First published in European Pharmaceutical Manufacturer, August 2023

In just one year, companies across many healthcare sectors have cut freight costs and reduced CO2 impact by simply shipping their pharmaceutical products in a different type of bulk thermal packaging.

Pharmaceutical manufacturers, wholesalers and distributors alike have found that using a °Connex Overwrap thermal shipper to protect and transport their products in bulk has reduced their freight costs by as much as 40%, lowered the CO2 impact of their distribution by 31% and even halved packing time. The new pallet shipper has brought many other benefits to their logistics operations too.

A more efficient, cheaper and sustainable supply chain

°Connex Overwrap was introduced to the market in 2022 by Topa Thermal, the Netherlands-based thermal packaging innovator, offering a more sustainable, logistically efficient and economic solution for shipping temperature-sensitive healthcare products in bulk.

Compared to traditional thermal pallet packaging systems, the slimline, special coolant-wall design of the Overwrap creates additional payload capacity but from a much smaller, lighter container. With an impressive 55% loadable shipping ratio it has the highest payload vs outside dimensions ratio of all passive and active shippers in the market.

Richard Harrop, product director at Topa Thermal: “The °Connex OVERWRAP thermal shipper has a unique size-CO2 efficient design that makes your temperature controlled distribution more efficient, cheaper and sustainable. No matter where you sit in the supply chain.”

Here are three success stories where the °Connex Overwrap has already made a difference.

€600k annual saving for pharma manufacturer

Firstly, using the Connex Overwrap thermal shipper, saved a major pharmaceutical manufacturer €600,000 in freight costs and lowered CO2 emissions by 31%; the CO2 equivalent of over 100,000 cars in one year.

The manufacturer wanted to lower the CO2 impact of their logistics, but at the same time maintain the same performance and thermal protection of products during transit.  “We applied a total cost of ownership approach to their distribution using the Connex Overwrap,” says Richard Harrop. “The space and CO2-saving attributes of its design reduced CO2, and cut freight costs significantly due to lower volumetric weight per shipment. Consequently their whole logistics operation is faster, lighter and more efficient.”

Packing time halved for pharma wholesaler

Secondly, in the case of a wholesaler shipping temperature sensitive pharmaceuticals from Europe to Canada, the company needed a bulk thermal packaging solution that met the thermal and durational performance demands of international shipping, at the right price.

By using the Connex Overwrap thermal shipper, they cut shipping costs by 40% and nearly doubled shipping duration from 4 to 7 days. They also halved packing time because the Overwrap is very light, has fewer components, and can be assembled by one person. “We needed a cost-effective thermal shipper that performs at 15°C – 25°C for +120 hours. Connex Overwrap gives that and much more.” They also reduced the overall CO2 impact of their distribution due to the Overwrap shipper’s light-weight, high capacity design made from sustainable and reusable materials.

Freight cost down 35% for logistics company

Thirdly, the benefit for pharma distribution also extends to the logistics side of the lifesciences cold chain. A 3PL customer needed an alternative thermal packaging solution to deliver temperature sensitive pharmaceuticals safely and cost-effectively from the UK to the US.

Richard Harrop: “Connex OVERWRAP is 35% smaller than conventional quarter PMC solutions, but has the same payload capacity and is also much lighter. This means that we were able to cut the billable weight of each shipment by a third and cut freight costs even further by shipping more product per load.” Also, the new thermal shipper gives the added benefit of handling efficiencies, quicker packing and is size-optimised size for direct-to-rollerbed loading.

Announced as a BSMA Sustainability Supply Chain Award Finalist in 2022 (“Smart Thermal Packaging Solution for Improved Impact on CO2 Emissions in Bulk Pharma Distribution”) the last 12 months has seen the Connex Overwrap qualified for safe delivery of bulk pharmaceuticals, going from user trials and early adoption to use in commercial and international freight channels.

In just 12 months, Connex Overwrap has proven economic, logistical and environmental benefits for the pharmaceutical cold chain. Ultimately its superior load efficiency means more life-saving products can reach more patients more efficiently.