Sonoco targets temperature-controlled pallet shipping

June 26, 2014
Pharmaceutical Commerce, Pharmaceutical Commerce - July/August 2014,

Certis pallet shipper employs new convection features and simplified preparation steps

Volume shippers of pharmaceutical products have the option of pallet- (or multiple-pallet-) sized unit-load devices (ULDs) that go into aircraft; or to have a self-assembled box that contains the shipment, refrigerant packs, insulation and a protective cover. ULDs—many of which also contain a powered refrigeration system—are expensive and typically leased; the self-assembled shippers are generally single-use (although components, such as the refrigerant packs, can sometimes be reused). Now, Sonoco ThermoSafe (Arlington Heights, IL) has redesigned its assembled shippers, under the Certis brand name, to provide higher efficiencies in materials and operational steps to preparing a shipment.

As explained by Ben VanderPlas, global product manager, the Certis shipper uses hollow tubes on the vertical sides of the container to enable natural convection to circulate air within it. That eliminates the need for packing refrigerant bricks on the sides of the container, which in turn reduces the overall volume and weight of the container. The refrigerant bricks themselves are specified according to the heat-transfer characteristics of the refrigerant; in a feature called “Zero Bench-Time,” the workers assembling the container can use bricks taken directly from a warehouse refrigeration system—there is no need to spend hours conditioning the container to meet temperature specifications (this conditioning can be important if sub-zero bricks are placed next to product that cannot be frozen).

Finally, the entire container is rated to meet Sonoco’s ISCsilver temperature profile: For a specified shipping lane, the container can hold its temperature range for up to five days. VanderPlas says that the ISCsilver profile is based on existing ISTA standards, but tailored to Sonoco’s own experience in managing temperature-controlled packaging for clients. Non-standard profiles can be designed and tested for the shipper as well. Overall, the container is as much as 24% lighter and 17% smaller than competing designs, and customers can experience total cost-of-ownership savings in excess of 10%, he says.