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Temperature Control & Cold Chain Packaging 101

Both temperature control and cold chain packaging refer to packaging designed to keep products at a certain temperature until the time of arrival at their destination. This, of course, has countless applications. Everything from food products to chemicals needs to maintain a constant temperature. This kind of packaging allows them to be sent to potentially far places all while staying at that temperature. There are many options when it comes to acquiring your own temperature controlled packaging. In this guide, we hope to better your understanding of your options when it comes to temperature-controlled packaging.

Types of Temperature Control & Cold Chain Packaging

There are three main types of temperature-controlled packaging. Each of them is designed for certain uses that the others don’t specialize in.

Active Systems

First off is active systems. Active systems refer to temperature-controlled packaging that does not make use of what’s called phase change materials. A phase change material is essentially something like ice, which keeps things cold naturally. An active system will instead opt to use electrical systems to keep a product at its desired temperature.

Passive Systems

A passive system makes use of the phase change materials mentioned above. They are simple in nature and are typically incredibly cheap. These systems are less effective than active systems in some circumstances. Because they make use of these materials, they may not be suited for long range travel.

Hybrid Systems

Hybrid systems do exactly what they imply. They make use of both phase change materials and an electrical system of some kind. This system combines the reliability of an active system with the cost-effective nature of a passive system. However, because they make use of active systems and passive systems this system features the drawbacks of both. The active system within this process could require maintenance. Passive systems are also known to be less accurate when it comes to maintaining a certain temperature during transit. Making use of both systems could prove to be inconvenient.

Cold Chain Packaging on Grocery Store Shelves

Three Core Components

Regardless of which system you choose to employ, you will likely find that temperature-controlled packaging systems are built upon three main components. These three main components are important to understand. Having a definition for each part will allow you to understand what goes into making each part effective.

Outer Packaging

The first core component to temperature-controlled packaging is the outer packaging. The outer packaging material is extremely important to get right as this is what will protect your product and the insulation around it from getting damaged during transit. The outer packaging for temperature-controlled packages should be made out of a tough material to be able to take on the potentially harsh moving environments. Typically, it will be made out of either corrugated cardboard, or fluted polypropylene. Both materials have the ability to withstand tough conditions and maintain the insulated products inside.


The next part of this puzzle is the insulation. The type of materials used to insulate these packages is typically either foam based or are made up of vacuum insulation panels. The whole goal of either of these materials is to ensure that neither cold, nor warm air will make its way into, or out of the packaging, thus keeping the materials at a constant temperature. Without proper insulation, any temperature sensitive product would surely be lost in transit.

Phase Change Material

Finally, there’s the phase change material. Though we touched on this earlier, the phase change material is used to help a product maintain its temperature within the insulation. Whether a product needs to remain hot, or cold, a proper phase change material should be able to make any trip. Some materials like this are designed to be recharged While en route to the destination of the product. The phase change material is what truly maintains a given product’s temperature, thus making them arguably the most important part of the process.

What Matters to You?

When it comes to selecting the kinds of temperature-controlled packaging that would be right for you, you need to keep a few things in mind. The following list should help you determine what you need to look out for when trying to purchase temperature-controlled packaging.

Pharmaceutical Temperature Control Packaging


The volume of a temperature-controlled package will determine how much it can fit within it. To get a better idea of how much volume your packaging would need, you need to understand what kind of product you’re shipping. Is it large, or small? Is it heavy, or light? These things all matter when you are trying to establish how much the packaging can hold.


The next thing that is personalized to your own products and business, is the duration of time that a temperature-controlled package can keep your products fresh. This can vary from package to package, and the system that you decide to employ within the package itself will have a large effect on the duration of time that the package can hold out for. Of course, this will also be affected by how far you intend to ship your products. If they are going locally, you won’t have to make as many adjustments as you would if they were going far.

Temperature Range

The temperature range is an important part of a given package as well. The ability of a package to maintain a certain temperature depends on the system employed within it. Active and hybrid systems are quite capable of achieving and maintaining very small temperature ranges. Passive systems can maintain certain ranges, but they may fluctuate more in transit than the others. Understanding the temperatures at which it is safe to keep your products is important for keeping them fresh.


The pre-conditioning aspect of cold chain packaging only comes into play when one is making use of passive systems. A passive system requires that a package be conditioned to a certain extent to make sure that the phase change material within is ready for transit. Though hybrid systems may also need to worry about this to an extent. If you intend to make use of a passive system in your cold chain packaging system, then you need to be ready to pre-condition your packaging.

Single or Multi-Use

One final thing to keep in mind when trying to select your own cold chain packaging is a given package’s ability to be reused. If your business revolves around constantly shipping temperature-sensitive products then multi-use packages may be for you. These packages are typically higher quality than single-use packages and they are built to be used over and over again, which is better for the environment. If your company can make use of multi-use packages, then they might be the best decision for you.

Industries Served and Environmental Impact

Many industries now make use of cold chain packaging. Pharmaceutical companies need to keep their medicine at a certain temperature in transit. Of course, the food and beverage industry needs to keep its products fresh. Even certain products produced in the beauty and cosmetic industries make use of cold chain packaging. The environmental sustainability of these packages is also solid. With multi-use cold chain packaging on the rise, much smaller amounts of harmful materials are making it into the environment. There are also many alternatives to Styrofoam now, which allows a company to opt-out of using the detrimental material if they desire.

Environmental Impact Hands Around Growing Plant

Order Stock or Custom Designed Temperature Control & Cold Chain Packaging Today

We at Morrisette take pride in our ability to meet the needs of our customers. We can satisfy every cold chain packaging related inquiry from design to automation with ease and professionalism. With a wide variety of cold chain packaging available in our stock, we are sure you’ll find a product that suits your needs. If that doesn’t work, we can work with you to create a custom solution that will satisfy your shipping requirements. If you’re in need of temperature-controlled packaging, call us today! Our services are sure to bring your temperature-controlled packaging to the next level.

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