“Taking air freight as an example, if planes were filled with our Overwrap systems instead of existing technologies, simplistically, you would need three planes instead of four.”

 

Loading air cargo bulk pharma distribution

PMPS magazine sat down with Richard Harrop at Topa Thermal, who explained how to ship up to 25% more product on every airline sheet without incurring extra costs or compromising shipping time or safety.

With the ongoing challenges of increased logistical costs, reduced logistics access and the need for efficiencies across the pharma supply chain, Topa Thermal’s new Connex OVERWRAP is bringing both economic and environmental benefits for pharmaceutical manufacturers, distributors and freight companies alike due to its superior load load capacity and unique flat-pack, light-weight design.

What is °Connex Overwrap? What is it designed to do?

The °Connex Overwrap is new shipping solution for transporting a pallet of temperature-sensitive pharmaceutical product. Using a °Connex Overwrap will protect the pallet of products at +15°C to +25°C or +2°C to +8°C, from 96 hours and beyond, for major bulk distribution activities. Products can come straight off the manufacturing line and onto a pallet, without any reloading procedure.

What are its unique features and benefits?

Its uniqueness comes from the Overwrap’s size efficiency, using class-leading coolant and insulation materials combined with clever packaging engineering. With the Overwrap we have created the first pallet-accepting system that has the same load capacity as any of the ‘next gen’ active solutions.

But it is not just its size efficiency that makes the Overwrap special. By removing heavy and bulky insulation materials, it is extremely cost efficient – and environmentally considerate too.

How is it used? How does it work?

Traditionally, bulk passive solutions require many assembly stages and strict load configurations. This can lead to packaging errors and lengthy assembly times. We wanted to reduce both these factors. Our simple one-person assembly and integrated coolants ensures the fastest set up time and reduces packaging error.

  • The only rigid cover solution
  • All parts delivered on one pallet, flat-pack
  • Stackable, for optimized delivery
  • Occupies less warehouse space
  • Pre-filled coolant-insulation cassettes
  • Self-supporting design

Who is the °Connex Overwrap designed to help?

The Overwrap gets to work helping your business right from the moment it comes into your warehouse.

Firstly, it is space-saving. It arrives flat packed and is up to 50% smaller than any other flat pack bulk pallet solution, bringing warehouse efficiencies.

Secondly it is labour-saving. Light-weight and easy one-person assembly means fast set up time and lower build costs.

Thirdly it is cost-saving. Because of the Overwrap’s efficient load capacity (up to 25% more product)  what was four PMCs of product becomes three, significantly lowering freight costs.

Of course, in addition to business benefits, the superior load efficiency of the Connex Overwrap means more life-saving products can reach more patients.

The Overwrap is also designed with the environment in mind. By slimming down the packaging materials used and reducing the size and weight of the pallet shipper, brings considerable CO2 benefits. The system can also be reused, or the individual components recycled.

Why was it developed?

We have a responsibility as packaging providers to make products that meet market requirements. We kept finding that many of the bulk systems in use today tried to cover too many distributional challenges, resulting in user comprise either at the performance or product load end. Initially we focused on the +15°C to +25°C requirements our customers had and found that many of the existing +15°C to +25°C solutions in service today were simply reskinned variations of bulky +2°C to +8°C solutions, often leaving the end user to make a space comprise due to the left-over materials from a different requirement, taking up valuable payload space.

My team’s raison d’être is to challenge the accepted way of doing things. We look at where our users are having to compromise when choosing a thermal packaging solution and we remove those constraints and compromises.

The Overwrap helps our customers overcome the growing challenge of increased logistical costs combined with reduced logistics access. Taking air freight as an example, if planes were filled with our Overwrap systems instead of existing technologies, simplistically, you would only need 3 planes instead of 4.

Where was the Overwrap developed and where is it manufactured?

The Overwrap was developed at our Topa Institute and is the only test and research centre in our industry that has both specialisms of thermal and mechanical testing side by side. So, transit strength is of equal importance to thermal performance. Using the skills of our design engineers and thermal and mechanical test technologists, all our Overwrap systems are thermally and mechanically tested. The Overwrap and all our Connex thermal packaging products are designed, tested and manufactured at our European centre in The Netherlands.

  • Airline-ready unique design
  • ASTM transport tested
  • Thermally qualified for 120+ hours duration

What advantages does the Overwrap have?

Compared with competitive systems, the Overwrap uses fewer packaging materials. It is therefore smaller in size, lighter in weight and so is very cost-efficient. Because it uses less packaging, it also has reduced CO2 impact.

  • 55% loadable shipping ratio – highest payload vs outside dimensions ratio of all passive and active shippers in the market.
  • Outperforms existing passive solutions – 35% less billable weight
  • EU and US pallet accepting
  • 50% more warehouse efficient than competitive systems

Is it available now? When will other solutions in the range be available?

The Overwrap is available in +15°C to +25°C Euro pallet and US pallet versions. We will be adding the +2°C to +8°C variants by the end of this year.

What was your involvement in the project?

As Topa Thermal product director, I bring everyone in our organisation together, listen to ideas, creating teams and managing the new product development pipeline. I supervise how a concept becomes a finished product, making sure it is both good for us, and good for our customers.

What was the greatest challenge and what was the greatest issue faced?

As Topa Thermal product director, I bring everyone in our organisation together, listen to ideas, creating teams and managing the new product development pipeline. I supervise how a concept becomes a finished product, making sure it is both good for us, and good for our customers.

In any thermal packaging solution, there is a fine balance between performance and price. How do we give the best level of performance at a realistic price? Topa Thermal strives to be the company that leads the way in terms of accessibility.  We as engineers need to provide the highest level of accessibility to people that need to move lifesaving products.

What has been the market reaction?

We are thrilled at the market reaction so far. We are already fulfilling orders with early adopters as well as running user trials with logistics providers who are recognising the benefits the Overwrap brings.

“If you are a 3PL, you are delivering thousands of temperature-sensitive systems a day. Using a thermal shipping system like the °Connex Overwrap that is easy to construct, simple to condition, has few moving parts and has the potential to be reused, offers the highest level of efficiency when moving temperature-sensitive pharmaceutical products through airline networks.”

Connex Overwrap thermal packaging for bulk distribution

This article was first published in Pharmaceutical Manufacturing and Packing Sourcer August 2022.