June 26, 2017 / 9:43 AM / a month ago

Maersk Line plans pharma transport market push with new digital tool

2 Min Read

COPENHAGEN (Reuters) - Maersk Line, the world's largest container shipping firm, is looking to expand in the air freight-dominated pharmaceuticals transport market, as it has completed fitting its refrigerated containers with a digital tool that helps monitor temperature.

The company, a part of A.P. Moller-Maersk (MAERSKb.CO), said it had finished installing the Remote Container Management (RCM) tool on all of its 270,000 refrigerated containers, also known as reefers, and will now offer it to customers.

The tool will help measure location, temperature, humidity and power status in real time.

With the tool, Maersk is hoping to grow volumes within more traditional chilled perishable cargo like bananas, fish and meat, but also to expand into transport of high-valued pharmaceutical products where it now has a small presence.

Pharmaceuticals are currently transported mainly via air and less than 20 percent is being shipped, Maersk's head of Reefer, Anne Sophie Zerlang told Reuters on Monday, adding that the market had a potential to reach 100,000 containers a year.

"We're definitely looking to make the container market bigger by RCM," Zerlang said. "We are also hoping to penetrate newer markets like the pharma industry ... It has a very big potential but has extremely specific requirements because of the very high value of the cargo."

Maersk expects to transport one million reefers this year.

The RCM tool is the latest in the more than 100-year old conglomerate A.P. Moller-Maersk's push into new technologies.

The container shipping industry has lagged some other sectors in bringing more of its processes online, and there is still a huge amount of paperwork slowing down the handling and tracking of containers.

Reporting by Stine Jacobsen; Editing by Himani Sarkar

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