Category: News and Events

Breathing New Life Into The Cold Chain

Transporting temperature-sensitive and critical life sciences products by air has been fraught in the past, given these products have a strict temperature range that cannot be breached. Exposure to divergent temperature ranges en route through airports was always a challenge.

Cathay Pacific Cargo is working with suppliers to offer a range of shipping solutions that use new technologies. They have been designed to meet life-science’s ever more complex and precise cold-chain demands and regulations.

One of the most recent of these partnerships is with Sonoco ThermoSafe and its PharmaPort 360 container solution. Through its patented technology, PharmaPort 360 offers the reassurance of ‘active’ container products alongside the cost efficiencies of passive  products. One of its prominent features is live telemetry recordings of location and temperature, accessible to shippers.

The PharmaPort 360 is also incredibly easy to operate – it requires a 12-hour charge for the container to operate to its full potential and has few complex moving parts.


PharmaPort 360 doesn’t use traditional refrigeration methods, but rather a patented system with a hot and cold plate. It can be fully charged in 12 hours and offers a stable internal temperature of 5°C for up to 72 hours when the container is in an ambient temperature of 30°C. ‘It can add flexibility to journey times and routings,’ says Gary Sze, Cathay Pacific Cargo Products Manager.

As soon as the PharmaPort 360 is charged and unplugged from the electrical supply, the internal temperature is maintained by a constantly running fan that circulates air from the stored thermal energy of the plates. The plates are exposed from behind insulated vacuum panels as and when required.

‘This enables us to be super- precise in terms of temperature,’ says Chris Day, Director of Global Business Development at Sonoco ThermoSafe. ‘Because the fan is always on, the temperature gradient is smoother than containers that use compressors, which requires spikes of energy and create more of a zig-zag temperature profile over the course of the shipment,’ he adds.


Unlike compressor boxes, PharmaPort 360 boxes do not exhaust hot air and they can therefore be stored next to perishable shipments and transported in an ambient truck, which can help keep costs down. They are also solidly built and have fewer moving parts than some active containers.

In other products, temperature excursions are usually caused by mechanical failures, such as a refrigeration compressor failing or because of a human element. ‘It might be that it’s not programmed properly,’ says Sze. But, as the PharmaPort 360 is set to operate to one temperature (at 5°C, which covers 80 percent of biotech shipments) it doesn’t require programming. ‘You simply plug it in and unplug it before shipping – that’s it,’ adds Sze. It travels with a bag of 10 different adaptors and can use any local power supply.


PharmaPort 360 proves its reliability by transmitting data from its integrated network of sensors. Sonoco ThermoSafe’s Day says: ‘The sensors capture and transmit data all the time – the temperature inside, the ambient temperature outside the container, plus GPS positioning and all the mechanical functions, such as battery life, and the energy levels in the thermal plates.’

The in-air segment is not transmitted due to inflight regulations, but there’s a solution for this too, as Cathay’s Sze explains: ‘PharmaPort 360 is approved by the FAA because each is fitted with an accelerometer, altimeter and an algorithm that can detect when the aircraft is taking off. At takeoff, transmission stops but recording continues. On landing, the transmitter is switched back on and a batch transmission is sent out.’

PharmaPort 360’s data is dense and accessible. Day says: ‘We can replay every trip and if there are investigations, we can get answers in minutes rather than months, and we keep the data for five years.’Cathay Pacific’s Sze says: ‘This product is a generation ahead. We’re proud to offer this innovative product to our customers.’

This article was originally published in the February 2019 issue of Pharmaceutical Manufacturing and Packing Sourcer.  Click the link to access to full feature: .

Sonoco ThermoSafe and United Cargo Launch Global Partnership to Lease PharmaPort 360 Temperature Controlled Bulk Shippers

Sonoco ThermoSafe, a leading global provider of temperature assurance packaging, announced a global partnership agreement with United Cargo for the leasing of the PharmaPort 360 temperature controlled bulk shipping container. The agreement enables pharmaceutical shippers to lease PharmaPort 360 containers directly from United Cargo.

The PharmaPort 360 is a smart active container, distinguished as the only active temperature controlled container in the industry that contains a fully integrated, FAA-approved telemetry system, providing real-time, cloud-based data on payload and ambient temperature and key mechanical components, precisely synchronized with GPS location. Additionally, the PharmaPort 360 utilizes proprietary thermal technology to provide extremely precise, long duration +5C temperature control for transporting high value cargo for the world’s leading biopharmaceutical companies.

“We are proud to be the first North American carrier to sign a direct leasing agreement with Sonoco ThermoSafe,” said United Cargo President Jan Krems. “Along with our relentless focus on speed, reliability and quality, TempControl customers appreciate our drive to ensure our service remains relevant and valuable to the evolving pharmaceutical marketplace. We are excited to offer customers the ability to lease the PharmaPort 360, a smart active packaging option, for the safe transport of health care material on our TempControl network of 68 certified locations.”

“We are delighted to partner with United Cargo, the first North American airline to provide one-way rentals of the best-in-class PharmaPort 360 temperature control containers. Given the extensive scope of United Cargo’s TempControl network, this partnership enables the pharmaceutical supply chain to cost-effectively ship across the Americas, Europe and Asia-Pacific regions,” said Christopher Day, director of global business development for Sonoco ThermoSafe’s Leasing Services division. “Additionally, Sonoco’s 300+ global locations allow the Sonoco ThermoSafe division to quickly and efficiently expand the depot network for leasing PharmaPort units across the globe.” Visit to learn more.

Leading Minds Seminar 2018: Managing risk, Measuring Stability

Participants hear about USP guidance updates, industry best practices in cold chain
Sponsored by Elpro, a leading provider of dataloggers and other temperature-monitoring equipment, and Sonoco ThermoSafe, a leading provider of temperature-controlled packaging, the Leading Minds seminar is intended to be an information-sharing session among industry participants, especially when disparate parts of the pharma supply chain, from manufacturer to wholesaler to transportation provider come together. The meeting (June 6-7) brought about 75 participants together at Normandy Farm, a hotel/conference center in Blue Bell, PA.

A recurring theme of the meeting, chaired by Geoff Glauser, a consultant with the Biological Research and Development Authority (BARDA) of HHS, is the stability budget of drug substances—when they are part of a clinical trial; when product launch is approached; and when the full life cycle of the drug during commercial exploitation is experienced. Glauser notes that the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), a sister agency to BARDA, will allow for pricing premiums for CDC vaccine and drug stockpiles, when the manufacturer does the testing to ensure that the drugs can be kept stockpiled for extended periods of time.A variety of speakers, including scientists, pharmacists and engineers from Biogen, Merck, NIH and Elpro, explored the intricacies of measuring stability, making use of stability budgets in various stages of a cold chain shipment, and applying risk-based considerations to temperature excursions during shipments. Jeffery Carrico, PharmD, chief of clinical pharmacy and investigational drug research at HHS, noted that NIH sponsors upwards of 500 trials a year, and managing trial logistics is a challenge. “Everyone knows that the key factors are distance, time and temperature when it comes to maintaining a compliant trial logistics process, but verifying this in an auditable fashion is difficult,” he noted. One example: how to track a drug being tested, when the drug sample itself is blinded to investigators and patients.
Another range of factors affecting stability is not just measuring the effects of TOR (time out of refrigeration), but also freeze-thaw cycles, temperature spikes, and changes to a drug formulation between the clinical testing stages and final composition.

Chris Anderson, director of quality systems at Cardinal Health, and a member of the expert committee at US Pharmacopeia, gave an update of USP <1079>, Good Storage and Shipping Practices, which has been under an update cycle since 2016, and for which a draft version is going to be published in July. USP will be soliciting comments on the draft through the end of this year, and in February, a committee vote is scheduled for making the new version a final guidance. In general, says Anderson, risk-based approaches to managing storage and shipping practices will be a key part of the update.

Other sessions at the meeting included the challenges of controlled room-temperature (CRT) shipments, temperature monitoring protocols, and evaluating active versus passive shipping containers with a risk-based perspective. Dirk Rodgers, global regulatory strategist at Systech International, and blogger at, gave an update on blockchain as applied to pharma supply chains. Vishal Khushalani, director of global marketing at Sonoco ThermoSafe, outlined an evolving approach to the economics of reused cold-chain packaging, in which programs tailored to the shipping lanes, the types of packaging materials, and the shared responsibilities of the shipper and the packaging provider, can be worked out.

The meeting concluded on the second day with guided tours of a Sonoco ThermoSafe facility, and an Elpro user group session.Leading Minds is planned to be an annual event for the Sonoco ThermoSafe / Elpro collaboration. More information is available here.

Original Publication: Basta, Nick. “Leading Minds Seminar 2018: Managing risk, measuring stability.” Pharmaceutical Commerce, 13 June, 2018,

Sonoco ThermoSafe and Cathay Pacific Cargo Launch Global Partnership to Lease PharmaPort 360 Temperature Control Bulk Shippers

Sonoco ThermoSafe, a leading global provider of temperature assurance packaging, and Cathay Pacific Cargo, one of the world’s largest air cargo carriers,  announced a global partnership agreement for the leasing of the PharmaPort 360  temperature controlled bulk shipping container. The agreement enables pharmaceutical shippers to lease PharmaPort 360 containers directly from Cathay Pacific Cargo.

The PharmaPort 360 utilizes proprietary hybrid technology to provide extremely precise, long duration +5C temperature control for transporting high value cargo for the world’s leading biopharmaceutical companies. Once charged, the PharmaPort functions like an active temperature controlled container without the energy consumption, heat discharge or temperature variability of other compressor-based technologies. The PharmaPort’s hybrid technology allows it to operate on battery power substantially longer than competing active units used for bulk air shipments, and it also eliminates the need for refrigerated trucks for lengthy truck lanes. Additionally, the PharmaPort 360 is the only container in the industry that contains a fully integrated, FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) approved telemetry system, providing real-time, cloud-based data on payload and ambient temperature and key mechanical components, precisely synchronized with GPS location.

Cathay Pacific Cargo, which is CEIV-certified, is the first carrier in the world to sign a direct contract with Sonoco ThermoSafe. The PharmaPort 360 will provide another active container solution to the impressive Pharma LIFT portfolio of Cathay Pacific Cargo, offering more choice and service to customers worldwide.

“Sonoco recently topped the list of Fortune’s World’s Most Admired Companies in the packaging sector. Its reputation for quality perfectly aligns with our own high standards for service delivery,” said Frosti Lau, general manager of cargo service delivery for Cathay Pacific Cargo. “We are delighted to have this unique and world’s-first partnership with Sonoco ThermoSafe, and we are confident this collaboration will provide our customers with a consistent solution for the transportation of vital and life-saving pharmaceutical products.”

“We are delighted to partner with a high-quality and service-oriented carrier such as Cathay Pacific Cargo which has one of the most extensive networks in the world. This partnership enables the pharmaceutical supply chain to now directly lease from Cathay Pacific Cargo the best-in-class PharmaPort 360 temperature control containers on a one-way lease basis across the Americas, Europe and Asia-Pacific regions,” said Vishal Khushalani, director of global marketing & business development for Sonoco Protective Solutions. “Additionally, Sonoco’s 300+ global locations allow the Sonoco ThermoSafe division to efficiently expand the depot network for leasing PharmaPort units across the globe.” Visit to learn more.

ChillTech®: A Reusable Range of Shipping Solutions for Temperature-Sensitive Pharmaceutical and Biological Shipments


We’ve launched a new range of reusable, universal solutions for the pharmaceutical and biologics markets. ChillTech® is a pre-qualified range of 2°C to 8°C PCM systems providing exceptional temperature control from 2 days up to 6 days for payloads from 4L to 40L. ChillTech® utilizes Sonoco ThermoSafe’s patented Zero Bench-Time® technology, where systems can be packed-out straight from the freezer, saving customers space, time and money.

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Product Launch: Cost-Effective Range of 48-Hour Pre-Qualified Temperature Controlled Shippers

Certis NEW Hero

We have expanded the Certis® brand of one-way shipping solutions to include a 2-day platform for the express distribution of pharmaceutical and biological products. Just as in the award winning* Certis® 3-Day & 5-Day Platform, the Certis® 2-Day Platform utilizes the same pack-out for 2-8°C, 15-25°C and frozen shipments. Using just three types of refrigerants and four shippers to create 12 solutions, the Certis® 2-Day Platform maximizes the number of solutions while minimizing the number of components. The new platform is sized to accommodate 7, 13, 27 and 56 liters of product. Each of the new solutions feature a year round pack-out designed for use in both hot and cold seasons.

“When designing the Certis® 2-Day platform we focused on minimizing overall cost of ownership. Not only are these new solutions cost effective, but users will also see additional savings through operational efficiencies. With the use of our unique ZERO Bench-Time® technology our customers can immediately pack-out each solution and reduce their assembly time and space requirements,” said Ben VanderPlas, global product manager. “In combination with our Certis® 3-Day and 5-Day platform of solutions, the Certis® product line now offers a complete portfolio of temperature ranges, durations, and payload sizes.”

The Certis 2-Day Platform is designed to Sonoco ThermoSafe’s ISC Regional™ ambient temperature profile for short term shipments. Available in both U.S. and European facilities. Visit to learn more.

*2016 Cold Chain Global Forum Excellence Awards – Most Innovative New Cold Chain Technology of the Year, Winner for the Certis® 3-Day & 5-Day Platform.

Sonoco ThermoSafe Expands Range of LD7 Pallet Shippers For Temperature-Sensitive Bulk Air Shipment


Sonoco ThermoSafe, a leading global provider of temperature assurance packaging,  leverages award winning technology to expand its line of pallet solutions with the launch of the LD7 Half PAG pallet shipper. The Half PAG solution is designed to ship multiple pallet loads, whilst reducing the cost and operational complexity of bulk shipments by optimizing the use of aircraft ULDs (LD7 air pallets). The Half PAG is available for 2-8°C or 15-25°C temperature ranges with durations in excess of five days. Each solution has a universal pack-out design to be used in both hot and cold seasons while also accommodating the demands of cross-hemispheric shipments.

“The new Half PAG pallet shipper features the same award winning* and innovative patented and patent-pending design technologies used in the Quarter PMC, most notably ConvecTECH™ and the unique interlock L-shaped panels. ConvecTECH™ technology, maximises the natural convection to eliminate side refrigerants, maximising payload space, reducing shipment weight and simplifying packing procedures. Additionally, the unique interlocking L-shaped panels eliminates corner leaks and drastically reduces edge leaks,” said Ben VanderPlas, Global Product Manager, Sonoco ThermoSafe.

LD7 Half PAG is part of a wider family of space and weight optimized pallet solutions, designed to offer loading and carrying compatibility on modern passenger/freighter aircrafts. Please visit for additional information on our range of temperature-controlled packaging pallet solutions.

*2016 Cold Chain Global Forum Excellence Awards – Most Innovative New Cold Chain Technology of the Year, Runner Up for the Quarter PMC Passive Pallet Shipper.

Sonoco ThermoSafe Survey Reveals The Current And Future Trends In The Clinical Trial Supplies Market


Sonoco ThermoSafe has in partnership with Arena International Events Group and Berlinger & Co. AG, today announced the results of an industry survey entitled “Assessing the Current and Future State of Clinical Trial Supplies”. The survey was co-developed by an advisory panel of industry experts from clinical operations, clinical trial supply logistics and packaging, as well as bio-pharma manufacturing and supply chain organizations.

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Sonoco Makes Fortune “World’s Most Admired” List Again

fortune17Sonoco is pleased to announce the Company ranks second overall in the packaging sector on FORTUNE’s World’s Most Admired Companies list! Sonoco ranked first in its industry in both Financial Soundness and Long-Term Investment Value and second in Innovation, Social Responsibility and Global Competitiveness.

FORTUNE’S World’s Most Admired Companies list is the definitive report card on corporate reputations. Executives, directors and analysts rate companies in their own industry on nine criteria, from investment value to social responsibility. A company’s score must rank in the top half of its industry survey to be listed.

See Sonoco’s full profile here.

Learn more about all of the Most Admired listings here.