More companies enter the cold-chain distribution arena

Pharmaceutical CommercePharmaceutical Commerce - July/August 2010

Continuing growth attracts more players; meanwhile, Sensitech acquires FreightWatch International to beef up real-time monitoring

One specialized sector of the pharmaceutical distribution business—cold chain packaging and transportation—continues to draw new competitors, and new products and services from existing vendors. The latest entrant is Pelican Products (Torrance, CA), which is a major player in the “protective cases” category, such as transportation containers for electronics, aerospace parts and first-responder equipment. The company has opened a BioPharma Div., and is bringing a family of reusable plastic cases with gel-pack refrigeration. The first two cases have capacities of 3.15 and 56.79 liters; other sizes will be forthcoming. Maintenance of the 2-8°C temperature range is said to be 120-140 hours. Pelican Products already has an international network of manufacturing and supply sites, so it will be able to offer both a leased service (where the cases make round trips by carriers) and a one-way rental service (where the case is used and then returned to Pelican), according to Lyndon Faulkner, CEO.

Pointing at foamed-plastic coolers frequently used for cold chain shipments, Faulkner says “The surprisingly sub-standard packaging solutions available to customers relying on the global cold chain are unacceptable. We brought the full weight of Pelican science and engineering to create these new transport cases so that temperature sensitive materials, such as critical vaccines and other pharmaceutical materials, will safely and sustainably be accessible around the world.”

Another company, Shockwatch (Dallas), has had an existing business in transportation-related sensors (tilt, impact, temperature) that is now being expanded with a new type of single-use, low-cost temperature indicator, branded as WarmMark2 and ColdMark2. The chemical-based indicators are able to indicate specific temperature highs and lows, as well as the duration of a temperature excursion, according to Kevin Kohleriter, VP marketing. Additionally, the indicators are “field armable,” meaning that they can be shipped without temperature control themselves, then activated on demand to begin the temperature sensing. The technology was invented by UK-based TimeStrip UK Ltd.

Meanwhile, two companies well known in pharmaceutical distribution, Sensitech Inc. (Beverly, MA) and FreightWatch International (Austin, TX) are being brought together by Sensitech’s corporate parent, Carrier Corp. (itself a subsidiary of United Technologies). According to press reports, FreightWatch will operate as a subsidiary of Sensitech, which manufactures temperature sensors and monitoring equipment for food, pharmaceutical and other temperature-sensitive shipping needs. FreightWatch operates high-tech control centers in five locations in the US, Europe, Mexico and South America, providing real-time monitoring of in-transit shipments, as well as cargo security consulting services.

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