Controlled-Environment Cases

Tested insulation methods keep cases cool.

By Maximillian Del Rey
Assistant Editor

Pallet-sized insulated container manufacturer Hermani AG (Palm Beach, FL) is working with the University of Florida to test its containers’ readability distances and use with e-pedigree to ensure temperature and theft-prevention ability during transport.

Although these tests are still in progress, Hermani’s containers have already seen a growth in sales to pharmaceutical and medical cold-chain transport customers, says Emilio Lopez, managing director of Hermani.

“The Red Cross of Australia maintained frozen blood for 10 days in the Roll 1000 using 10 [eutectic] plates.” The Australian Red Cross (ARC) formerly shipped frozen blood by air—at very high costs—Lopez says. Hermani’s pallet-sized containers allowed the or ganization to ship it by ground while ensuring the blood kept its temperature. ARC did not want to use dry ice, Lopez says, because too much would have been needed to maintain temperature.

Hermani’s line of Bac and Roll containers, available in volumes ranging from 50 to 1400 L, employ passive-cold energy to keep products at temperature. The company’s eutectic plates determine the length of time that the container will maintain temperature. The plates can maintain both extreme positive and negative temperatures.

“Hermani’s eutectic plates come in six standard temperatures, but we can make eutectic plates that reach –114°C to 114°C without dry ice or electricity,” Lopez says.

The 1079-L Roll 1000, with its standard plate load, can maintain 2° to 8°C temperatures for 96 hours. With more plates, ranges can be pushed further, although capacity will diminish. Subfreezing temperatures can be sustained longer, with use of Hermani’s –21°C and –26°C eutectic plates.

Pharmaceutical and medical packaging comprises about 20-25% of Hermani’s business for 2008, Lopez says, and the industry promises to take a larger role in the future.

“Biotechnology, red cell–based drugs, and the storage of dry ice have promoted the growth of our insulated containers,” Lopez explains. “When they see and use the container, the feedback is phenomenal.”

Hermani’s customers, Lopez says, are waiting for an e-pedigree mandate before implementing RFID. Hermani has not yet equipped its cold containers with RFID for customers, but Lopez does not foresee a problem equipping them when the need arises.

The University of Florida’s final epedigree testing will be confirmed on February 11; its report will be ready to be released for commercialization by the end of February.

A major pharmaceutical manufacturer, however, validated one Hermani container for a product that needed to maintain –40°C without external power. The company transported the Roll 220 a short distance between buildings without eutectic plates. The results were positive, and the manufacturer is now evaluating its purchase options.

Hermani’s 221-L Roll 220 unit has received considerable attention at recent trade shows, Lopez says.

“The response has been excellent and customers are interested in shipping pharmaceutical and biotechnology products in a more controlled environment,” he says. “At the same time, they want flexibility in obtaining the insulated container system without getting into a contract. We are seeing a lot of interest from Asia, especially for the transport of pharmaceutical ingredients.”

Lopez says customers were attracted to the idea of cold containers that did not need to be opened during transport. Companies were also impressed by Hermani’s extensive testing and eutectic plates.

“There are many insulated containers in the market,” Lopez says, “but most manufacture just the bin and don’t offer options for the cold energy. Some do come with gel packs or other materials, but the selection is just one or two sizes.”

Hermani’s new concept in cold chain logistics pushes customers’ flexibility to new heights. Its eutectic plates allow containers to sustain temperatures for longer periods without external energy. Its designs might become the (cold) wave of the future.

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