Keys to successful temperature-controlled pharma packaging
Products & Services | Sofrigam S.A
Each year, Sofrigam insulated shipping containers transport more than a billion dollars worth of pharmaceutical and biotech products around the world. The French-based company has become an acknowledged global expert in cool chain logistics.
This success is based on mastery of the three essential factors that are keys to truly effective temperature-controlled pharmaceutical packaging and the safe and controlled shipping and storage of heat sensitive vaccines, samples and other products.
Three essential factors for cool chain success
1. Polyurethane, the best insulating material by far
Polyurethane remains unrivaled as an insulation medium. It combines light weight, low cost and easy fabrication with very low thermal conductivity of 0.025 W/mK.
Polyurethane is also a flexible material, easier to process than polystyrene. It can easily be moulded into shapes to suit specific requirements. This means that polyurethane can be used to manufacture custom-designed insulated pharma packaging solutions.
Significantly, polyurethane is also a material that is easy to recycle, both mechanically and chemically. Examples of polyurethane recycling include rebonded carpet underlay or to create polyols used in automotive components.
Using polyurethane insulation ensures that products can be kept cooler for longer with reduced energy inputs and also that lighter and more compact packaging can be used. All these are key factors in reducing specific cool-chain costs.
2. Payload: more product per kilo
The term ‘payload’ denotes the ratio between the quantity of products transported and the total weight of the temperature-controlled pharma packaging. At Sofrigam, this ratio is of particular importance, with packaging solutions that are up to 35 per cent lighter than those of competitors.
“For any given external size and insulation performance, Sofrigam insulated shipping packaging solutions offer 20 per cent greater payload”, says Laëtitia Perche, Group Marketing and Communications Manager.
This achievement is partly enabled by use of polyurethane and also by application of clever design, for example in ‘sandwich’ composite construction in which insulation panels contribute to structural strength of the carton.
In addition, Sofrigam devotes much design effort to ensuring that its flat pack containers are quick to assemble and that all accessories supplied are clear and simple to use. These measures can halve the preparation time required before dispatch. This, too, forms a significant contribution to optimizing cold chain logistics.
3. Effective collaboration between laboratories, logistics and suppliers
Sofrigam encourages genuine and effective three-way collaboration between itself as the supplier of temperature-controlled packaging materials that also involves commissioning laboratories and the logistics firms that actually move cool-chain consignments.
This collaboration aims to ensure that each packaging solution precisely meets actual customer and logistical requirements.
“It is up to the logistician to ensure that the package is delivered in satisfactory condition within 48 hours. We also encourage client laboratories to place sensors in their containers in order to ensure that the temperature profiles they have requested from us remain consistent”, notes Laëtitia Perche.
This collaboration has also resulted in Sofrigam solutions that more precisely fit the requirements for palleted air cargo, for example.
The three key factors of superior insulation, maximized payload and focused collaboration allow Sofrigam to guarantee that its insulated packaging solutions will be the most efficient and cost-effective on the market.
However, in a constantly and rapidly evolving market, these three factors alone cannot ensure Sofrigam retains technical leadership.
What is also needed is a strategy to ensure the continuous improvement of design, materials and manufacturing skills. Sofrigam staff is working on all these aspects.
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