Packagers looking for cold-chain management solutions, barrier materials, productivity-enhancing tools, reusable pallets, or contract packaging partners were well rewarded.
Barrier materialsNew barrier materials included clear structures. A three-layer polyvinylidene chloride–polyvinyl chloride (PVdC–PVC) film provides an ultrahigh barrier to oxygen and water vapor. The high-crystallinity PVdC dispersion in the middle layer also delivers higher barrier properties. Compared with conventional PVdC-coated films, the symmetrical structure exhibits excellent mechanical stability. Blister packages that incorporate the film reportedly lay flat and are handled smoothly by cartoning equipment. Available in transparent clear and opaque colors, the multilayer film thermoforms in the same temperature range as monolayer PVC. The low coefficient of friction of the PVC outer layers prevents blocking in preheat plates and ensures a consistent material flow during thermoforming. The film is ultrasonically sealable to vinyl without coatings and heat-sealable to all standard vinyl-compatible lidstocks ("Pentapharm alfoil E S03," Klöckner Pentaplast, Gordonsville, VA).
A competitor to Aclar structures provides a high barrier to water-vapor transmission. The PVdC-based films also offer a good barrier to oxygen. Options include PVdC–polyethylene (PE)–PVC, PVdC–PE–polypropylene, and PVdC–PE–PET structures. The films also can incorporate security elements ("Perlalux-Tristar Ultra" film, Perlen Converting, Whippany, NJ).
Data loggers are one way to monitor shipments and provide alerts to shippers if temperature-sensitive products are exposed to excess heat or cold. One data logger relies on a USB port for configuration and data output. The system monitors multiple trips during a 400-day period, captures 16,000 temperature data points between -35 and 70 °C, and supports compliance with 21 CFR Part 11 requirements. An "X" or check mark in the corner of the screen instantly shows whether the product experienced acceptable conditions during the trip. An integral report generator presents the collected data as a PDF file and eliminates the need to install and qualify report software. Reports may be viewed, printed, e-mailed, or stored on a network ("PDF Datalogger," Elpro Services, Marietta, OH).