Aldo López
The Mexican Association of Logistic Operations (AOLM)

Association Targets High 3PL Standards

Wed, 09/05/2018 - 09:24

Due to its nature, the pharmaceutical industry faces intense scrutiny, whether during the manufacturing phase or the sale of the produced drugs. While transporting medications, carriers must guarantee compliance with best practices to enter and remain in the market, says Aldo López, President of the Mexican Association of Logistic Operators (AOLM). “The pharmaceutical sector is among the industry’s most regulated. For this reason, logistics operators have invested significantly to ensure the integrity and safety of these products by generating the right conditions for storage and transportation. Operators have done this by creating dedicated warehouses and providing specific training to all their employees.”

AOLM, which turned 3 years old in 2017, has 13 members including both national and international companies. It is extremely selective with new members, says López, as it focuses exclusively on logistics operators. The association “represents between 60,000 and 80,000 workers and moves approximately 60 percent of all products in every supermarket.”

Among its many objectives, AOLM promotes adherence to best practices for the transport of medications, a strictly regulated area. “Logistics regulations have greatly improved to safeguard the integrity of medications and their maintenance under cold-chain conditions. Safety standards are extremely high and products are kept in controlled temperature conditions by any means necessary during transport,” says López. “The practice of transporting medications in Mexico has changed greatly during the last 25 years. Before, drugs were treated like any other type of cargo,” he says. “They could be transported alongside livestock.”

Today, specific conditions for the transport of medications have been imposed on the sector. Yet, while the segment has become stricter, third-party logistics (3PL) operators still face many challenges that AOLM is working to address. It works alongside the Mexican government to improve regulations, road infrastructure and safety. The latter is a major concern for all 3PL companies but mainly for those in the healthcare sector due to the potential danger these products represent. AOLM is “working closely with a branch of the local police, C5, which has allowed us to prevent up to 50 percent of cases of theft and recover about 25 percent of stolen merchandize.”

AOLM also represents its members’ interests in Mexico to international players as it belongs to the Latin American Logistics Association (ALALOG). “Latin American countries share many cultural characteristics, which greatly simplifies logistics operations across countries. The association compiles and shares information on costs for operators and aims to homologate 3PL services, which has not yet been regulated in many countries in the region. Uruguay and Argentina are far ahead in terms of regulations and we expect Mexico to follow these practices.”

To further improve best practices in the 3PL sector, the organization has created three initiatives. The first is a partnership with the Ministry of Labor to generate official regulations for the maximum load workers are allowed to carry. “We have conducted several studies alongside the Metropolitan Autonomous University (UAM), UNAM and other specialized institutes to determine the maximum loads individuals may carry without hurting themselves. This will set the bar for new regulations in this area.” The second is inclusion, as AOLM’s members are creating programs to include workers with disabilities and to ensure facilities accommodate their needs. Finally, the third initiative is to generate academic curricula in conjunction with universities to train 3PL professionals in Mexico, a study program that did not exist before. “We generated the first program with Puebla Metropolitan University and our goal is to spread this program to all metropolitan universities in Mexico.”

The association’s main goal, however, is always to represent 3PL operators in Mexico. Says López: “Even though the sector has many players, it did not have a unified voice. The association can now represent this sector to governmental players, including COFEPRIS, the Ministry of Health and all governmental offices.”