Brian Kohr, President and CEO CSafe Global

It might sound laborious or difficult to add the ‘return cycle’—but this is not true.  CSafe can reduce delays and costs with fast turnarounds and the packaging is returned ready and qualified for reuse.  With no need to track the packaging and guarantee of supply, REPAQ is the simple program.  The key to success when introducing a reusable packaging service is the education of the end users because, once they understand it, they get behind it.  We work with our customers to educate their clients about the benefits reuse procedures.  This communication prior to the launch of REPAQ ® enables the customer and their client to be involved and committed to the success of the program.


Everyone knows the mantra – reduce, reuse, recycle – but reusing temperature-sensitive packaging has not been the normal practice in the pharmaceutical/life science sectors. However, changes are afoot.

Nadine Siqueland, VP Global Sales for CSafe Global, explains, “Reducing the amount of packaging going to landfill is a priority for corporations and governments and one of the best ways of achieving this is to reuse as much as possible, as often as possible.”

The global market for sustainable packaging is forecast to reach $244 billion by 2018, according to a report by Smithers Pira(1). The same report also found that of 141 top companies that are part of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, those that used sustainable strategies performed better in almost every market segment than their respective counterparts. On average, the sustainable companies returned about 4% higher margins.

However, in the pharmaceutical supply chain, reusing packaging has not been normal practice as packaging degrades with time and transportation conditions and the extent of the degradation (and thus performance) cannot be gauged by eye. This is one of the reasons why CSafe introduced REPAQ®, the first reuse packaging program that thermally re-qualifies packaging prior to reuse. In 2014, customer participation in CSafe’s REPAQ program grew by 47% and the customers are averaging return levels of between 55 and 81% (averaging 74%) with significant savings in both landfill and program costs.

Nadine added “ULDs and expensive thermal cool boxes are widely reused, but many in the cold chain have been wary of reusing other insulated packaging because they could not guarantee its performance more than once. However, based on REPAQ’s historical performance, when packaging is professionally re-qualified to ensure its viability, then it is safe to reuse again and again. Customers in our REPAQ program return the packaging to us, we clean it, inspect it, re-qualify it via thermal testing and return it to the customer ‘as good as new’. The regulators are much more supportive of this model.”

(1) The Future of Sustainable Packaging to 2018


2014 HPCLC Fall Conference

By Brian Kohr, CSafe Global President and CEO

It was another opportunity for great discussions and learnings at the October Health and Personal Care Logistics Conference in Florida.  As in previous post-conference blogs, I recommend that those involved in healthcare company supply chain management should attend.  The conference topics continue to be relevant and the discussions engaging.  The fall conference is moving to Chicago next year and hopefully the new venue will allow for even more registrants to obtain the evermore difficult approval to attend.

The biggest revelation for me at this conference was around the ‘storm’ that is brewing in the supply chain sector.  With the lack of truck drivers and pending legislation affecting their hours; the consolidation and super slow steaming on the ocean; ocean carriers that cater to high-volume shippers instead of providing the special services demanded by the healthcare industry; the full bellies of aircraft; the changes in the dimensional weight calculations; and the overloaded rail system, supply chain costs are going to increase and so are the inventories on company balance sheets.  Some queries emphasizing this were:

  • Who knows someone under 30 who wants to be a truck driver?
  • Who has seen their ocean transit times increase due to super slow steaming as the ocean carriers look to lower their costs to get back to profitability?
  • Who has been on a plane recently that has had plenty of open seats?  Is it the same down in the cargo hold?

As a result of these shifting dynamics, how supply chain professionals must prepare for so many challenges and constant change, especially in the biopharma industry where sometimes lives hang in the balance based upon successful delivery of drugs, I have a better appreciation for cold chain logistics than ever before.

My nephew recently graduated with a degree in supply chain and now works for a manufacturer in Ohio.  I have always been of the opinion that the best way to learn business was to go into public accounting (yes I am biased).  I now believe that supply chain, when it comes to manufacturing specifically, allows for people to obtain a strong understanding of the drivers within a given business be they from the demand side engagement with sales and marketing, the supply side with plant operations, or the transportation and procurement side of the business to understand the external challenges.

CSafe Global is but a small part of the biopharma supply chain, albeit we believe a very important one.  Know that our goal will continue to be to provide products and services that deliver value within your supply chain whether through cost savings, performance improvements or sustainability initiatives.  We will strive to make temperature-controlled shipments the least of your worries so that you can focus on the big picture and that ‘storm’ that was a HPCLC presentation and discussion topic.

CSafe Improves Ability to Increase Cold Supply Chain Efficiency

CSafe Improves Ability to Increase Cold Supply Chain Efficiency

By Brian Kohr, CSafe Global President and CEO

On Tuesday, May 27, 2014, CSafe Global received the approval from the FAA for use of the CSafe RKN on the upper deck of aircraft, making the CSafe RKN the only FAA approved active ULD for use on both lower and upper decks. What does this mean for our customers?

Forwarders and their life science customers need choices, quicker delivery times and scalability – particularly for the high-value biopharmaceutical temperature-sensitive products. Being able to use the CSafe RKN on both the upper and lower decks will enable them to transport temperature-sensitive products originating closer to the shipment point and to destinations closer to the receiving location, thus reducing road transport and providing faster delivery times. Life science companies will now be able to utilize the superior performance of active compressor driven containers on lanes in which passive packaging has been the only option.

The the transition to more fuel economic and/or right sized aircraft used for cargo service has created a need for the ability to move more bulk product in the upper deck. With this approval, the integrators now have many more flight options available to move precious high value temperature-sensitive products. It also provides an opportunity for those integrators to achieve more of an ‘ideal’ loading configuration mix between upper and lower deck containers on their aircraft, which is one less aspect for them to worry about when managing the aircraft’s weight and balance requirements.

The most recent FAA approval is yet another example of CSafe Global’s continuing commitment to work with their partners to develop a successful temperature-controlled supply chain and provide increased value to our biopharmaceutical customer’s supply chain. For more information about CSafe Global, and the CSafe RKN and AcuTemp passive packaging, please contact one of our global sales representatives or partners.

5 Months on – and how are we doing?

5 Months on – and how are we doing?

For those of us living in Europe, September is that month when that wonderful summer vacation taken in July and/or August is sinking ever faster from our memories.    It is a time to remember when temperature control had more to do with cool beers, ice cubes in our vodka Martini and balmy summer nights.

But for many of us in the healthcare manufacturing, distribution and logistics sectors, September 8 had a more significant meaning to Temperature Management.   After a six-month implementation period, the latest version of the European Union Guidelines on Good Distribution Practice of Medicinal Products for Human Use (2013/C 68/01) came fully into force.   This set of revised GDP regulations also incorporates the requirements of the EU Falsified Medicines Directive.

The original set of GDP guidelines had been in force for almost two decades, and clearly revision was needed to reflect the considerable changes that had taken place in European distribution, import and export of medicinal products and particularly those having sensitivity to temperature control.   The consultation period for these new guidelines generated a considerable amount of feedback from manufacturers, wholesales, distributors and other logistics stakeholders.

It was obvious that everyone wanted to have their say and there was much discussion about the Guidelines, their practicality and their economic implications.  Many from the distribution and logistics sector felt that in the draft form, the new rules represented a considerable extra cost burden especially with the guidelines that would require the creation of a vast number of additional ‘wholesalers’ who had done no more than hold that shipment ready for transportation, for more than 24 hours.

Imagine – it is Friday evening and that pallet delivered today for shipment on Sunday morning suddenly requires a transportation company to hold an expensive distribution license with all that entails.  This element was thankfully dropped in the final GDP document.

But what the new Guidelines have done is strengthen the process of control and responsibility that needs to be in place for effective and safe distribution.  Through its 10 Chapters, it aims to create a clear sense of ownership.  Though originally suggesting it would ‘police’ compliance throughout the supply chain, it has placed that burden clearly on the shoulders of healthcare manufacturers wholesalers and brokers who must audit their supply chain and all its elements.

Though not specifically mentioned in terms of its temperature range, there has been much focus on the needs of so-called ‘CRT’ products, with many people believing that this remains a prime area of focus for the regulations.   And perhaps with just cause since there has been insufficient concern about these types of products particularly where mainland European distribution is generally made by road and where the logistics chain has been particularly fragmented.

Whilst hub-to-hub temperature-controlled vehicles are available, it is a different case further down the logistics process where local distribution and final delivery has long been of concern for CRT temperature-sensitive products.   At a recent European workshop, there was much discussion from manufacturers bemoaning the lack of availability of  ‘final mile’ temperature-controlled vehicles.

So correct packaging remains a vital part of supply chain integrity, particularly since the new guidance requires that …”for temperature-sensitive products, qualified equipment, (e.g. thermal packaging, containers or vehicles) should be used to ensure correct temperature…..”.     And if the recent IQPC ‘Cool Chain & Controlled Room Temperature Logistics Europe’ event is any indication, there is certainly no shortage of thermal packaging suppliers around to serve this sector.  Currently only one provider, CSafe, has focused on being able to offer both active and passive solutions, thereby giving manufacturers the surety and benefits that a single approved supplier can bring.

Cold Chain Logistics Solutions

More investments will need to go into scalable GDP certified cold chain transportation solutions in which the combination between technology and cooling plays a critical role. It is expected that the “new GDP” Guidelines, launched end of 2013, will give a further push to this. At the same time pharmaceutical companies must also challenge their own “interpretation” of GDP requirements related to the real transportation requirements of their products across the various markets. There are many industry examples where “ambient” products have been shipped as “cold chain” when the legal product requirement to do so is not there. Passive packaging has also become more cost-effective making it easier to ship products with normal courier companies. A clear interpretation based on the intended regulations can often provide further opportunities to reduce costs to serve and help simplify the logistics delivery service solution.

So 5 months on from implementation and how are we doing?  For many of the bigger players in the pharma logistics sector, these revised guidelines have been taken in their stride.  But for others, full compliance to GDP has been a major wake-up call.

Manufacturers beware – your audited supply chain needs you!

Edwin Visser, CSafe Global Director of Sales EMEA