Many industries require different types of cold chain packaging solutions for heat-sensitive products. There are three technologies that are often utilized:
Active, or dynamic: this packaging solution requires an external power source (electric plug or battery) during use to ensure constant temperatures within the shipping container for the payload. The active solution regulates the temperature but does not offer autonomy because it relies on the availability of electricity. The active solution is typically utilized to transport a large quantity of high value products (e.g. full container) between manufacturing facilities or to large distribution locations in a single logistical step with a refrigerated truck. There must be enough high value product to optimize the cost of using a refrigerated vehicle and this type of packaging solution.
Semi-active, or semi-dynamic: the cold source for this packaging solution are static refrigerants (foam bricks, gel packs or eutectic plates) placed in an isolated compartment. The heat exchange between the payload and the cold source is regulated by a temperature regulation system functioning without an electrical power source, which offers autonomy. This packaging solution can be reused more than 100 times but it requires a robust return and refurbishment program. This system often requires high value product, but not a large quantity, to optimize cost effectiveness.
Passive, or static: this packaging solution is lined with static refrigerants (foam bricks, gel packs or eutectic plates) which represents the energy source. Combined with an insulating material, they create a microclimate with the required temperature range. The passive solution offers autonomy but does not regulate the temperature. It is the least expensive and most used solution for Cold Chain Management. The cost of transportation depends on the volume and weight of the container as well as the materials used to manufacture the system. The passive or static solutions do not require an electrical power source: the walls of the packaging are insulated, and the PCM or water-based refrigerants are used to help keep the temperature within the required range. The thickness of the insulating material and the quantity of refrigerants depend on the storage period (autonomy) and the temperature profile. The material used in these refrigerants is chosen according to its melting point, which must be adapted to the storage range. For the qualification of these materials, the worst-case temperature and time scenario is envisaged which guarantees reliability and autonomy of the static packaging solutions. This insulated packaging solution is particularly well adapted to all needs and profiles, including fragile transportation for clinical trials. It is often the least expensive solution.
Smithers Oasis Engineered Products’ phenolic bricks are utilized by many cold chain packaging solutions providers because our semi-rigid foam bricks never change shape during freezing, thawing or transit. Most bricks are vacuum sealed for consistent weight and shape. They are available in a variety of in-stock sizes and weight, and work with water, salt water or PCM liquids.