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Temperature-Controlled Packaging – Active, Passive or Hybrid?

Temperature-controlled packaging

With an increasing number of packaging options, choosing the right temperature-controlled packaging solution can be difficult. When deciding upon a Life Sciences logistics service provider, you may have to consider the packaging solutions provided. The following sections will elaborate on the various types of temperature-controlled shippers. 

What are Active Shippers? – Temperature-Controlled Packaging With Electric Systems And An Energy Source 

Active shippers are electric systems powered by an energy source, bonded with thermostatic control to maintain proper product temperatures. ‘Plug in time’ is often used to describe this system, which indicates charging prior to use and at key touch points, similar to how a refrigerator works. Throughout the charging process, the internal temperature is actively heated or cooled. 

On the other hand, active systems are related to a closed-loop distribution framework to ensure appropriate maintenance of reusable equipment. Although these systems can keep the products at the required temperature, they are relatively expensive to purchase and repair. Compared to passive shippers, they are more costly as they are heavier and require maintenance after every shipment. 

What are Passive Shippers? – Temperature-Controlled Packaging With Phase-Changing Materials, Water Coolants or Dry Ice 

Passive systems keep a payload at the right temperature by using phase-changing materials (PCMs), water coolants, dry ice and insulation materials. Compared to active and hybrid systems, these systems offer more flexibility as they do not have power sources, touch points or electrical circuits.  

In general, passive systems have fewer shipping restrictions and weigh less, leading to reduced freight costs. Moreover, passive systems offer a larger variety in sizes, and maintenance is not required after each shipment.  

What are Hybrid Shippers? – A Combination of Electric Systems and Phase-Changing Materials (PCMs) 

Hybrid shippers are equivalent to active shippers, but they include a phase-changing material (PCM) bunker. When the system is not charged by a power source, hybrid systems automatically use phase-changing materials to maintain proper product temperatures. 

Overall, hybrid systems share many of the same pros and cons as active systems. Nevertheless, hybrid shippers have fewer components that need maintenance.  

Comparing Shippers: 

Active Shippers VS Passive Shippers VS Hybrid Shippers 

Type of shipper Active Shippers  Passive Shippers  Hybrid Shippers  
How to keep the product at the right temperature? -Contain electric  
systems powered by an energy source. 
 -Bonded with thermostatic control.   
-Incorporate phase-changing materials (PCMs), water coolants, dry ice and insulation materials. -Contain active electric systems and phase-changing materials (PCMs). -When the system is not charged by a power source, hybrid systems automatically use phase-changing materials to maintain temperature.  
   Cost  -More expensive to purchase, run and repair. -Less freight costs due to fewer shipping restrictions and lower weight.  -More expensive to purchase and run.  
   Maintenace    -Required. Active shippers require appropriate maintenance. -Not required. -Required. Hybrid shippers require appropriate maintenance. However, there are fewer components that need maintenance.   
   Pros and Cons    Pros: -The best in temperature control.  

Cons: -Expensive.  
Pros: -More sizes and temperature ranges. -Low freight costs. 
Cons: -Have the lowest temperature accuracy. 
Pros: -Maintain good temperature control.  
Cons: -Expensive. 

Make your Decision – Which Shipper Should You Choose? 

Overall, when it comes to shipping temperature-controlled products, all types of shipper’s work. Selecting the right packaging material depends on the internal and external factors of each shipment. The following key points highlight the main factors to consider: 

Size Availability: Active and hybrid shippers have a narrower selection of payload sizes, while passive shippers offer more variety. 

Temperature Accuracy: Active shippers have the highest temperature accuracy, followed by hybrid shippers, while passive shippers are the least accurate of the three solutions. 

Shipping Cost: Active and hybrid shippers are more expensive than passive shippers. 

Reliability: Active and hybrid shippers are more reliable than passive shippers due to the internal energy source active and hybrid shippers have. 

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