Innovative Packaging Materials for Efficient Cold Chain Management

  • Cold chain is a system of logistics that involves a race against time and effective temperature control management. This is because many products in the cold chain system such as vaccines and some medicines, are perishables that are highly sensitive to temperature fluctuations. Even the slightest deviation from the recommended temperature range may affect the product quality and safety of consumers.

  • Three technologies for packaging materials that can accommodate the requirement of the cold chain management that are noteworthy and are continually being developed include cotton insulation, vacuum insulated panels (VIP), and aerogel.

3 November, 2023
Although transportation processes have been developed to become more efficient over the years through advanced software and data science applications, many enterprises are still looking to develop packaging technology that can improve the system further, especially packaging designed for extremely sensitive cold chain products.

Currently, it is widely accepted that such developments are likely to improve the efficiency of applications. For example, cotton insulation which have been engineered with sustainability and renewability in mind, are derived from natural resources. One of the most innovative solutions is 'recycled cotton insulation' because cotton is one of the most used textile fibers in the world and most of it can be recycled through specific processing techniques. This insulation provides excellent shockproof and heat protection properties for sensitive products such as those transported via cold chain. More importantly, it is also naturally biodegradable and support the quest for sustainable solution.

Additionally, recent advances in insulation technology have introduced new options with increased efficiency and effectiveness. One such example is the revolutionary material introduced in the cold chain system, Vacuum Insulation Panel (VIP), which has become a game changer because it can achieve superior cooling efficiency. These panels use a vacuum sealed core which reduces heat transfer by creating a vacuum inside the panel that dramatically reduce thermal conductivity. As a result, VIP has excellent insulating abilities that outperform traditional materials.

When compared to the same cooling source, VIP provides 7 to 10 days of free energy, or 2 to 3 times that of classic insulating materials. Therefore, VIP is ideal for long-distance transportation especially in very warm weather. It reduces the thickness of insulation layer, reduces overall packaging size and even reduces packaging weight. VIP is especially useful in situations where space is limited or serious cargo weight reduction is required.

Another interesting example is aerogel, an extremely lightweight porous material that is considered the least dense solid in the world. With a remarkable combination of low density and high insulating properties, aerogel has become an exciting option in the world of insulating materials. Due to a highly porous structure consisting of interconnected nanoparticles, aerogel has very low thermal conductivity. This makes it suitable for applications that require high performance insulation since it minimizes temperature fluctuations during cold chain transport. An example of this innovation is Cryar Aerogel Board, a low-cost aerogel product which is eco-friendly and can be adjusted to fit any package size. It is a great solution for transporting medicines and vaccines which is developed by KrossLinker, a Singapore startup that specializes in advanced materials that focus on energy efficiency.

These technologies and innovations are vital in cold chain logistics, making it possible to overcome many limitations in transportation. Cold chain logistics operators in Thailand should optimize these innovations to keep up with the growing trend of the food, pharmaceutical and medical supplies because it will help improve the storage and transportation process. It will also allow entrepreneurs to deliver quality products to consumers, add value to products, reduce losses, and demonstrate the commitment to social and environmental responsibility which is part of sustainable business practices.

According to TechSci Research's report on "Thailand Cold Chain Transportation Market by Region, Competition, Forecast and Opportunity 2028", it is forecast that the cold chain industry will strengthen. The market will be driven by several factors, such as increased fruit exports to China, the recovery of seafood exports following the European Union’s removal of the yellow card status from Thailand’s fishing sector in 2019, and the rapid increase in the number of convenience stores and chain restaurants, among other factors.

For those interested in the latest news, movements and innovations in logistics, please stay tuned to the future editions of TILOG – LOGISTIX blog. The RX Tradex team would also like to take this opportunity to thanks everyone who participated in TILOG – LOGISTIX 2023 which has raised the level of smart logistics towards more sustainability. Please mark your calendar so we will meet again at TILOG – LOGISTIX 2024 between 15-17 August 2024 at BITEC, Bangkok to further empower the future of Thailand’s logistics industry.


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