NEWS & EVENTS: Lengthening Transport Times for Sensitive Goods


Increasing volumes of pharmaceutical and medical products are being shipped internationally. The longer shipping times and greater distances present a special challenge for thermally sensitive product.

FDC Packaging Inc. (Medfield, MA) recently introduced pallet shippers designed to maintain temperatures for up to five days, primarily for overseas shipments. These rigid molded-pallet shippers, available in two sizes (approximately 60 x 40 x 40 or 30 x 40 x 40 in.), are a laminate of rigid urethane and impact-resistant resin, says president Lawrence Gordon.

Energy Storage Technologies Inc. (Dayton, OH) offers the VaxiCool system for the worldwide transport of vaccines. These devices are manufactured by the firm's VacuPanel division. The VaxiCool is an 88-lb transportable refrigeration unit with 3-in. vacuum insulation panels made of Instill core from The Dow Chemical Co. Internal volume is a little over a cubic foot, but part of that volume is taken up by five 6°C VaxiSafe phase-change material packs. The unit runs on solar, battery, or grid power. A companion accessory, the VaxiPac, a vacuum-insulated cooler, is meant for transporting the vaccine from the VaxiCool to the site of use, using the VaxiSafe phase-change materials to maintain temperature.

The U.S. Army has been using the VaxiCool system to transport anthrax vaccines around the world for about four years, according to Chris Meyer, director of the VacuPanel division. In the wake of the September 11 attack, Meyer says, "not only have military orders increased, but we are now also working on some significant orders from the Centers for Disease Control for units that will be used to transport and store the anthrax vaccine for civilian populations." VacuPanel is also working to have the VaxiCool certified by the World Health Organization for worldwide vaccine distribution, which could generate demand for tens of thousands of the units over the next two years, Meyer estimates.

KLM Cargo has responded to the increased demand for airport-to- airport control of transport temperatures with its new Control service. At the Control Room level, shipments are protected from environmental extremes and held at room temperature (15° to 25°C). The next level, Control Chill, provides storage at 2° to 8°C on the ground, in the aircraft cargo hold, and at the destination airport until five hours after arrival. The highest level, Control Constant, allows shipping in a dedicated Envirotainer (Knivsta, Sweden) temperature-controlled container, which can maintain any temperature the customer specifies in the range of –20° to +20°C for up to 72 hours. The Envirotainer temperature-controlled containers are cooled with dry ice and use a patented air circulation system for efficient cooling of the carried products. The containers are available for one-way lease worldwide.

Jenevieve Blair Polin

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