Cool dollies, express lanes and pre-alerts to ensure seamless movement at airports
A command and control centre set up at the Centre’s aviation cargo wing, AAICLAS, will monitor the movement of COVID-19 vaccines across a network of 41 airports, with Pune — where vaccine manufacturer Serum Institute of India is located — as the hub.
The 41 airports or cities where transportation efforts will be focused include Karnal, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata, each of which has a Government Medical Stores Depot (GMSD) of the Central government’s Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. Once vaccines dispatched by the manufacturers arrive at these four big depots, they will be further distributed across 37 State depots.
Thereafter, they will be sent to district depots and finally to primary health care centres, Secretary of Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Rajesh Bhushan, said at a press event on Tuesday.
Each of these centres have a temperature tracker which will upload temperature data on a central server for real time monitoring.
The AAICLAS — the Airports Authority of India Cargo Logistics and Allied Services Company Limited — will be the nodal body for co-ordinating air transportation of the vaccines among various stakeholders of the aviation sector. It is in the process of finalising a standard operating protocol “to ensure co-ordination among different supply chain stakeholders for maximising shipping capabilities,” CEO Keku Bomi Gazder told The Hindu.
The SOPs focus on ensuring temperature sensitivity and seamless movement of vaccines within the airport. They will ensure that a consignment doesn’t take more than 30 minutes from the moment it enters a cargo terminal till it is loaded onto an aircraft and not more than six minutes after being offloaded from an aircraft at the destination airport and shifted to an insulated van outside the airport.
Various airlines, and officials of the AAICLAS, Bureau of Civil Aviation Security, Indian Air Force as well as Serum Institute of India will be meeting at Pune airport on Wednesday to discuss manpower and infrastructure requirement following which corrective measures will be taken, Airport Director, Kuldeep Singh Rishi said. The airport in Pune belongs to the IAF.
Airports such as the Indira Gandhi International Airport have state-of-the-art temperature controlled zones with separate cool chambers ranging from +250C to -200C. Cool dollies or mobile temperature-controlled facilities help in movement of temperature sensitive cargo between terminals and aircraft to ensure an unbroken cold chain. Terminals also have charging points to handle temperature-controlled containers.
“The role of the vaccine supply chain would be to ensure effective vaccine storage, handling, severe temperature control in the cold chain; and maintenance of adequate logistics management information systems. The airports and carriers for the vaccine have to be equipped to handle large capacity of vaccine and store them for last mile delivery,” Ketan Kulkarni, CMO & Head – Business Development, Blue Dart, told The Hindu in an email interview.
Due to the sensitivity of the shipments, technology will also play a vital role in ensuring vaccines remain efficacious throughout the supply chain.
“Overall visibility on relevant data for everyone involved must be improved so as to identify potential bottlenecks and deterrents,” added Mr Kulkarni.
”Customers, both airlines and the freight forwarders are being sensitised to send us their pre-alerts and planning, to enable us to expedite movements accordingly. To ensure speed, we have created a separate lane for movements of Covid Vaccine at Export and Import warehouse and dedicated delivery and acceptance gates for immediate handling,” says Celebi Aviation’s India CEO, Murali Ramachandran.
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