Interest in reusable shipping solutions continues to grow in the pharmaceutical and biotech industries, but companies do grapple with cost of ownership, reports Kevin Lawler, vice president, sales, Minnesota Thermal Science (MTS; Plymouth, MN). The company, which has been serving these markets with its Credo Cube thermal packaging systems, has been working to reduce maintenance costs and is set to release its latest solution at IQPC’s 9th Cold Chain & Temperature Management Global Forum this September.
“For many, the standard outer container for reusable shippers has been a corrugated or plastic corrugated outer box,” explains Lawler. “The issue has been the constant replacement over time of the corrugated outers as they become worn or soiled.”
To lengthen the life span of the outer component, MTS is devising a reusable outer component made of high-density polyethylene. This new outer will be designed to integrate the patented encapsulation of six individual vacuum-
insulated panels (VIPs) that can each be removed and replaced independently if needed.
“Maintenance costs will be greatly reduced, which will in turn significantly reduce our clients’ cost of ownership,” says Lawler.
One of the challenges MTS faced was to strike the right balance between light weight and durability. “Customers wanted something durable and reusable with lower cost of ownership, but also lightweight in order to minimize shipping costs,” says Lawler. MTS offers other hard shell containers today, but they are of the heavy duty military-grade variety, and they exceed the costs and requirements of many commercial clients.
Spending the last six months in design reviews with logistics companies and pharmaceutical customers, MTS developed and studied various designs for their usability and durability. “The result is a design featuring VIPs built into the hard plastic outer component and ease of use features that make this a great solution from the warehouse pack-out area and through the entire logistics network,” says Lawler.
“We expect the final design to be about 2 to 3 lb heavier than a standard plastic corrugated outer,” adds Lawler. “We also expect it to be in use for about 2 to 3 years.”
MTS also expects the newer outer component to improve shipper thermal performance and therefore offer lengthened transit options. “It should offer thermal performance that is about 10–15% better,” says Lawler. MTS is currently manufacturing models for thermal testing.
These latest additions to the Credo family will initially be available in 10-, 12-, and 16-liter options. MTS will then roll the design out to its other Credo products as required. Through its design reviews with major logistics carriers, MTS was able to devise designs that will be considered commercially standard, reports Lawler.
Final production models will be on display at the IQPC show September 26–30 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia.