Mono and multi-configuration insulated packaging solutions compared
Press Release | Sofrigam S.A
NOVEMBER 22, 2017
Rueil Malmaison, France: – Pharmaceutical cold chain specialist Sofrigam SA has tested claims that mono-configuration universal insulated packaging materials are superior in temperature-controlled applications by staging a methodical comparison with multi-insulated seasonal solutions.
Mono-configuration or so-called “universal” packaging solutions are insulated packaging solutions that are prepared in the same way whatever the external logistical profile (season or destination). In other words, the same preparation method for the packaging solution is used all year round for all destinations. Conversely, multi-configuration or so-called “seasonal” packaging solutions require specific preparation according to meteorological seasons (summer, winter, mid-season) to comply with hot, cold or hot-cold profiles.
Theoretical advantages of mono-configuration packaging solutions
Mono-configuration insulated packaging solutions are claimed to be simpler to use, more economical and more environmentally friendly, with multiple re-use providing lower overall total cost of ownership (TCO) and total cost of package (TCP).
Sofrigam decided to examine these claims by conducting detailed quantified analysis of mono-configuration versus multi-configuration temperature controlled packaging solutions.
Technical comparison test
Sofrigam’s test team compared technical performance and price of three insulated packaging solutions from different suppliers. While all three claimed to keep the products cool at between + 2°C to +8°C for up to 120 hours, they used very different configurations:
- Solution A: multi-configuration packaging solution, with simple cardboard exterior, insulated with polyurethane (PU) and a eutectic gel cold source. This was marketed as a single-use solution.
- Solution B: mono-configuration packaging solution with a thicker cardboard exterior, insulated with vacuum insulated panels (VIP) and phase-change material (PCM) cold source. This solution was said to be suitable for short-term use (1 to 5 re-uses).
- Solution C: mono-configuration packaging solution with polypropylene coating, also using VIP insulation and PCM cold source. This solution was marketed for long-term use (more than 10 re-uses).
Weight and price: The mono-configuration insulated packaging solutions delivered significantly inferior package weight/payload volume ratios and were up to five times more costly than multi-configuration packaging solutions.
Environmental performance: Mono configuration solutions featured PCM and VIP materials. A carbon assessment was carried out on the impact of CO2 emissions from their production and revealed that the emission rate for the production of these materials exceeded those for the production of PU, polystyrene and eutectic gels. Moreover, VIP and PCM are materials that are currently more difficult to recycle.
Shock resistance: VIP alone provides less shock protection than polyurethane or extruded polystyrene, and can lose all of its thermal capacity with a single perforation.
Longevity: Mono configuration insulated packaging solutions offer increased service life and can be reused many times.
Ease of use: Mono-configuration insulated packaging solutions use the same method of preparation all year round, reducing risk of error in preparing and/or loading the packaging. Moreover, the method of preparation and loading is more easily learnt by the operators and reproduced very quickly. Conversely, with multi-configuration packaging solutions it is necessary to identify the different seasonal configurations and train the operators on several loading methods.
While mono-configuration universal insulated packaging solutions are undoubtedly easier to use and offer enhanced reusability, their use imposes other consequences on the delivered insulated packaging solution. In particular, they impose penalties on purchase cost, weight/volume, impact protection and overall environmental profile.
Therefore Sofrigam concludes that there is no ideal “one choice fits all” solution for cool-chain pharmaceutical logistics. It advises clients to list the advantages and disadvantages of each type of packaging solution to choose the most suitable insulated packaging solution according to logistical, environmental and technical constraints and its priorities.
French-based Sofrigam S.A. designs and manufactures cool chain pharmaceutical shipping solutions and insulated boxes for the life sciences industries as well as for distribution and logistics companies.
The company was founded in 1979 by an industrial pharmacist and initially developed eutectic painkillers before specializing in the design and manufacture of insulated and refrigerated packaging, including pre-qualified insulated shipping and temperature management solutions. The company is headquartered in Ile-de-France with a production site at Arras.
Sofrigam offer solutions for the cold chain logistic problems experienced by the pharmaceutical industry. It offers a range of standard and made-to-measure thermal packaging products as well as customized services designed to achieve secure, cost effective and ecological cold chain logistics.
Sofrigam has become one of Europe’s leading cold chain specialists, sharing its expertise via seminars, publications and R&D collaborations. It also offers customized products and services designed to achieve cold logistics that are secure, cost-effective and comprehensively compliant.
Sofrigam partners with Ater Métrologie, a French-based ISTA and ISO 9001 certified laboratory that specializes in testing, validating and pre-qualifying temperature-controlled packaging and cooling systems. The laboratory carries out some 2,000 tests each year.
Laetitia Perche, Marketing Director, Sofrigam SA
Tel: +33 (0) 1 46 69 85 43