Logistics in the chemical industry: particularities and challenges

Logística de la industria química

The chemical industry is one of the key sectors of the Spanish economy. In our country, more than 3,000 companies are involved in this activity, generating more than 75 billion euros in revenue and creating more than 700,000 direct and indirect jobs.

It is a sector that generates a large volume of logistics operations, which, due to the delicate nature of the products and raw materials with which it works, presents many peculiarities.


Types of chemical products to be transported

When we talk about chemical logistics, we refer to a wide variety of goods that are operated by numerous industries. Some of the main ones are the pharmaceutical and cosmetic industry, manufacturers of cleaning products, and agrochemicals.

At the logistics level, the key is to differentiate which goods are classified as dangerous. In this case, the regulations and controls that the entire logistics operation must undergo are much higher and can vary significantly between different countries.

The chemical products trading company must provide mandatory information regarding their dangerousness, toxicological and physicochemical characteristics, and conditions of use.


Peculiarities of chemical product transportation

In chemical product logistics, safe storage and transportation for people and the environment are even more important.

Throughout the entire production, distribution, and commercialization process, the chemical industry may require specialized storage services for dangerous goods and the transport of liquid and bulk raw materials. In all phases, we find special legal restrictions for chemical products. For example, in the case of bulk products, authorized means of transport are subject to strict legislation.

Currently, companies such as Noatum Logistics offer integrated solutions for the chemical industry that include specialized transport equipment and personalized logistics.


The peculiarity of pharmaceutical logistics

According to EU guidelines for good distribution practices for medicines, pharmaceutical product manufacturers must ensure end-to-end compliance with regulations throughout the entire supply chain. And the requirements are increasingly demanding in terms of allowed temperature margin, hygiene standards, and continuous monitoring.

In the case of the pharmaceutical industry, safety is even more important, due to the implications that any irregularity could have on the health of patients. To ensure safety, it is vital to carefully track each link in the chain.

For example, currently, many medicines are produced from thermosensitive biotech products and require logistics that scrupulously maintain the cold chain. The specified temperatures must be maintained and documented throughout transport and storage.

Other crucial aspects to consider are monitoring and traceability to prevent theft or counterfeiting. Each pharmaceutical packaging must have a unique identifier to allow its identification and authentication, as well as a device against medication tampering.

As in all sectors, the supply chain of the pharmaceutical industry has become globalized. Asian countries like India produce active ingredients that are transformed into medicines in Europe and marketed worldwide. Transport is carried out by air or sea, in refrigerated containers.

In the case of air transport, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has created the CEIV Pharma certification (Center of Excellence for Independent Validators in Pharmaceutical Logistics). This standard covers the entire chain and includes transhipment points (warehouses, parking areas, etc.).