Containers Insulate Companies from Product Loss - Pharmaceutical Technology

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Containers Insulate Companies from Product Loss
New packaging options monitor and protect temperature-sensitive products.


Pharmaceutical Technology
Volume 3, Issue 32

More innovations

Coldchain uses passive temperature sensors in its temperature-sensitive shipments, but active technology also is available. One new product, a validated temperature indicator, protects freeze-sensitive pharmaceutical products by integrating reliable, electronic temperature measurement into a compact, easy-to-use device.


Sensitechs FreezeAlert monitor helps users make accept-reject decisions.
Designed as an alternative to chemical freeze indicators, the electronic device is validated and calibrated to the requirements of the National Institute of Standards and Technology. The unit offers custom time and temperature alarm thresholds so a customer can tailor settings to reduce the chance of product damage and false alarms. A simple liquid-crystal display helps the user make immediate accept–reject decisions about incoming shipments “FreezeAlert” indicator, Sensitech, Beverly, MA).

Other new, reusable cold-chain shipping systems include a 36-L container with a tough exterior fabricated to Air Transport Association requirements. An 11-L size model with a carrying handle features the same rugged exterior, enhanced thermal efficiency, and light weight.

Neither unit needs gel packs to maintain refrigerated shipments at temperatures between 2 and 8 C. The systems maintain this temperature for at least five days in an average ambient temperature of 25 C. An on-board data logger monitors internal and external temperatures ("ATA R36C" container, "R11TC" container, Kodiak Thermal Technologies, Houston, TX).

The first compressor-driven air cargo container approved by the Federal Aviation Administration is now cleared for use in the cargo holds of aircraft. Designed to transport bulk temperature-sensitive products, the container holds shipments on standard 48 40-in. pallets. A combination of advanced insulation and temperature-management technologies allows the container to maintain a constant temperature for more than 100 h, a duration four times longer than that of dry-ice containers.

An adjustable operator interface allows the user to select temperature set points between 4 and 25 C. An integral data-logging system verifies that the required temperature is maintained. In addition to recording internal and ambient temperature data, the system monitors battery power, door openings and power-mode changes from AC to battery ("AcuTemp AX2100L" refrigeration container, AcuTemp Thermal Systems, Dayton, OH, marketed as "AcuTemp RKN," AmSafe, Phoenix, AZ).

A related pallet-size container delivers similar protection for ground shipments and eliminates the need for refrigerated trucks in closed-loop or over-the-road, less-than-truckload settings ("AcuTemp AX2100LG," AcuTemp Thermal Systems).

Temperature-sensitive biotechnology products are multiplying. Temperature abuse causes the loss of millions, if not billions, of dollars worth of vaccines and drugs each year. In this environment, cold-chain management will remain a major responsibility for the pharmaceutical industry. Fortunately, new tools to maintain products at the proper temperature are being introduced to the market constantly. Not only do these tools help prevent products from becoming too warm or too cold, but they also may reduce shipping costs, occupy less space in the warehouse, simplify packaging and handling and meet today's demands for sustainability.

Hallie Forcinio is Pharmaceutical Technology's Packaging Forum editor, 4708 Morningside Drive, Cleveland, OH 44109, tel. 216.351.5824, fax 216.351.5684,


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