David Adlam, Regional Manager of Ireland and South West UK, and Paul Morris, Strategic Account Manager for Life Sciences at Agility, discuss the company’s increased commitment to Ireland, their ongoing and successful efforts to expand their portfolio of life science clients as well as their focus on niche product areas. Additionally, they highlight Agility’s new facility in Dublin, which will further bolster their ability to service the life science sector.
As an introduction for our readers, could you provide some insights into your professional backgrounds?
“In terms of life science, we have begun to invest in niche products, for example nuclear medicine. Not many companies are involved in radioactive products, and that is an area we have grown over the past few years, and will continue to grow in the future.”
David Adlam (DA): I have been with Agility for nearly 17 years, managing the Southwest Region of the UK for the past 9 years and adding Ireland to my portfolio in 2014. Over the last 2 years, we have continued to invest in our Irish operation, returning it to profit and bringing it into line with the rest of the Area North West (UK & Ireland) Region. The first year of restructuring was focused on organizational changes and cost management, with the second year focused on customer growth – both of which have been successful. For 2017, we will be investing further in infrastructure – focusing specifically on our life science vertical within Ireland.
Paul Morris (PM): I work as the strategic account manager, with responsibility for commercial solutions in the UK and Ireland, specifically for life science, where I focus on strategy with regards to growing this segment for Agility. I have been working in the industry for 25 years, predominately in the life science arena.
What have been some of your key agenda priorities in recent years here in Ireland?
DA: In general, we are creating more structure and more support from the company as a global network. Previously, Ireland was very much a stand-alone affiliate, very self-reliant, and now Ireland is more part of the global Agility family. We are utilizing the resources that we have, both regionally and globally, and we have seen an increase in business as a result of that. Additionally, we are investing substantially both in capital as well as people.
In terms of life science, we have begun to invest in niche products, for example nuclear medicine. Not many companies are involved in radioactive products, and that is an area we have grown over the past few years, and will continue to grow in the future.
Your increasing commitment to the life science sector is made evident by recent investments in your facility in Dublin. Could you expand on how you hope this helps to grow Agility’s life science portfolio?
DA: As part of our market research, we have seen a requirement for fully licensed, fully temperature controlled Pharmaceutical warehousing providing long-term, short-term and cross-dock operations. Therefore, this is an area where we intend to invest during 2017. We already have a food-grade warehouse, and intend to upgrade this into a pharma-grade warehouse, with the aim to have it operational by Q3 of this year.
PM: We are expanding from our existing knowledge and experience running global pharma warehouses, for example in Dubai, where we operate warehouses for Pfizer, Sanofi, Baxter, among others. We are truly utilizing on our global expertise. This gives us a great opportunity to leverage our services, and because we are getting the warehouse licensed, it raises the bar in terms of standards, and people are going to be attracted to us in terms of quality.
DA: Overall, we are providing an end-to-end, fully compliant solution for our clients. We have Life Science facilities elsewhere in the globe which enables Agility to provide a true door-to-door service for Pharmaceuticals. As an example, Agility is very strong in India, where we are the only logistics company to operate a fully compliant pharmaceutical consolidation center in Nhava Sheva Port. This enables us to provide a Pharmaceutical LCL service to mainland Europe, UK & Ireland as well as further afield such as North America.
PM: Additionally, our new facility in Dublin is also very close to the airport. So, for example, if a company was bringing a product into Ireland, and they want to store products temporarily, we can hold it there, and vice-versa when products are on their way out. There is a lot of demand for these types of services, so we are filling a gap that currently exists in the market.
As pharmaceutical products become more and more complex, so do their shipping methods. How do you balance these changes with the need to still provide quality, affordable solutions to your clients?
DA: To a certain extent, this is customer driven. We see various levels of compliance levels from our customers. For Agility, the compliance aspect of things is incredibly important. We will not take short cuts, and if the customer is not compliant, then we are not compliant. In this industry, that is a red line for us. Cheaper service, especially in the pharma industry, is never going to be your most compliant service, and we live and breathe by the quality service we provide. There has been a lot of research into where the gaps in temperature control occur in the end-to-end pharma supply chain. Two of those key areas are the gaps occurring at airports. By closing these gaps, we can minimize the risk around quality management.
The larger life science companies tend to be a lot more mature in their compliance and regulations, however, a lot of clients, particularly within the generic market, are not as mature or experienced in this area. Prior to 2013, compliance for some of the smaller Pharma shippers was not a priority. Agility can offer that extra value-added service, where we provide compliance management and lane risk assessment services. Some Pharma companies already sub-contract out many of these services to us.
The other element is that air freight can be more of a risk than ocean freight. What we do is work with our customers to find the most cost effective and high quality solutions, and work to change their mindset in terms of ocean freight. We highlight the benefits of ocean freight as an alternative. If managed properly, you have an end-to-end solution in sealed containers. This is far more compliant, you have far less risk, and in general is a more cost effective solution for many of our life science clients.
PM: Additionally, we provide packaging services as well as what we call shipping lane risk assessments. For example, if someone needs something shipped to a more volatile area, as Agility is known for our work in emerging markets, many companies come to us by default to ship to these areas. We truly map out the whole supply chain for them in these instances, minimizing risk.
DA: Agility is part of an ocean freight working group organized by the International Quality and Productivity Center (IQPC). This group is made up of freight forwarders such as Agility, pharmaceutical companies and shipping lines. We have just published the latest report, which was presented at IQPC in January. This report provides an ocean freight guide for pharma companies including roles & responsibilities for all parties, booking & loading requirements as well as the liability challenges. Companies have been very receptive to shifting to ocean freight as they become more cost-driven. Ocean freight allows companies to reduces their costs while at the same time ensuring that they remain compliant. Generic companies have been especially receptive, as they tend to have a higher volume but lower margin compared to the originators.
What do you view as being some of the main ways in which Agility is able to differentiate itself from your competitors, specifically in the life sciences segment?
PM: Many of our competitors have standardized solutions. At Agility, we create solutions tailored to the client. This works particularly well in the pharma industry, as they are looking to minimize their risk, they want someone that will actually work through the process with them rather than just tell them how to do it. We do not force our customers to take up any particular part of our systems, allowing them much more freedom in terms of integration. Therefore, our implementation, compliance value adds and IT solutions through Agility “Connects” which encompasses Visibility, Collaboration and Integration are all essential parts in helping Agility to differentiate itself.
How important is the life science segment to Agility’s overall portfolio?
DA: The life science sector represents a significant portion of our business across the region with a broad portfolio of clients and commitment from Agility for ongoing investment. The life science sector has become part of our DNA in this region and is a key component of our strategy.
On a more personal note, during each of your tenures here at Agility, what would you say you are proudest of?
DA: Over my 17 years, I am especially proud of the team that we have built up, both in the UK and Ireland. Their knowledge, experience and commitment to our customers and Agility is a testament to our performance and high level of customer satisfaction.
PM: In a recent survey by Pharma IQ: Pharma supply, 60 percent of the respondents in the life science sector said that one of the biggest risks that they saw in the supply chain was actually the knowledge and experience of the forwarding staff. Even if you have the trains, planes and automobiles, you need quality, trained people. I believe that Agility has raised the bar by employing people that are very well qualified with excellent knowledge. We are investing heavily in training as well, working to build the knowledge base in the company, and raise the level of the employees, particularly in pharma and life science.
Where do you hope to lead Agility in the coming 3 to 5 years, what are your ambitions for the affiliate?
DA: I hope to continue the good work of the last 2 years by expanding our customer portfolio and increasing our footprint within Ireland. Providing an excellent service to our customers is an intrinsic part of that.
PM: I want to increase the amount of customers that we have, making our portfolio much deeper than it is now. We have already made tremendous strides in the last 3 years, and I look forward to expanding on that. We are also looking to move into new markets. We already are active in areas such as nuclear medicine, product launches and clinical trials and want to grow this area of the business.These are complicated processes, and often involve a certain amount of warehousing, so expanding this area of our business is important, and will also support our investments in our facility in Dublin.
Do you have any final message for our readers in Ireland and around the world?
DA: Agility is committed to the life science industry, and we see Ireland as having great potential in this area. We therefore will continue to invest in Life Science, with a special emphasis in the near future on Ireland, North & South America as well as the Emerging markets such as India and Africa.
Agility brings efficiency to supply chains in some of the globe’s most challenging environments, offering unmatched personal service, a global footprint and customized capabilities in developed and developing economies alike. Agility is one of the world’s leading providers of integrated logistics. It is a publicly traded company with more than $4 billion in revenue and more than 20,000 employees in over 500 offices across 100 countries. Agility’s core commercial business, Global Integrated Logistics (GIL), provides supply chain solutions to meet traditional and complex customer needs. GIL offers air, ocean and road freight forwarding, warehousing, distribution, and specialized services in project logistics, fairs and events, and chemicals. Agility’s Infrastructure group of companies manages industrial real estate and offers logistics-related services, including e-government customs optimization and consulting, waste management and recycling, aviation and ground-handling services, support to governments and ministries of defense, remote infrastructure and life support.