Cold Chain Package Testing Lab

Cold Chain Package Integrity Testing

Summary of Cold Chain and Temperature Package Testing

Thermal and Cold Chain packaging refers to products that must remain in a temperature-controlled environment. Oftentimes, packages will experience stress 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.

Scope of the Temperature Validation Testing Process

The temperature validation process finds potential problems before a product is shipped. To do this, sensors known as thermocouples are placed both inside and outside the package. The product, within its package, is then subjected to a variety of temperature conditions. This can range from very hot to very cold temperatures, including sudden changes in temperature, known as thermal shock.

For a detailed check of the package’s ability to maintain temperature, a technique called temperature mapping is used. This is particularly important for larger items or when dealing with many packages at once, like on a pallet. In such cases, thermocouples are distributed throughout the pallet, and a kind of temperature analysis, known as thermal modeling, is performed. This helps identify if any specific spots on the pallet are more likely to experience temperature issues. Temperature mapping is a critical step in ensuring that the temperature throughout the package or pallet is consistent.

The specifics of temperature mapping can change depending on several factors related to the cold chain, which is the system used to keep products at the right temperature during transport. These factors include differences in packaging based on how and where the product is being sent, as well as the time of year and the climate of the destination. Understanding these variables is essential for selecting the right packaging materials and packing methods.

Any irregularities found during this process must be taken seriously. For food and pharmaceuticals, regulations like those from the FDA require that any problems be fully recorded and looked into. Issues with packaging can significantly affect the product’s quality and safety, impacting the manufacturer’s reputation and sales. In essence, the success of a product doesn’t just depend on its quality, but also on how well it’s packaged for transport. Proper packaging is crucial.

Cold Chain Test Types

Climatic and Mechanical Testing:

The purpose of climatic and dynamic packaging 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 such as climatic and dynamic 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.

Cold Chain Package Test Standards

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!

Expert Cold Chain Validation Testing Laboratory

Keystone Package Testing is an ISTA-certified lab and is 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 a 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.


Interested in the EMC/EMI, climatic, dynamic, shielding effectiveness, or IP Code testing of a product? Follow the corresponding links or for more information.