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November 3, 2020

Partnership between SkyCell and Unitrans to Secure Sensitive Biologics

SkyCell and Unitrans International Corporation (an AIT Worldwide Logistics Company) have partnered up to provide increased access to SkyCell’s hybrid containers for the transport of life-saving pharmaceuticals around the world. The new Master Lease Agreement (MLA) to lease self-charging, temperature-controlled hybrid containers follows on from the positive impact of the pre-existing relationship between SkyCell and the US-based Unitrans team since 2018. As specialists in the transport of biologic medicines, Unitrans have now cemented their partnership with SkyCell after seeing exceptional results for shipments of their most vulnerable pharmaceuticals with the SkyCell hybrid.


To uphold safety standards for sensitive pharmaceuticals and simultaneously adapt and prepare for a potential worldwide distribution of another vulnerable pharmaceutical (the future Covid-19 vaccine), emphasis must be placed on the importance of collaboration and partnership. As our industry works to continue to safely transport the medicine that has been essential even before the pandemic and looks forward to an unclear future, this is a partnership offering more certainty for essential medicines at a time of great uncertainty in the world.

As of early 2020, annual global sales of biologics and vaccines—which require strict temperature control—exceeded $340 billion. Amid the continued growth of these markets, cold-chain logistics account for nearly 18% of all biopharma logistics spending, according to the 2020 Biopharma Cold Chain Sourcebook published by Pharmaceutical Commerce.

To ensure full efficacy, safety and compliance, biologic medicine relies on consistent temperature environments of between +2°C to +8°C or +15°C to +25°C and protection from vibration caused by vehicles. The hybrid has an independent run time of an average of 8.4 days, and the possibility to prolong the run time for an extended period through automatic recharge in a cooling chamber. This enables the hybrid to maintain the steady temperatures required throughout extensive shipments, even as it travels through varying climates. Coupled with the shock-absorbing feet on the bottom of the containers, the hybrid is offering much-needed peace of mind for those shipping these vulnerable pharmaceuticals to patients around the world.

The IoT (‘Internet of Things’) sensors integrated into each container offer further peace of mind for those shipping the medicines, increasing visibility and security of the shipments even after producers part with them. The sensors allow tracking not only of the location of the shipment, but also of the internal and external temperature conditions of the containers as they move around the globe.

Furthermore, in an era where sustainability is no longer just a buzzword, the partnership offers Unitrans clients the possibility to adapt to new industry requirements. Unitrans can now support their pharma clients to reduce CO2 emissions and landfill with SkyCell containers, as all SkyCell containers are almost entirely recyclable, helping to eliminate landfill by preventing product waste. Each hybrid shipment cuts carbon footprint by up to 50% due to an optimized weight-volume ratio.

This partnership between SkyCell and Unitrans marks an important moment for the US-based Biopharma industry, and opens up a wide door to safer and more sustainable ways of shipping vital pharmaceuticals for the industry as a whole.

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