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Cold Chain Packaging: An Exploration of the Industry

According to Cold Chain Technologies, a cold chain product can be defined as any temperature sensitive product, such as frozen foods, research samples, or pharmaceuticals. Cold chain products tend to be of higher value than other shipped goods, so losing a product to its temperature getting too high can cost a company up to millions of dollars. Suppliers around the world need a solution to keeping these products at the right temperature. Therefore, cold chain packaging, or temperature-controlled packaging, is vital for maintaining the thermal integrity of temperature sensitive products during transport.

Cold chain packaging can use active or passive packaging methods. Active packaging configurations are usually leased containers that employ a power source, batteries or electricity, and a thermostat to control heating or cooling within the shipping container (Healthcare Packaging, 2009; Moreno, 2015). Passive packaging configurations are manufactured containers that utilize insulated packaging design – polystyrene, polyurethane, or vacuum insulated panels and phase change materials (PCM) to maintain a desired temperature inside the shipping container. Both active and passive systems have proven to be effective in maintaining proper temperatures for shipments. However, while both are effective, Moreno points out that active shipping configurations are considered to be more secure, use more energy, and tend to be more expensive. Because of this, there has been a shift towards cold chain packaging customers using more passive shipping methods. Passive shipping methods offer the advantage of ownership, reuse, easy pack out and preconditioned PCM, and flexibility in payload volumes and freight efficiencies.

While people look at the cost differences and convenience associated with cold chain packaging, product protection is most important above all else. With the help of many organizations, such as the CDC and ISTA, there has been a regulation of quality assurance and health and safety standards. While these organizations have laid out these standards, it is the responsibility of product manufacturers to ensure that shippers comply with global safety regulations. With the rapid growth of cold chain packaging, people have expressed concerns about proper shipment monitoring and compliance with safety regulations.

Moreno has identified a series of basic shipping issues that have the potential to forecast long-range growth. For these issues, he has offered four actionable guidelines for lean shipping. These checklists are for shipping profiles, temperature, product volume, and transit times.


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Lawler, K. (2015, August 25). Three Primary Cold Chain Packaging Pain Points and Priorities. Retrieved July 24, 2016, from

Lawler, K. (2016, February 2). Three Life Science Cold Chain Trends to Watch in 2016. Retrieved from

Moreno, T. (2015, January 5). How to get Cold Chain Shipping right: Setting the scene for best value (1/3). Retrieved July 24, 2016, from

Moreno, T. (2015, January 26). How to get Cold Chain Shipping right: Active and Passive shipping solutions (2/3). Retrieved July 24, 2016, from

Moreno, T. (2015, April 15). How to get Cold Chain Shipping right: The Case Study (3/3). Retrieved from:

Image Sources: Moreno, T. (2015, January 5) and Moreno, T. (2015, January 26)

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