Armored trucks bearing the blue BRINKS logo are a common sight in South Florida, transporting cash, jewelry, precious metals and other valuables for banks, jewelers, businesses and government offices.
But these vehicles also are used here and overseas to transport high-value pharmaceuticals and medical equipment, tissue samples, vaccines, biological research products and other biologics that require strict temperature control and must be delivered on time to avoid spoilage.
This facet of The Brink’s Co., a global leader in security services, is handled by Brink’s Life Sciences Division, a Medley-based unit of Brink’s Global Services, the division responsible for the parent company’s international operations.
“Our Life Sciences office was created here in January 2014,” said Leandro Moreira, the Medley-based director of Life Sciences for Brink’s Global Services division. “For a number of years, Brink’s has received requests and provided services for life sciences companies. We are a risk-management company, and customers come to us for these specialized services because we have established an international reputation for securely handling high-value merchandise.
“We offer solutions that provide increased transparency and traceability for the pharmaceutical supply chain, helping to enforce complex handling and temperature management requirements, while reducing the risk of theft of pharmaceuticals, a troubling issue in many regions,” Moreira said.
Seeing a major business opportunity for its existing international logistics and security network, Brink’s set up its Life Sciences Division and began rolling out its specialized services in North America and throughout the world. “Our focus on securing the supply chain for life sciences products is an area where we feel we have a competitive advantage,” Moreira said. “We’ve combined our know-how in security with specialized pharma handling. As a result, we’ve created service components that offer unique ways to reduce key vulnerabilities [theft, damage, spoilage] within the pharmaceutical supply chain while helping to make the distribution process more efficient, secure and reliable.”
The parent company, based in Richmond, Virginia, has more than 64,000 employees worldwide and a fleet of 12,000 vehicles. It provides a range of security and financial services in 122 countries. Brink’s Regional Services, another division providing security services, also has its Latin America headquarters in Miami at a separate site.
Working with a broad range of clients in pharmaceuticals, medicine, research and related sectors, as well as with freight forwarders, airlines and other logistics firms, Brink’s Life Sciences designs and implements secure, end-to-end supply chain processes for worldwide shipments of products from all these sectors.
Brink’s controls delicate shipments every step of the journey, from manufacturer to distributor or to another destination, using climate-controlled trucks. “We stay with the shipment until it is loaded on the plane and until the plane takes off,” Moreira said. “Then we’re at the other end when it arrives.”
Medley is the division’s global operations center. “From here, we coordinate and support all Life Sciences activities,” Moreira said, including business development, training, service quality, compliance and sales.
The division also has operations and monitoring centers in other parts of the world to coordinate and oversee international shipments. Brink’s has access to more than 500 airports globally to handle pickups and deliveries for Life Sciences.
Miami was a logical choice for the Life Sciences headquarters since Miami International Airport (MIA) is already a major pharma hub. The total value of pharma products transported through MIA increased by 79 percent between 2010 and 2014, when it reached more than $3.3 billion.
Last year, the Geneva-based International Air Transport Association (IATA), which represents about 260 airlines, designated MIA as the first pharma freight hub in the United States.
“Miami has been strengthening its position as a customs district for the export of pharma, having surpassed Philadelphia and Buffalo,” Moreira said. “It is now one of the top four U.S. customs districts for pharma products.”
This trend should continue, he said, as pharmaceutical use increases in Latin America because of increased life expectancy, wider access to healthcare and other factors.
One example of how Brink’s Life Sciences was able to use its expertise was in Sao Paulo, Brazil. To avoid theft, a pharma company used 17 trucks (two drivers in each one) and 17 security vehicles (two guards in each) to move high-value products to a final destination. “They came to us, and we were able to safely deliver the same shipments with five of our trucks and no security vehicles,” Moreira said. The customer enjoyed significant savings from lower operating costs and a big reduction in insurance premiums, thanks to Brink’s reputation and capability, he said.
Moreira, who took over the Life Sciences job at the beginning of 2014, previously worked in international executive sales and marketing positions at American Airlines for 19 years. Born in Brazil, he studied law at the Universidade do Estado do Rio de Janeiro. He later studied leadership, organizational communications and public policy at the University of Miami and completed the executive leadership program at Cornell University
Moreira, who speaks five languages, is also chairman of the Health Technologies Distribution Alliance, a trade organization.
One time, when Moreria was visiting his mother in Rio de Janeiro before joining Brink’s, he noticed the many containers of medications she had lined up at her home. “ I realized how important these medicines were for her health, and for helping many other people.” He asked himself how he could make the process of getting these medications to her — and to millions of others — more efficient. In his current job, Moreira focuses on this challenge every day.
“At Brink’s Life Sciences, what we do is much more than just moving a piece of merchandise.”
The writer can be reached at email@example.com.
The Brink’s Company
Business: Brink’s (whose logo is BRINKS) is an international leader in providing security services for banks, financial institutions, mines, retailers, the diamond and jewelry sectors, the pharmaceutical industry and other government and commercial clients. Brink’s has about 12,000 vehicles and customers in more than 120 countries. Brink’s Global Services handles the company’s international operations and its Brink’s Life Sciences division, based in Miami, designs and manages secure, end-to-end processes for worldwide transportation of high-value pharmaceuticals, specialized medical device and sensitive shipments like vaccines, tissue samples and other biologicals that require strict temperature control. Brink’s Regional Services, another division providing security services, also has its Latin America headquarters in Miami.
Founded: in Chicago in 1859 by Perry Brink.
Corporate headquarters: Richmond, Virginia.
Headquarters for Brink’s Life Sciences Division: 9675 NW 117th Ave., Medley.
Life Sciences management: Leandro Moreira, director of Life Sciences, Brink’s Global Services.
Employees: Brink’s has more than 64,000 worldwide. For security reasons, it does not comment on staff at specific locations.
Revenue: Nearly $3.1 billion in 2015.
Ownership: Publicly traded (NYSE: BCO).