Over 90% of new FDA-approved pharmaceutical products are sensitive to fluctuating temperatures, which can be an issue during air freight. A new generation of passive cargo covers could be the solution, as DuPont explains.
It is widely accepted that a major disadvantage of air freight in the pharmaceuticals cool chain is exposure to solar radiation during ground handling. This recognition has gained significance since the European GDP was extended to cover finished products that require continuously controlled room temperature (CRT) freight conditions. During tarmac standing time –when cargo is loaded, unloaded and transferred – shipments of heat-sensitive goods can be left on ramps, or aprons, under direct solar radiation, or in other severe conditions. According to IATA, 57% of temperature excursions occur during these ‘uncontrolled’ air-cargo stages of the distribution process.
There are also a number of blackspots and bottlenecks along the Pharma distribution chain where shipments can be affected by unforeseen temperature events. However, any protective system that can close the ‘tarmac gap’ will go a long way towards addressing these other vulnerable points.
With nearly nine out of ten Pharma companies manufacturing products in the CRT category, solar-induced temperature excursions is a significant problem. An industry survey revealed that cost-effective temperature control was the single biggest challenge facing firms in the cool chain. This led to attention focusing on new-generation temperature management covers that can help maintain the thermal stability necessary to ensure legal compliance. For most CRT products, this calls for a cost-effective passive cover that is easy to use and readily available.
Triple action for multi-threat protection
DuPont’s Tyvek® range of lightweight air cargo covers are made from breathable, non-woven fabric, and have been engineered specifically to address temperature weak points in the CRT Pharma cool chain.
Yves le Minor manages the air cargo cover brand in Southern Europe. “Tyvek air cargo covers have been designed to address the biggest gap in CRT temperature management.” he says. “This is the gap relating to the temperature excursions that can occur during apron handling operations, when the cold chain is temporarily broken. Solar-gain effects can be surprisingly intense, and easily result in the temperature of exposed pallets soaring to dangerous levels.”
The covers address the adverse heat flow mechanisms at work in the fluctuating air temperature scenarios typically found in air cargo logistics. Made from low-conductivity material, they operate through a combination of three complementary mechanisms: a white micro-fibre exterior surface provides a highly reflective barrier to external solar gain, a metalled inner surface presents a ‘low-e’ emissivity barrier to help maintain core package temperatures and the material’s inherent vapour permeability controls harmful condensation. The result is a unique, state-of-the- art protective envelope.
This superior performance is in stark contrast to some other products commonly used for Pharma temperature control. “Some cover materials tested by DuPont serve to dramatically increase the effect of solar and other temperature gains, often to unexpectedly dangerous levels,” explains le Minor. “These must be avoided at all costs.”
A micro-porous composition is a key feature. “Tyvek’s breathability helps to ensure that under-cover humidity levels cannot reach levels that might damage labels or packaging,” says le Minor. “This moisture-evacuating property further ensures temperature stability during transport and is of further importance where goods must be protected from freezing, since the presence of excess moisture can exacerbate cooling effects.”
Superior temperature control properties are not the only dividends from using Tyvek® air cargo covers. They are strong, tear- resistant, flame retardant, lightweight and very fast to fit. They are weatherproof and offer a highly effective barrier against air-borne contamination such as dust, sand, pollen and bird droppings.
The opaque, white covers also shield cargo from view and the smooth, one-piece design make any tampering obvious. Tyvek® covers also exhibit favourable cooling properties compared with thermal blankets, which is a valuable time-saver when products must be pre-cooled, or need to cool down after extensive exposure. Added to this ease of use comes strong technical support. With its international presence, DuPont™ provides global field back-up to specifiers, users, regulatory authorities and consultants.
How they work
Tyvek® Air Cargo Covers work by addressing the adverse heat flow mechanisms that are found in the unpredictable air temperature scenarios typically found in air cargo logistics. Made from low conductivity Tyvek® fabric, the covers operate through a combination of three complementary operating mechanisms: the white micro-fibre exterior surface of the covers provides a highly reflective barrier to external solar gain, the metallised inner surface presents a ‘low-e’ radiant barrier to help maintain core package temperatures and the material’s inherent vapour permeability controls harmful condensation. The result is a unique, state-of-the-art protective envelope.
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