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LAGGA MARMA, SWEDENWhat do pharmaceuticals and semiconductor equipment have in common? Each of these products is susceptible to fluctuations in temperature when transported. Too cold can be as dangerous as too hot; either one can result in damaged or destroyed goods that have been painstakingly produced in a clean environment.
Temperature management system developer Envirotainer says that its new shipping container's closed-loop system offers an unbroken “cool chain” that can maintain a stable temperature for up to 72 hours, even when temperatures within a cargo hold can fluctuate between 5 degrees C to 32 degrees C during a six-hour flight.
Temperature-sensitive goods are placed inside a container with blocks of dry ice positioned in a separate bunker. A sensor constantly monitors the ambient temperature inside of the container. If the temperature rises above a pre-set rate, the sensor will activate a fan, circulating the air around the dry ice bunker, distributing it back into the container to maintain the desired temperature.
According to Martin Lindkvist, director of global marketing at Envirotainer, this new technology is efficient and globally practical. “It's a very economic solution,” says Lindkvist. “Dry ice and batteries are available virtually everywhere. It does not matter if you are in Guyana, Paris or New York.”
Envirotainer's leased units consist of LD-3, a 4.8-cubic-meter unit with 3.1 cubic meters of internal storage space, and LD-9, an 11.2-cubic-meter unit with 8.3 cubic meters of storage. Each is designed for use with a variety of aircraft. The company's engineering arm also works closely with individual customers to create tailored approaches using Envirotainer.
According to Lindkvist, a 20-foot unit was specially engineered for ASM Lithography to transport sensitive semiconductor manufacturing equipmentthis unit also included a humidity control feature.
A program with the German air carrier Lufthansa was recently formed which included the development of a 400-liter container designed specifically for the shipment of pharmaceuticals. Last June, the company penned a similar agreement with Alitalia Cargo to ship temperature-sensitive products to and from destinations within Italy.
The company says it is in the process of developing a global infrastructure to provide real-time Internet-based logistics, booking and tracking. Clients will be able to monitor the location, temperature and even the humidity of a container while it is in transit.