From Puppies to Pharmaceutical: The CEIV Certification Programme

by Michael Cheng

We have covered how Hong Kong received its first batch of Covid-19 vaccines, Cathay Pacific successfully delivered a safe and efficient operation. Consider the transportation of the Covid-19 vaccines, one of the largest global humanitarian operations.

Challenges of Air Freight

Air Freight has been one of the major transportation methods and has successfully contributed to the development of logistics. However, whilst air freight is successful, shippers still have several concerns. Compared to Air cargo, Sea transportation provides a relatively stable environment, with mature standardisation, compliance, and accountability practices.  Statistics shows that the majority of temperature excursions were found during the process with airline ground handlers. Therefore ensuring reliability and efficiency in delivering high-value, time-sensitive, temperature-controlled cargo became a huge task for  Air carriers and ground services. Many of whom have faced challenges with equipment, training resources and inadequate facilities.

Cargo being loaded onto plane

Cargo usually exposed  for 2-3 hours during ground time, could potentially cause temperature deviation and could denature the product being transported.

CEIV Certification Programme.

As a standard setter, IATA has introduced IATA Centre of Excellence for Independent Validators (CEIV) programme for logistics service providers including airlines, ground handling agent and cargo warehouse operators. The programme is designed to help air freight logistic companies to achieve handle special products, such as perishable cargo, live animal and pharmaceutical products. The Centre of Excellence for Independent Validators (CEIV) programme currently consists of three specific certifications: CEIV Pharma, CEIV Live Animals and CEIV Fresh.

The CEIV certification ensures that all facilities, equipment, operations and staff in the certified organisations comply with the expected standards, regulations and guidelines. Starting from 2014, IATA implemented the new standard, using the certification programme establishes solid guidelines to improve the level of competency, infrastructure and quality management in the handling and transportation of special cargo.

IATA - CEIV FreshIATA - CEIV PharmaIATA - CEIV Live Animals

The major 3 types of CEIV Certifications: Fresh, Pharma, and Animal.  Operators including cargo terminal operator, handling agent, airlines will follow the process for getting its CEIV certification for Fresh, Live animal, or  Pharma according to the company business scope. For operations who would like to get certified with the programme, a comprehensive training will be required for the relevant staff engaged in quality and risk management systems in storage,  transportation, handling and management of the shipments.

After requesting a formal audit, an IATA certified auditor would conduct an on site/ remote assessment of the handling procedure, documentations against the CEIV Audit Checklist to ensure compliance with current standards and requirements, this would include a detailed review of the management system, handling procedures, quality management system, outsource management, staff training, equipment and even  regulatory framework in compliance with World Health Organization (WHO) and Good Distribution Practices (GDP).

The validation will then be conducted to verify the findings and identify any gaps found during the assessment,  the relative corrective actions will need to have been implemented by the auditee. to ensure that the organization meets the program’s objectives. The operator will receive an official certification and be registered as a Centre of Excellence (CEIV Fresh, Pharma, or Live Animal).  The certificates is valid for 24-36 months and re-validation is required for ensure the company is still complying with the updated requirements after 24-36 months.

Animals in the hold

CEIV Certification addresses the industry’s expectation for safety, security, compliance and efficiency in the transportation of special products. It seeks to minimise product loss attributed to handling and environmental factors during transport. By creating these standards for transport, the CEIV programme has significantly increased staff competency and hopes to precipitate a future where customers can more easily track special products to monitor if they’re being held in the right conditions.

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