Responsible Persons: ensuring quality in IAG Cargo’s cold chain solution

At a time when vaccines are making daily headlines, freight forwarders are seeking cold chain solutions that will meet the exacting standards of their pharmaceutical customers. As part of its arsenal, IAG Cargo employs a team of Responsible Persons, GDP-certified staff that are accountable for every Constant Climate shipment arriving in a pure, potent and stable condition, ensuring its integrity at each step of the journey. We sit down with IAG Cargo’s Responsible Persons Joanne Williams and Jeaguk Na to learn more about what the role entails and how they guarantee quality is at the core of IAG Cargo’s cold chain.

What does it mean to be a Responsible Person for IAG Cargo’s Constant Climate product?

We are responsible for IAG Cargo’s quality management system, which demonstrates that our cold chain solution meets, and in our case, exceeds, the requirements of industry regulations, as well as our own business standards and those of our partner airlines. This system includes the network of Constant Climate stations that we fly to, which spans 107 destinations worldwide, and maintaining this quality assurance requires regular audits, training and communication with our customers.

Is it a requirement for every airline to retain a Responsible Person for cold chain products?

It isn’t, but IAG Cargo saw this as a natural requirement so that our customers feel confident in our handling capabilities. The desire to offer superior quality assurance motivated the application for our WDA license at Heathrow, and we were the first airline to gain a nationally accredited certification in Good Distribution Practices, licensed by the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). Having Responsible Persons (RPs) is necessary for us to demonstrate to our customers how seriously we take the business of handling their delicate commodities.

The fact that we have retained RPs since the launch of Constant Climate shows that we place a huge focus on our standards and it should give shippers a level of confidence, because we uphold the same fundamental standards that they work to as suppliers of medicinal properties.

What does your day-to-day look like?

Every day is different and comes with different challenges. We’re the go-to for the whole network, commercial, as well as operational teams, so if there is anything the teams are unsure of, they will ask us. We are also responsible for the continuous improvement part of the product.

How is IAG Cargo assessed for its quality standards?

Our processes are detailed in our cargo handling manual and teams are trained to those processes by our own internal teams. We are assessed by Good Distribution Practice guidelines and IATA temperature-controlled regulations, which our Constant Climate product has been formed around. Part of those guidelines require ongoing training, and that our training materials are reviewed and are fit for purpose. We carry out risk assessments at each station, plus annual self-audits so that they can demonstrate compliance with the requirements.

Part of mine and Jea’s day-to-day is to maintain our WDA license at Heathrow through regular audits, which, among its requirements, checks that our cleaning records are maintained, that the temperatures are correct within the chambers, and that we have pest control management. We also have local operating procedures for managing our quality management system (QMS) on an annual basis, which involves our pest control supplier, our cleaning team and there’s an operation aspect too.

Vaccines and pharmaceuticals are in the news now more than ever, why should customers choose IAG Cargo’s Constant Climate at this crucial time?

Our Constant Climate network is expansive, in regions ranging from Latin America to Asia Pacific and we ensure all standards are maintained at the highest level and targets are met at each station for our customers’ cargo. Quality is at the heart of what we do, that’s always been at the centre of our product and systems. We ensure deliveries of a pure, potent and stable product that is able to do its job, either saving or prolonging a life.

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