When temperature-sensitive pharmaceuticals and vaccines are shipped around the world, they need a packaging system that will ensure a stable temperature is maintained, irrespective of transit time or ambient temperature. When the challenges of the distribution are known or easily controlled, then in many cases a pre-qualified thermal packaging solution will be suitable.

Maarten Kleverlaan, Technical Solution Manager: Topa Thermal, for example, has one of the largest qualified ranges available. We have over 250 °Connex Geo solutions, giving a wide choice and flexibility when meeting a particular need. However, we know that for a more complex or challenging distribution, a custom approach might be required.

But, opting for custom-made doesn’t mean it has to be costly. Through our °Connex You solution process, we look at the entire distribution from first to last mile, so that everything is completely streamlined and fully integrated with your logistics strategy.

What’s the process for a custom-made solution?

The aim of every °Connex You program is to develop the best packaging solution for your business. We start by identifying the characteristics of the product and then define the distributional challenges and limitations. Once all needs have been determined – only then do we consider the most appropriate packaging materials.

Developing the best customised solutions is not just about thermal constraints.

During the design phase we not only look at the thermal suitability of the materials. We also consider mechanical and environmental factors as well. With °Connex You, our specialist team works hand in hand with you to identify your challenge to qualify the perfect thermal packaging solution.

Much of this work is carried out at our ISTA-certified testing centre which is the only one in the industry to combine both thermal and mechanical testing within one facility. It’s this unique combination that means our packaging solutions not only meet the thermal challenge but also the mechanical rigors of what can often be global distribution, using the fewest materials possible. This ensures delicate and sensitive pharmaceutical products arrive at their destination safely.

How changing from a pre-qualified to a customised solution helped our customer.

Recently, we were approached by a major biopharmaceutical company who had made an important change to their logistics strategy. This change however meant their pre-qualified solutions no longer met their distributional challenge.

We were asked to evaluate their whole distribution process, including the existing pre-qualified systems used during clinical trials. We needed to consider all the logistical constraints encountered over a 3-leg distribution challenge. In addition to the different levels of thermal protection required (below -60°C for the 1st and 2nd leg and +2°C to +8°C for the 3rd leg and last mile), the product also needed very robust mechanical protection.

Switching from a pre-qualified to a customised thermal packaging solution doesn’t mean it’s expensive. And it’s certainly not less robust or performance limited. In fact, a customised solution can exceed expectations.

Biopharma Distribution: Case Study

How one business was Improved by Introducing a Customised Packaging Solution

The Results

  • A fully optimised distribution, with increased products packed per pallet –  compared with a pre-qualified solution – and reduced shipping costs
  • Savings on packaging material and reduced transport costs due to reduced capacity required on road and air freight.
  • Packaging systems qualified to required temperatures, with longer than anticipated qualified target duration.
  • Simplified packing process and reduced packing time. Packaging systems are supplied fully set up with no assembly necessary. In addition, no repacking required for the last mile distribution direct to pharmacy or patient.
  • Optimised design of product box in line with size of the shipper for last mile of shipping.
  • Fully interchangeable components so only one shipper needed for different products and temperatures. Only the inner componentry differs.

A complete logistics strategy for safe commercial delivery worldwide.

Through our °Connex You service, Topa engineers designed a customised solution that fully optimised both bulk shipping during the 1st and 2nd leg, as well as vial shipping for the 3rd leg and last mile.

Reduced operating costs, and more.

The results and benefits of switching to a customised approach were even greater than anticipated. In addition to a packaging solution that was fully optimised for their unique needs they also lowered damage risk to their delicate products during transport and significantly reduced operating costs throughout the supply chain.

Could a custom thermal packaging solution work for you?

A well-executed project, where the thermal packaging partner is well invested in the process, will see benefits for all stakeholders.

Evaluating your complete distribution from manufacture to last mile, means that packaging solutions are optimised to your specific needs, and not everybody’s needs. And this brings total project benefits for your logistics strategy, across the whole supply chain.


This article was first published in Pharmaceutical Manufacturing and Packing Sourcer October 2021, pages 32-33. © Samedan Ltd