After two years of construction work, a new logistics building for the handling of goods was officially opened in the logistics area at Brussels Airport. This building which provides large refrigerated storage spaces and offers direct airside access, henceforth accommodates three first-class logistics companies: Kuehne+Nagel, Worldwide Flight Services and Expeditors.
Brussels Airport boasts an essential logistics platform for the import and export to and from our country. Over one hundred logistics companies have set up office here, making it the second most important logistics hub in Belgium, after the Port of Antwerp, for international trade and air transport in Europe. Thanks to its particularly central location amid all the major industrial centres, the logistics area of Brussels Airport is a crucial powerhouse for the economic growth of the country and its regions, with almost 650,000 tonnes transported in 2020. Brucargo has specialised in the shipment of perishables, pharmaceuticals and e-commerce; markets that have recorded strong growth in recent years, especially during the COVID-19 crisis.
For several years now, Brussels Airport has been making considerable investments to further strengthen the position of its logistics hub Brucargo. Brussels Airport has invested a total of 100 million euros in the construction of ultra-modern logistics buildings including the Brinks building for the storage of valuable goods and the Animal Care & Inspection Center for the temporary accommodation and transport of various animal species, as well as in the renovation of several existing buildings such as the Swissport Cargo building. And of course, in the construction of a brand-new building at Brucargo West.
Sustainability and refrigerated storage space
At the west side of Brucargo, Brussels Airport has, under its own management, invested in a building that provides some 50,000m² of warehousing space to meet the needs of 3 companies, Kuehne+Nagel, Worldwide Flight Services (WFS) and Expeditors, which are active in the transportation, packaging and warehousing of freight. Brucargo West not only provides additional first-line facilities for handling activities (WFS), increasing maximum capacity, but also anchors the air freight activities of two global logistics service providers (Expeditors and Kuehne+Nagel) who once again confirm their confidence in the future development of Brucargo.
Kuehne+Nagel is also expanding its activities at Brussels Airport also for the handling of perishables (temperature-controlled storage and transportation of flowers, vegetables and fruit). The new infrastructure is especially suitable for the handling of pharmaceuticals, and in particular of vaccines, which is one of the niche markets Brussels Airport has specialised in and for which – with over 30,000m² of refrigerated storage space – it is recognised as one of the leading airports in the world. Kuehne+Nagel’s hub in Brucargo hereby strategically complements the company’s global network of 90+ KN PharmaChain GxP certified air logistics stations.
Expeditors is heavily expanding its healthcare logistics in Europe and has chosen for Brussels Airport to become its pharmaceutical gateway to connect its European network with the rest of the world. The new Expeditors healthcare facility in combination with fully monitored end-to-end temperature-controlled logistics is a differentiator in the market for the shipment of highly sensitive vaccines and pharmaceuticals. This new Expeditors facility is already playing a key role in the shipment of COVID-19 vaccines and related medical supplies.
‘Thanks to Brucargo West, we now have additional logistics facilities for the transport in optimal conditions of pharmaceuticals in general and COVID-19 vaccines in particular’, explains Arnaud Feist, CEO of Brussels Airport. ‘We are thus expanding our first-line logistics infrastructure and temperature-controlled storage facilities, now having the largest refrigerated storage capacity of any airport in Europe. Brussels Airport is a proactive investor who aims to make the logistics chain even more efficient and get it ready to accommodate future growth, making the airport an essential economic hub in Belgium, in terms of employment and added value for our country’s economy.’
Sustainability was a key concern throughout the construction of this logistics project, which started in May 2019. Part of the roof surface is laid out as a green roof while the entire surface is designed to be fitted out with solar panels in the future. Rain gardens were built to improve rainwater infiltration and rainwater pits were constructed for the reuse of rainwater, driving down the buildings’ use of mains water. The buildings were also equipped with LED lighting and heat pumps. In addition, to improve mobility within the airport grounds and facilitate more sustainable modes of transport for staff, charging stations for electric vehicles were installed in the area. Two additional bus stops and a new bicycle path complete the mobility offer.
For 130 years, Kuehne+Nagel has been shaping the world of logistics with a strong determination to connect people and goods through innovative and sustainable logistics solutions. Active in Belgium since 1956 with now over 2.500 employees, and at Brussels Airport since 1979 where the company has 150 employees, Kuehne+Nagel occupies since last year more than 15,000 m² at Brucargo West. This includes 6,500 m² of refrigerated storage space, thus strengthening its position in the logistics of pharmaceuticals, perishables and high-value products.
‘The direct access airside, the refrigerated space for storing temperature-sensitive goods, as well as the concern for the environment in every aspect of the construction, with e.g. the solar panels and the LED lighting, are the strengths of this new site at Brussels Airport’, explains Geert Torfs, Director Air Logistics at Kuehne+Nagel BeLux. ‘We also take care of the very specific packaging of products that need to be kept at steady temperatures. The area for perishables will also be further extended with an additional work area, i.e. 1,200 m² of refrigerated space for perishables, a freezing area and a FASFC inspection area.’
American logistics company Expeditors is the second partner to have occupied its new premises. Expeditors creates highly optimised and customised supply chain solutions for its clients through a global network of over 60 countries in six continents. The Belgian division was founded in 1990 and currently employs over 150 members of staff in its two branches. Expeditors offers a wide range of expertise in specific vertical markets including pharmaceuticals, high tech, retail, automotive and aviation industries.
At Brucargo, Expeditors occupies a surface area of 15,000m² (13,000 m² of warehouses and 2,000 m² of office space). Currently, 80 people work there but their number is expected to grow in the medium term. ‘This new realisation ensures a solid growth capacity for the coming years and will meet the high demands of our customers who want our services to be carried out in a correct and secure manner. Brussels Airport occupies a central position in Western Europe and is easily accessible by all means of transport, a major asset’, explains Peter Van Domburg, District Manager Belgium & Luxembourg. Since November, Expeditors is doing its bit in shipping the COVID-19 vaccines around the globe.
Worldwide Flight Services
Active at Brussels Airport since 1992 providing cargo handling services, WFS has specialised over the years in cargo transport and has regularly expanded its infrastructure on the airport site. Currently, WFS employs about 190 persons in Belgium (Bierset and Brussels Airport), and over 25,000 people on 200 sites around the globe, making it the largest cargo handler in the world.
On 18 January this year, WFS moved into its new premises in Brucargo West. A total of 25,000 m2 of warehouse space and more than 3,000 m2 of office space. ‘This new site contributes to strengthening our presence at Brussels Airport and supports our ambition to grow the network capacity and provide a uniform solution for all network customers throughout Europe. 150 employees are henceforth working on the site for the handling of pharmaceuticals and perishables which benefits from real-time data, speed and digitisation’ explains Koen Gouweloose, General Manager WFS Belgium. ‘Our goal is to achieve carbon neutrality as soon as possible. The building is designed as a low emission building, which also plays an important role in our choice of suppliers. All the vehicles inside are electric vehicles and our new premises also help us to promote a ‘bike to work’ programme.’