Cold-chain service providers realign, expand

DuPont/Cold Chain Technologies in thermal blankets; va-Q-tec in shipment tracking; big bucks for SkyCell


In the steadily growing field of cold chain services to biopharma, three recent actions are worth noting:

DuPont, owners of the Tyvek brand of nonwoven, polymeric sheeting, are handing off the Tyvek Cargo Covers to Cold Chain Technologies, Inc., under undisclosed terms. After July 15, CCT will be the exclusive global producer, seller, distributor and service provider for the thermal blanketing technology.

Thermal covers (or blankets) have had an interesting, fairly rapid evolution in life sciences transportation: they started as thermal and sunlight protection (especially for cargo pallets sitting on airport runways prior to loading) and soon became multilayer, insulated blankets with metallized, bubble-wrap or fiber layers. CCT innovated a system (KoolTemp Enshield) that incorporates phase-change material packets into the blankets a few years ago (essentially, taking the PCM packet from inside an insulated parcel, and putting it outside); now there is talk in the industry of forgoing any insulation with shipping containers, and depending only on thermal blanketing.

Meanwhile, va-Q-tec, a Würzburg, Germany producer of parcel- to pallet-size temperature-controlled containers, has announced the integration of a global network of service centers, communication-enabled dataloggers and a cloud-based, blockchain-structured tracking system, va-Q-nection. Customers will be able to rent a preconditioned container, track its movement (and both internal and external temperature conditions) and log its return. Blockchain, featuring decentralized data storage, is said to provide enhanced data security.

Finally, SkyCell, the Swiss developer of temperature-controlled air cargo containers, has announced a $62-million funding round, drawing investments from several Swiss investment organizations. “We are delighted to have raised this growth funding as we look to extend our operations further into the US and Asia,” said Richard Ettl, CEO and co-founder. The company’s news release says that its containers are now used by eight of the top 20 pharma companies, and tripled Q1-over-Q1 sales in the past year.