Photo: Envirotainer
Envirotainer 20container Rap E2

Thermo King, Envirotainer ready to assist COVID-19 vaccine shippers

Nov. 18, 2020
Cold chain specialists tout ability to offer secure temperature-controlled air transportation for critical vaccine shipments.

Thermo King and Envirotainer, which specializes in active cold chain solutions for air transport of pharmaceuticals, say they’re ready to meet the increasing shipping needs of the health care and aviation industries.

The two companies worked together in 2005 to develop and produce the first active heating and cooling air cargo container validated by aviation authorities, helping to set “a new standard in transporting pharmaceutical and other temperature-sensitive products by air.”

Now, the companies say, they’ve recognized the critical need for reliable temperature-controlled airfreight solutions for transporting COVID-19 vaccines, and they’re ready to respond.

“When a vaccine is ready, the challenge for the pharmaceutical market will be getting it to the patient as fast as possible by maintaining the integrity of the cold chain,” said Francesco Incalza, president of Thermo King EMEA. “Our intelligent solutions can help address logistics complexities by maintaining temperature control and tracking the integrity of vaccine shipments at all points along the journey, including during air transport. We are ready to meet the needs for the mass global distribution of the expected temperature-sensitive vaccine.”

Envirotainer’s active containers were designed for the exacting requirements of the pharmaceutical industry. The one-pallet RKN e1 container, using Thermo King Air 100 refrigeration system, and larger RAP e2 container, using Thermo King Air 200 refrigeration system, maintain product temperatures in the +2 to +8 Celsius range, controlled room temperature (+15 to +25 Celsius) range or at any chosen set temperature between ±0 and +25 Celsius in nearly any ambient condition.

Unlike passive containers, the active solutions operate on batteries in-flight, and on the ground, through an electrical connection that maintains the air-cargo container’s inside temperature while charging the batteries. Since their inception, Envirotainer active containers have performed “hundreds of thousands” of real-life pharmaceutical shipments, the company said.

The RAP e2 is the most environmentally friendly temperature-controlled air cargo container available in the market. Delivering pharmaceuticals using the RAP e2 emits 0.9kg CO2e per vial shipped. This can be compared to, for example, a smaller passive solution’s 11.6kg CO2e per vial shipped.

Both RKN e1 using Air 100 refrigeration unit and RAP e2 using Air 200 refrigeration unit are fully certified by both European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and Federal Aviation Agency (FAA), and are qualified as Good Distribution Practice (“GDP”) compliant for pharmaceutical transport and storage.

“Once vaccines become available, we know they will require temperature-controlled air freight and a global distribution in very large quantities,” said Michael Berg, CEO at Envirotainer. “Our long-lasting partnership with Thermo King has led us to setting new standards in the industry. We have by far the largest container fleet and network in the industry, and we are ready to support fast and secure delivery of COVID-19 vaccines to the people that need them, wherever they are in the world.”

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