World Courier, a leader in clinical trial logistics, has long been employing either client-approved packaging for thermally controlled shipments, or prequalifying containers it buys or leases from the many vendors of such equipment. Now, perhaps in light of the growing business in high-volume, high-value shipments, it has developed its own pallet-size container, branded as the Cocoon. And while it is not getting into the container construction business (outsourcing this to unnamed suppliers), it is also not getting into the container sales business: only World Courier customers will have access to the units.
The Cocoon (see photo) features a metal outer shell, vacuum-insulated panels with a honeycomb structure, and cooling provided by phase-change materials (and thus is a passive-type container not using external power). The unit can be specified for frozen (-15 to -25°C), refrigerated (2-8°C) or CRT (+15 to +25°C) service, and holds both Euro and US pallet sizes. It is said to be 15-30% lighter than competing containers, and to maintain temperature, depending on ambient conditions, for 40% longer.
In practice, World Courier will establish a fleet of these devices at airports and its depots around the world. The market for temperature-controlled containers that can hold pallets is becoming increasingly competitive; besides the longstanding pioneer, Envirotainer, CSafe has a powered (active) container, va-Q-tec, SkyCell and others have passive designs, and a variety of (passive) carton vendors have extended their product lines to include pallet shippers, while Sonoco ThermoSafe recently acquired the rights to PharmaPort, a “semi-active” container design. The ability to provide a container in the right location at the right time, coupled with the maintenance and service requirements of reusable containers (especially in air freight), makes the business all the more complex.
The Cocoon is one of the first product innovations emanating from World Courier’s Climate Optimisation Research & Engineering (CORE) Labs, set up in Germany last year. “The development of Cocoon, which started as a conversation with our customers and resulted in a collaborative effort to create a novel solution that addresses their needs, is exactly what we envisioned we’d be able to accomplish when we launched CORE Labs,” said Doug Cook, president of Global Specialty Logistics at AmerisourceBergen, World Courier’s parent. “Whether it’s data-backed recommendations or thermal packaging solutions, we’re providing shippers with resources to help them make more informed and cost-efficient decisions across their entire portfolio of specialty logistics needs.”