Tuesday, May 28, 2024
Efficient transport for an evolving market

Efficient transport for an evolving market

Amid growing demand for air transportation of pharma and healthcare products, ensuring the safe and efficient transport of life-saving drugs and vaccines has never been more critical.  

Sonoco ThermoSafe looks to meet the opportunities presented by this evolving market segment by offering a full range of packaging solutions; including parcel and bulk systems, and for any temperature range including refrigerated, frozen and controlled room temperature shipments (CRT).   

ThermoSafe is a division of Sonoco, a global organisation with more than 20,500 employees in 300 operations across 32 countries.  With operations in the Americas, Europe and Asia, Sonoco ThermoSafe is continuing to build on 120+ years knowledge and experience. 

“When customers need to launch new products, set up new clinical sites, or start commercial distribution, ThermoSafe is trusted to provide a reliable thermal packaging solution,” Gary Morgan, General Manager, Sonoco ThermoSafe Europe stated. “In temperature assurance packaging, working with a global supplier that has a manufacturing global footprint like Sonoco ThermoSafe means the resources and flexibility are in place to meet increased demand through any disruption.” 

Evolving model 

The need for time and temperature supply chain controls has long been established for healthcare shipments. What’s new is the volume of products, and type of products, that require critical logistics handling at every step in the supply chain, especially at the lower temperature ranges. 

“It’s interesting to see the choice of transport mode changing. The move from air to ocean started years ago seeking cost-controls, however during the pandemic, air saved the day by getting vaccines to the world quickly,” Gary Morgan said.  

The post-pandemic supply chain disruptions also drove modal decisions. As the markets have balanced out, there is a definite shifting back to ocean when possible, to reap not only costs savings, but with a view on sustainability gains as well. 

The other shift is in personalised medicines for both finished product and clinical trials. Direct-to-patient shipments are driving more parcel or small packaging.   

READ: Sonoco ThermoSafe stirs up pharma airfreight

Partnerships support pharma shipments 

Sonoco ThermoSafe works with pharmaceutical shippers, forwarders and with global airlines to ship time and temperature sensitive healthcare airfreight around the world. The Pegasus ULD is a new class of airfreight that combines a ULD with passive cooling technology.  

Previously, all passive containers required additional nets, straps or pallet sheets. That’s why Sonoco ThermoSafe set out to innovate and create the safest and most user-friendly Temperature Control Container (TCC) solution available, to reduce the risks and ensure valuable pharmaceutical products arrive in perfect condition. 

As an Advanced Passive container, it uses Phase Change Materials (PCM) the same as the coolants that some passive packaging do, but as a ULD ground handling operations are drastically simplified. The Pegasus ULD fits payload 1 US or 1 EU pallet and maintains the temperature range of 2-8°C for 13+ days.  

The Pegasus ULD is approved to fly on Air Canada Cargo, American Airlines Cargo, Asiana Cargo, Cargolux, Cathay Cargo, Delta Cargo, Emirates SkyCargo, Korean Air Cargo, LATAM Cargo, Qatar Airways Cargo, Saudia Cargo, Singapore Airlines Cargo, Swiss World Cargo, Turkish Cargo and United Cargo. 

“With the combined high performance, streamlined airline and forwarder operations as a ULD and cost-effectiveness of passive solution the Pegasus ULD is a unique TCC that ensures pharmaceutical shipments arrive in-temperature and in-specification. Together with partners we are delighted to support pharmaceutical shipments into the APAC region and around the world”, says Federico Lupp, Director of Business Development – EMEA & APAC for Sonoco ThermoSafe’s Bulk Rental Group.  

Digitialisation and managing disruption 

Pulling in shipment visibility, temperature and other data points is vastly critical to proving quality control of medicinal products and safe delivery of your high-value products, while at the same time cutting lost revenue due to spoiled products.  

From a sustainability perspective, real-time shipment tracking data is being used to minimise spoilage and avoid thermal packaging ending up in a landfill.  

“We are often discussing with customers how avoiding spoilage is critical, but sometimes this leads to over-engineering and ultimately more packaging, that isn’t necessarily needed,” Vivian Berni, Director of Product Management at Sonoco ThermoSafe said. “It’s important to evaluate risk management data to find the balance between product protection, sustainability, and costs.” 

The information provided through digitalisation plays into Sonocco’s method for managing disruption – communication, collaboration and contingency. 

No one partner can get a product from A to B by themselves. They rely on data systems and automation to give real-time visibility of a shipment, but when something goes wrong, strong partnerships and understanding of processes can help rectify a situation more quickly.  

“For example, if there is a weather delay in Doha, the forwarder and airline are executing against contingency plans to determine next steps. The pharma shipper can rely on the Pegasus ULD telemetry data to be assured their product is within temperature range and know of their shipment’s next movements,” Vivian Berni highlighted. 

READ: Swiss WorldCargo and Sonoco ThermoSafe announce global master lease agreement

Areas of opportunity 

Recently, Sonoco ThermoSafe customers are shipping airfreight into the Asia Pacific region more frequently. This has been powered by the increasing number of clinical trials and life science shipments in the growing pharmaceutical region.   

“With the long distance between APAC, Europe and the Americas, airfreight is a necessary mode of transport that often requires TCCs,” Federico Lupp explained. “The Pegasus ULD is doing a great job in fulfilling these needs, especially with the 300+ tested performance on using this container.” 

Integrated onboard telemetry on the Pegasus ULD provides real time data points on location, internal and external temperature, light, tilt, pressure, and impact. This real-time information allows for quicker decision-making. Pooling the information together could help avoid a transit location with a security issue or change lanes that may be risking compliance.  

Picture of Edward Hardy

Edward Hardy

Having become a journalist after university, Edward Hardy has been a reporter and editor at some of the world's leading publications and news sites. In 2022, he became Air Cargo Week's Editor. Got news to share? Contact me on Edward.Hardy@AirCargoWeek.com

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