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.
HOW IT WORKS
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.
EASE AND CONVENIENCE
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.
REAL TIME TELEMETRY TRANSMISSIONS
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: http://edition.pagesuite-professional.co.uk/html5/reader/production/default.aspx?pubname=&edid=f48356d6-bff9-4ba4-82ea-30c8001c14dd&pnum=19 .