Temperature Controlled Packaging

The Complete Guide to Monitoring Temperature for Life Science

6 mins

The delivery of temperature sensitive products – particularly vaccines – can be extremely challenging, as it’s essential that they are stored and transported within a specific temperature range.

A recent study found that over 30% of global pharmaceutical and life science deliveries are spoilt or damaged before reaching their final destination. This is most likely due to the cold chain management process not being effective enough. Establishment of a strict cold chain is essential for storage, transportation, as well as overall management of any product needing to be temperature-controlled.

Within this complete guide, we will help you to ensure your temperature-sensitive products remain protected by exploring the ways you can monitor temperature in life science.

What is the cold chain?

Before we get started, it’s important that we clarify what the cold chain is.

A cold chain is a low temperature-controlled supply chain network for the effective handling of temperature-sensitive products. It involves an unbroken series of refrigerated processes for perishable items and covers production, storage, transport, and distribution. The cold chain objective is to ensure products are able to retain the desired qualities when they reach the end user.

When it comes to cold chains for vaccines, they need to be stored within a specific temperature range – the temperature requirement for some vaccines can be as low as -80°C. This means the cold chain starts from the time of manufacturing, through delivery and storage, to when the vaccine is administered to the patient.

What are the most common risks for life science in cold chain management?

Cold chain businesses such as Life Science face many risks when it comes to protecting their temperature-sensitive goods. Just one single incident of unfavourable temperature conditions is enough to damage a whole inventory of perishable products. Some of the most common risks include:

  • Refrigerator or freezer breakdown: The most common cause for this being power interruptions, as cooling systems will fail when there is a blackout. The damage may also be severe when a power interruption occurs in a refrigerated truck with only one electricity source.
  • Human error: Insufficient training, improper use of equipment, poor packaging, or even being in too much of a rush to pack effectively, can all be a risk. It can lead to the tearing of packages and exposing of goods to environmental temperatures.
  • Shipment theft: Theft can have severe implications in cold chains. It brings losses to business owners and can pose a danger to the end user. Another risk is that the thief may not have the infrastructure needed to maintain temperatures for the stolen product, so if the product reaches the consumer long after leaving the cold chain, they may be ineffective and even life-threatening.
  • Varying standards and infrastructure: Issues in global supply chains include the lack of intermediate temperature-controlled storage facilities, uneven cooling in warehouses, and limited cooling options. These can all lead to further difficulties in ensuring a product is protected.

Risks like those listed above can not only be costly and disruptive, but also dangerous for whomever the medication is for. This is why it’s so important to make sure that the product stays within the temperature-range needed.

But when a product leaves the manufacturer, there is a loss of visibility and control over its safety and efficacy. 3 in 5 physicians surveyed said they were “very concerned” that cold chain breaches will compromise the efficacy of the drugs they prescribe. Harris Interactive survey also found that 83% of primary care doctors reported experiencing a cold chain break. So how can you monitor the temperature of the product and make certain it remains safe from these risks? The answer is below.

Why use temperature indicators on packaging?

Using temperature indicators and monitors on packaging is essential when shipping temperature sensitive products. By using these systems, you will be able to track, control, and regulate the temperature of any product during its storage and transportation. Not only that, but indicators and monitors feature tamper evident designs that provide definitive proof of temperature fluctuations if they occur.

What are the benefits of temperature indicators?

There are many benefits that come with implementing devices to your packaging that monitor temperature. Some of these are as follows:

  • Quality control: by having temperature indicators and monitors, you will avoid the critical situation where a temperature damaged product is unknowingly delivered to a patient. This is because temperature indicators clearly show when a product has been exposed to unacceptable temperatures.
  • Cost Savings: WHO estimates that the use of temperature indicators could reduce wastage rates by up to 30%! This is because with temperature indicators providing the evidence you need; good products will no longer be discarded and need replacing.
  • Easy decision making: Users can quickly tell which products are safe to use.
  • Less waste: In certain cold chain a data logger is used – these are placed in the container but if it goes outside of the allowed temperature range, it is difficult to identify which of the pallets have experienced the damage. With a cost-effective temperature monitoring label, you can have this data per pallet or even per box. Meaning that you can identify the exact amount that has been damaged.

Temperature monitors are vital to optimise production, quality control, and detect any issues within the supply chain. Life science companies that place monitors on their packaging will experience greater efficiency and productivity gains, whilst ensuring that their customers remain safe.

temperature monitoring

What products can be used to monitor temperature?

At Swiftpak, we recently expanded our temperature-control tilt and monitoring range that will instantly identify out-of-tolerance temperature conditions whilst being accurate and affordable. They are designed to reduce reship and replacement rates by up to 30-50%! The products we recommend that can be used to monitor temperature are:

  • WarmMark: a single-use temperature indicator that notifies handlers about adverse temperatures. WarmMark has a temperature accuracy of ±2°F and is suitable for many cold chain monitoring applications including test specimens, medicine, vaccines and more. If the package gets too warm, the indicator will tell you and or how long this took place.
  • FreezeSafe: descending, single-use temperature indicator that provides accurate, irreversible evidence if a product has experienced unacceptably low temperatures. The indicator will turn from white to magenta if the temperature goes below a predetermined threshold of 0°C / 32°F or 2°C / 36°F. It’s cost-effective and provides clear evidence if the cold chain has been maintained.
  • ColdMark: a single use descending temperature indicator designed to help shippers identify gaps in the cold chain. ColdMark will turn from clear to violet when the temperature drops below a predetermined threshold.
  • FCP Descending Temperature Indicator: provides a clear visual indication with an irreversible colour change from green to red if products have been exposed to descending temperatures. These indicators are designed for easy adherence to any product and are environmentally safe with no toxic chemicals.

Monitoring temperature for Life Science with Swiftpak

Blood, medicine, and vaccines are susceptible to temperature damage in the cold chain. With an increasing growth in the number of temperature-controlled healthcare products being shipped, it’s never been more important for pharmacies, hospitals, and laboratories to monitor their shipments.

If you are looking for a reliable temperature monitoring solution for your products in transit, get in contact with our packaging experts today who are always happy to help.