Reefer containers in pharma sector

Posted by Rahul Shukla on February 17th, 2018

Today, reefer containers for pharmaceuticals are a common-choice amongst clients just like other perishables like milk and fruits &vegetable. Growth in pharmaceutical industry and a gradual shift in transportation mode from insulated to reefer containers for medicines and pharmaceutical products have been steadily driving the transport reefer industry. Despite India being world’s largest producer of milk and second largest producer of fruits and vegetables, about 40 to 50 per cent of the total production valued of 0 bn (billion) ends up wasted, noted the reputed Indian study in 2017. Consistent profitability at all levels of the supply chain in the pharmaceutical sector, due to a seamless and efficient cold chain, drives investment in the truck reefer industry. These systems empower our customers to remotely monitor and control the refrigeration units, and help them track their consignments with a strict watch over temperature integrity. It also goes on to point out that cold chain market in India valued at 7.24 bn in 2016 is projected to reach 4.49 bn by 2020.

The demand for reefer containers for pharmaceuticals is primarily met by 3pL rental operators.. Usual clients favor to take devices on rental as opposed to purchase because rental permits them to leave the entire duty of maintenance on the cold storage container rental business providing the devices.

One of the key findings of the final report of the “Pharma Sea Freight Working Group”, released in December 2016, was that the availability of reefers and other equipment and infrastructure was a challenge that needed to be addressed, especially in the emerging markets that are the fastest-growing purchasers of pharmaceuticals and healthcare products.) But, like any industry, costs are also of the essence, leading pharmaceutical and healthcare shippers to explore cheaper ocean shipping options as well. Markets in Asia, Latin America, the Middle East, and China are becoming more attractive to pharmaceuticals companies but these same markets are considered the most challenging in terms of supply chain management and the kinds of challenges identified in the Pharma Sea Freight Working Group.

Usual Reefer fleet consists of 20’, 40’High Cube and 45’32/33 Pallet Wide containers allowing the transport of goods at temperatures ranging from -35°C to +35°C.

Mostly firms possess 45’ Pallet Wide and 33 Euro Pallet Wide Reefer Containers adapted to multi-modal transportation, allowing a largest number of pallets to be loaded. In order to remove the unwanted gas and moisture generated by respiration (which can affect quality of the products), fresh air can be exchanged at the rate of 0 to 260 m3/hour, depending on the requirements and the kind of Reefer used.

Shipping lines and container manufacturers advise that container performance is consistent throughout the lifespan but pharmaceutical manufacturers have generally found that using containers less than 5 years old is a good benchmark as these have been shown to be more reliable. +15°C to +25°C with a set point of 20°C; communicate the value of the product and arrange the indemnity if required; don’t forget that you also have to verify the weight of the laden container.

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