Cold Chain Packaging Overview

Thermal and Cold Chain packaging refers to products that must remain in a temperature-controlled environment. Often times, packages will experience stresses throughout the distribution process and transportation. A common stressor is environmental conditions. Changes in temperature or humidity can damage packaging (like cardboard) or a product. Pharmaceuticals and food products are common examples of products that may require this type of thermal package. Pharmaceutical package testing is critical for medical products that must remain at a certain temperature. Pharma packaging must be able to keep the product at the desired temperature for the duration of its shelf life. Some drugs have a very short shelf life so it is important that their medicine packaging maintains integrity throughout distribution. Cold chain testing is an important part of ensuring that packages reach their destination ready for consumption/use by the consumer. Keystone has extensive experience performing tests on thermal and cold chain packaging.

Equipped with over 15 climatic chambers and oversized walk in climatic chambers, Keystone Package Testing is capable of administering multiple tests at once and delivering fast results. We can conduct altitude and environmental testing which serve different purposes in the distribution process.

Environmental Testing:

The purpose of environmental testing is to observe the effects of temperature and humidity on a package and its contents by using temperature chambers. Throughout the distribution process, a package can be exposed to various atmospheres. For example, a product could be transported in a shipping container without temperature controls for a long period of time. Environmental testing is intended to be representative of the distribution chain. The testing will determine if the package is able to withstand the temperature and humidity changes and protect the product inside. Temperature testing and humidity testing occur in temperature controlled chambers. Sometimes, the package is subjected to temperature shocks. For those packages, a thermal shock chamber is used to transport a package using a hydraulic lift, from one temperature extreme to another. Additionally, environmental testing is used as conditioning prior to other types of package testing.

Altitude Testing:

Altitude testing is meant to measure the effects that high altitude and reduced air pressure have on a package. Sometimes, packages are transported at high altitudes. Feeder aircraft and ground transportation over high mountain passes are both examples of shipping methods that might not be pressurized. This can cause the package to burst or be damaged in other ways. Ultimately, a package needs to be safely transported and altitude testing will ensure the package is able to withstand the high altitudes it may encounter.

Transit Testing:

Transit testing covers the many types of testing pertaining to shipping and transportation. Packages can experience many different stresses throughout the distribution channel. These stresses include drops, bumps, shakes, and vibrations that can all cause damage to the package. Especially for thermal and cold chain packaging, it is imperative that the package is able to maintain its integrity throughout transit. Keystone thermal package testing can help prevent the costly fees that are associated with damage and replacement products.

Below is a list of some of the most common testing standards used for thermal and cold chain packaging. If you are looking for another specific test that you do not see listed here, please contact us!

*sometimes IEC and EN standards are interchangeable, for example, IEC and EN 60601 are the same standard

Keystone Package Testing is an ISTA certified lab and proud to provide customers with reliable testing and reports. With international accreditation, competitive pricing, and quick turnaround time, Keystone is the right package testing partner. Our testing engineers are experienced and have thorough knowledge of industry standards. They are prepared to guide you through the package testing process. Let’s get started! Request a quote or contact us at (724) 657-9940.