Pharma distributor Zuellig Pharma is making expansion plans for its cold storage warehouse capacity in key regional markets over the next 12 months as the company prepares for the anticipated storage and distribution demands of COVID-19 vaccines.
The company is constructing a US$6 million 6,300-square-metre warehouse in Phnom Penh, which it says will be Cambodia’s largest pharma warehouse. The warehouse will increase its cold storage capacity by four times and will be fully operational by the third quarter of 2021.
In Taiwan, Zuellig Pharma is expanding its warehouse and distribution facilities and has plans to build a US$66 million distribution centre in Taiwan in 2024.
In the Philippines, the company already secured capacity to store products at -20°C and will add 10 medical grade freezers to augment its existing capacity in -80°C storage, enough to store Pfizer’s vaccines.
It will also add five new cold chambers in the Philippines including three in Manila, and one each in Cebu and Davao respectively from January 2021. On the outskirts of Manila in Santa Rosa, the company opened a new 25,000-square-metre national distribution centre (NDC) in September this year, equipped with automation and energy efficient functionalities. The LEED certified warehouse has 10,000 square metres of solar panels, LED intelligent lighting and a water-chilled cooling system.
In Indonesia, through its subsidiary APL, the company opened an NDC in West Java. Spanning 39,930 square metres, it claims to have the largest cold room capacity for pharma products in the country. The warehouse has three different temperature-controlled environments and advanced monitoring systems to protect its operations and the integrity of products.
In Thailand, Zuellig has 4,070 square metres of cold chain capacity, whilst the 10,000-square-metre warehouse in Korea increased its capacity by 26 percent this year, with plans to add 1,000 pallets in 2021.
“COVID-19 has severely tested our operations over these past few months, but it has also presented opportunities for transformational change at Zuellig Pharma. We are focusing on innovation to lead the transformation of the healthcare system. At the same time, we are working closely with governments, non-government organisations and manufacturers across the region to understand their needs and plan for the necessary logistical infrastructure in preparation for the COVID-19 vaccine,” said John Graham, CEO Zuellig Pharma.
Zuellig Pharma’s cold chain capabilities also include eZCooler, an environmentally friendly innovation that extends the storage time of temperature-sensitive products in transit from two days with a traditional system, to five days.
“eZCooler’s thermal isolation system can be customised to provide the low temperatures needed to transport and store COVID-19 vaccines, which could require temperatures as low as -70°C,” explained Tom Vanmolkot, EVP Distribution and client services at Zuellig Pharma.
“This is complemented by eZTracker, our in-house blockchain solution, which enables full traceability during the distribution of the vaccine to rural areas throughout Asia without compromising integrity,” he added.
Zuellig Pharma currently has over 80 distribution centres in 13 markets across Asia. All warehouse facilities, either owned or leased and operated by the company, comply with licensing, permits and leading health, safety, security, and environment certification standards required by local regulators as well as by international organisations, the press release read.