DB Schenker moves vaccine equipment from Germany to US

DB Schenker
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DB Schenker transports equipment for a vaccine filling line on behalf of US-based healthcare company Nexus Pharmaceuticals.

With a total volume of 82 tonnes, it was necessary to charter an Antonov An-124 aircraft for the flight from Frankfurt-Hahn (HHN) in Germany to Chicago-Rockford (RFD) in the US.

The transported material comprised of a vaccine filling machine with isolator from the German specialised engineering companies Bausch + Stroebel and Franz Ziel. Once the production line is operational, it has the capability to produce up to 30 million doses of vaccines per month. The design and fabrication of the machine had already begun years before the pandemic.

“With our expertise in intercontinental transports, we want to support the global fight against the pandemic by building up vaccine production capacities where possible,” says Thorsten Meincke, member of the Management Board for Air and Ocean Freight at DB Schenker. ”

“More than ever, logistics truly matters. We are proud to be able to realise short-term air freight solutions for our customers even in times of limited market capacities.”

DB Schenker AN124
Loading in Frankfurt-Hahn (HHN). The largest box was 8.5 meters in length.

John Cook, vice president of Manufacturing Operations of Nexus Pharmaceuticals adds: “Nexus Pharmaceuticals is keenly aware of the need for an increase in global vaccine production capabilities and as such has aggressively taken steps to address the situation.

“The filling line and associated isolator represent critical pieces and their arrival is the culmination of Nexus’ commitment to addressing medical needs during the pandemic. Nexus’ investment with DB Schenker’s tremendous support was instrumental in the fast-tracking of the commissioning of our state-of-the-art sterile pharmaceutical manufacturing facility.”

Bausch + Stroebel is a German specialist in machines for pharmaceutical packaging. Ahead of the break-out of the pandemic, the company already started to develop and build the now transported production line for the filling of sterile pharmaceutical products into vials.

Franz Ziel created a tailor-made isolator to realize a truly aseptic environment for the processing of sterile pharmaceutical products.

From the two companies’ locations in Ilshofen and Billerbeck, DB Schenker transported the equipment to Frankfurt-Hahn Airport from where an Antonov An-124 charter flight carried 67 tonnes to Chicago-Rockford. The cargo was split into 20 boxes: The largest container possessed a length of 8.5 metres and 8.3 tonnes in chargeable weight.

As even the Antonov’s capacities were not sufficient, another 15 tonnes were transported on DB Schenker’s weekly scheduled charter flight from Munich to Rockford. After the arrival of both flights in the US, DB Schenker forwarded the entire cargo to Pleasant Prairie in Wisconsin where Nexus Pharmaceuticals will use the vaccine filling line with its surrounding isolator in a state-of-the-art sterile pharmaceutical manufacturing facility.

Jennifer Gabriel DB Schenker
Jennifer Gabriel from DB Schenker in Germany supervised the special charter flight during rainy weather.

Depending on the type of vaccine, the machine is capable of producing up to 30 million doses monthly which could help to alleviate production bottlenecks to overcome the pandemic, DB Schenker says. The vaccines filled by the machine could be distributed both in the US and internationally.

Subsequently, the line will be used for filling Nexus Pharmaceuticals’ extensive portfolio of specialty and generic injectable products into vials.

An Antonov An-124 has a length of almost 70 metres and with a total shipment volume of 400 cubic meters, DB Schenker’s decision to utilise the four-engined aircraft was based on the size of the cargo rather than its weight.

Jennifer Gabriel, head of Air Freight Branch Ilsfeld at DB Schenker in Germany, supervised the special charter flight’s loading procedure on 10 April.

“The complexity of this project was to coordinate several stakeholders and transport solutions involved. It feels great to be part of such a well-orchestrated example of life-saving logistics,” Gabriel says.

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