Cold Chain Packaging Solutions for Healthcare and Life Sciences
Cold chain packaging solutions have become increasingly important in recent years as the demand for temperature-sensitive products continues to grow. While cold chain packaging is essential for any industry looking to transport perishable goods, it’s especially crucial for the healthcare and life sciences industries. Many products, such as vaccines, medications, and biological samples, require temperature control during transportation and storage to maintain their safety and efficacy. This is where cold chain packaging comes in – it is designed to maintain a specific temperature range, ensuring that the contents are protected from temperature fluctuations that could compromise their quality.
The numbers are staggering: on average, it is estimated by logistics experts that the biopharma industry makes an average loss of $35 billion yearly because of spoilages due to temperature deviations. Therefore, ensuring your business finds the best expertise to provide the proper storage and transport of goods in temperature-controlled logistics is crucial. Let’s learn more about cold chain packaging and the solutions available for healthcare and life sciences.
What is the role of packaging in cold chain transportation?
Cold chain packaging describes packing and shipping goods at an appropriate, consistent temperature. The goal is to ensure that goods are kept at the same temperature from manufacturing to the final destination.
Manufacturers design cold chain packaging solutions to keep the internal products cool via insulation and other materials. The coolness ensures that transported assets remain within set conditions.
Types of cold chain packaging solutions available
Cold chain packaging is critical to ensuring the safe transport and storage of healthcare and pharmaceutical products that require temperature control. Some solutions available for cold chain packaging in healthcare and pharmaceutical sciences include:
Insulated packaging: Insulated packaging is designed to maintain a stable temperature inside the package, protecting the contents from temperature fluctuations outside. This packaging includes expanded polystyrene (EPS), polyurethane foam, or vacuum-insulated panels (VIPs).
Phase change materials (PCMs): PCMs are materials that absorb or release heat to maintain a consistent temperature. Businesses can use them in packaging to maintain the temperature of the contents during transportation or storage. For example, PCM products like the Thermal Liner Embatuff can protect cargo during transport by keeping a temperature difference of 10-20ºC between the container and the interior.
Active temperature-controlled packaging: Active temperature-controlled packaging uses a power source to regulate the temperature inside the package actively and can be monitored using temperature packaging indicators. This packaging typically uses refrigeration or heating elements to maintain the desired temperature.
Temperature monitoring and tracking systems: Temperature monitoring and tracking systems can monitor the temperature of the contents during transportation or storage. These data loggers can alert users to temperature deviations that could compromise the integrity of the product.
Dry ice: Dry ice maintains the temperature of frozen products during transportation. Dry ice vaporises into carbon dioxide gas, which can help to maintain a low temperature.
Refrigerated shipping containers: Refrigerated shipping containers are insulated containers transporting products requiring temperature control. These containers typically use a refrigeration unit to maintain a consistent temperature. However, more technologically advanced options now exist to transform an ordinary container into a cooler box without a refrigerated unit.
One example of such technology is the Insulated Air Liner. The Air Liner is an insulated box liner that can be inflated with air or inert gases to convert a standard cardboard box into a cooler box. It provides thermal insulation and helps to maintain the cold chain during transportation.
Gel packs and ice packs: Gel packs and ice packs maintain the temperature of refrigerated products during transportation. These ice gel packs are typically placed inside the insulated packaging to help keep the desired temperature.
They are commonly used with thermal insulating boxes and temperature/ humidity data recorders to ensure smooth delivery during transportation. In addition, it helps prevent bacteria growth and spoilage, ensuring that goods remain in good condition.
Ultimately, the choice of cold chain packaging solution will depend on the product’s specific needs and the transportation and storage conditions. Knowing what the product requires and the necessary logistic requirements will help businesses decide which cold chain packaging solution to use.
Why is cold chain packaging important for healthcare and life sciences?
Pharmaceutical products are susceptible to damage from environmental factors such as heat, humidity, light, vibrations, and shocks. Therefore, every step must be risk-free, from research to final sales. This extends to transporting and storing raw materials and the final product. Any disruption in this temperature or mishandling of the product could result in ineffective medications, vaccines, and other temperature-sensitive products.
For instance, the Journal of Pharmaceutical Policy and Practice highlights in a research paper that businesses must practice efficient cold chain management when transporting time-sensitive pharmaceutical products like the Covid-19 vaccine. The Ppfizer-BioNTech vaccine requires ultra-cold chain supply transportation and storage at -70 degrees Celsius. Dry ice, temperature-controlled insulation, and appropriate storage facilities at the port are just some cold-chain logistics necessary for successful vaccine delivery.
Therefore, such case studies show that companies developing or transporting such temperature-sensitive products must pay special attention to cold chain packaging. The loss of these products could lead to valuable data loss, reputation risk to the company, and regulatory action.
Effective cold chain packaging solutions are essential to the healthcare and life sciences industries, as they play a critical role in maintaining the safety and efficacy of products. Selecting packaging solutions that support the required temperature range is essential for safe transportation. Businesses should also monitor and track the temperature to ensure the product’s safety and efficacy.