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February 26, 2020

How to ship Antivirals and Clinical Trials to China

As the coronavirus continues its deadly rampage with nearly 1,400 people deceased and over 48’000 infected across China, pharmaceutical companies and scientists are working diligently on new treatments and vaccines against the virus. At the moment China has more than 80 running or pending clinical trials on potential treatments for COVID-19. This has resulted in an increased transport volume of antivirals and experimental drugs to China.  In order to meet the urgent demand for these products, the pharmaceutical companies have to send the life-saving products by air freight, which has its own risks. International air freight routes into China are complex, and it must be ensured that medicines are not spoiled by temperature excursions throughout the supply chain.


It is our joint responsibility as an industry to ensure that life-saving products for the treatment of corona viruses reach patients in time and in perfect condition. SkyCell provides you with the expertise and pallet capacity (22’000 and growing) to implement and execute a door-to-door cold chain into China. Here are the solutions we propose:


Simulation before execution

Imagine a tool based on collected real shipment data that would help you simulate high-risk routes to emerging markets and identify risks. You could simulate and analyze different scenarios and routes before performing your shipment. This is what we offer at SkyCell. We’ve collected over 3 billion data points of our shipments over the last 6 years to give you the adequate dataset to perform this task. Using the SkyCell Transport Planner (SCTP), we can simulate door-to-door routes and define standard operation processes (SOPs). The SCTP is a GAMP 5 compliant tool that enables a risk-based approach. In the following case, you will discover how data-driven shipment simulation and door-to-door delivery eliminates temperature excursions and thus enables you to accelerate product releases in China.

Temperature Monitoring System

China is the world’s second-largest market for pharmaceuticals and the fastest emerging market for the sector. However, shipping to and from China is challenging because of tightening guidelines and increasing charges for disposable solutions. Furthermore, pharma containers classified as aircraft equipment can not leave the airport. The reloading of the goods at the airport and insufficient protection of the products during road transportation generate frequent temperature deviations in shipments, which require CAPAs, which in turn delay product release. This is the reason why clients decide to implement SkyCell solutions in this area.


A door-to-door supply chain is key

SkyCell not only offers the safest container solution worldwidewe also have a special angle to tackle the Chinese market. The SkyCell operations team has established a special process in agreement with Shanghai and Beijing customs which allows our containers to leave airports in China and be delivered door-to-door to bonded and non-bonded warehouses. This eliminates the risk factor of unloading the products at the airport and reduces future audit effort for unloading sites at the airport. In this way, temperature deviations can be prevented through a closed cold chain which results in an accelerated time-to-market. In a competitive market like China where short lead times are crucial, a seamless and reliable door-to-door supply chain can be a strategic weapon.

SkyCell containers have been deployed to transport antibodies, used for organ and stem cell transplantation, from Germany to China. Discover the latest results of our shipment to Beijing:

  • Month: June
  • Route: Munich to Beijing
  • Temperature range: +2° to +8°C
  • Duration: 4 days

Take a look at the SkyCell Temperature Tracking System: the temperature inside the container stays at a steady 5°C (blue line) meanwhile the ambient temperature (red line) varies between +4° to +31°C. Thanks to the self-recharging function of the container, it can be transported at 5°C for an unlimited period of time and recharges itself in this refrigerated environment. This is achieved without electricity or mechanical components, which makes the container both easy to handle and independent of the capacity of the infrastructure.

Graphic shows the temperature readout of the shipment


  • Considerable time savings
  • Immediate product release to the market
  • Saving 9.13 tons of CO2

The products could be transported directly to their destination in the SkyCell container without reloading at the airport. Thus, the products were transported in a fully GDP compliant condition and were released immediately to market – without wasting time and resources. How much CO2 could be saved?

For obvious reasons, all pharma companies are already operating under strict environmental controls and great efforts are made to reduce COemissions. SkyCell supports its clients in achieving their sustainability goals and enables them to save a significant amount of CO2 emissions per shipment compared to conventional container solutions. 

A regular transport of one US pallet with an RKN solution would have produced 23.56 tons of CO2 emissions. According to the independent analysis conducted by the renowned and global myclimate organization, SkyCell containers saved 9.13 tons of CO2 per US pallet on this trip compared with commonly used solutions.

Commonly used solution: 755kg volumetric weight incl. cargo, SkyCell 1500 incl. cargo 635kg.

To help grasp how much 9.13 tons of CO2 are: it is equivalent to the emissions of one car driving 61’000 km, one and a half times around the globe.

Get in touch with our cold chain experts and start planning your shipments to China:

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