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Pharmaceutical Manufacturing and Packing Sourcer

Retro Appeal

In my opinion there are few things better than listening to jazz records played on a turntable.However, there are not many places at home where I am allowed to keep such a mammoth setup in its entirety.This doesn’t stop me though, and I invariably find a corner in what is known in my house as my ‘man cave’, and manage to squeeze it in between all of my other hobbies.

I can quite easily spend a day enjoying the ceremony that is cleaning each record, slowly lowering each one onto the turntable and gently placing the needle, before sitting back on a chair that has, in my wife’s opinion, far outstayed its welcome, due to its torn seams and worn arms. But, here in my cave, just like all the other relics of the past, the turntable finds refuge.

For all the enjoyment, nostalgia, and what I will always try to convince others is a far better sound quality, I also love the scale and simplicity of my MP3 player and, if pressed, I will even tell you it sounds good.However, I really believe much of this comes from designers taking a look back and merging some of the techniques of the past with the devices of the present. In doing so, they often manage to create something original that offers significant and new benefits. I for one ran out to buy the valve-amplified iPod docking station – but still stare like a confused moth every time it is switched on.

When developing a temperaturecontrolled packaging system, small and simple are also desirable features. Not only do these attributes make the handling, and often risky packing process, an easier and safer task, they have the extra benefit of reducing those everincreasing freight costs.

Some of the more recent developments in our industry have tilted the scales in favour of a larger product to total packaging size ratio, while also offering a far simpler packaging process.The more successful and, in my opinion, better-working technologies have also managed to merge together new and old materials and processes to create elegant solutions.

My reason for leaning towards these types of solution is not borne out of nostalgia but comes more from an understanding that, as well as performance,we also need to balance a number of other factors that affect our world of thermal control. Factors such as supply capability, cost, mechanical integrity, environmental impact, re-usability and the risk of malfunction all need consideration, and there are many others besides.

If we are constantly looking too far ahead, there is a chance that we may miss obvious advances. Recently, I have been seeing some great solutions that use more sophisticated phase change materials contained within. These, combined with some classic components, create small parcel solutions that can maintain their performance for long durations without breaking the bank. In addition, I am seeing insulating materials that five years ago would have been dismissed now being used increasingly in new and more acceptable formats.

The advantage of this type of approach is that these developments are not limited or restricted.Their hybrid design means that aspects such as cost and quality can be controlled a little bit better, and the addition of more classic materials and processes ensures that these solutions can quickly be manufactured locally rather than shipped around the world.

I will end by saying that I am not suggesting that we stop reaching for the stars. I look forward to the day that each pharmaceutical cold storage comes with its very own Scotty, ready to beam its contents safely and instantly into the doctor’s hands. I am simply suggesting that we have a great deal more we can do with the technologies of yesterday and today.We are still just scratching the surface.


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Richard Harrop is a qualified structural packaging design engineer, coming previously from the FMCG sector. He has been involved in the temperature-controlled packaging industry for almost 10 years. During this time he has developed and implemented several successful temperaturecontrolled solutions for many of the world’s leading pharmaceutical and biotech corporations. Email: rcharrop@googlemail.com
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