The Indian Cold Chain scenario does not, very often, find introduction of innovative products and solutions that catch the eye of the user fraternity. However, recently we saw one such innovative cold transportation solution. Let us take a look at this solution, its features, advantages and who would be the prime users of this product.

The product is wisely called The Cold Box. It is an insulated box approximately the size of 7’ X 5’ X 7’ having a storage capacity of about 60 cubic feet. (Refer Fig 1) The Box is equipped with an on board active refrigeration system (operating on Freon) that can be adjusted for delivering a wide range of temperature setting between Plus 50C and minus 20C.

The Cold Box has a tare weight of approximately 635 kg and it can take a payload of about 800 kg. The Cold Box can be loaded onto any type of flat bed truck with appropriate dimensions to hoist the box onto it. The most innovative and key feature of this box is that it does not require any prime mover like vehicle driven power to operate its refrigeration system. The refrigeration system is driven by a set of high-performance batteries that can operate the refrigeration unit for over 3-4 days on a single full charge. The Cold Box is easily lifted onto the flatbed truck or van by means of a fork lift. It can be charged even as it is on the stationery vehicle. All it requires is a 15 Amp plug point to charge. The Cold Box is designed to meet the FDA specifications and has, several innovations like cloud-based tracking and tracing. All specifications are exhibited in Table 1. This makes the Cold Box a very versatile solution to transport a wide range of perishables.

Stack Boxing – for Multi Temperature Transportation

There are several advantages of the Cold Box over the conventional reefer trucks that ply the Indian roads today. One of the biggest advantages is that the Cold Box operates on battery power that is clean power and does not pollute the air unlike the conventional reefer trucks that guzzle diesel and emit substantial pollution. Other advantages like multi-temperature stack-boxing and others are listed in Table 2.

The product was initially developed in the USA for transporting Small Volume High Value (SVHV) pharmaceutical products between the Pharma Cold stores and the airports. This specific duty is called as ‘Airport Ingress & Egress.’

In India as well as globally the user fraternity is in search of a Less Than Truck Load (LTL) Cold Transportation solution that can effectively and economically transport small volumes of high value products under active temperature control. The Cold Box has been by far the best solution to come along beating all its alternatives (like PCM based solutions) on account of its active on-board refrigeration. As its popularity and versatility was understood by the transporters and asset owners, its use for cold transportation spread to other sensitive products like chemicals, high value food additives and food products (Table 3).

Today, the Cold Box is poised for a major role in the LTL Cold Transportation in India. Trials in this summer have proven extremely effective. A tracker of one such trial with live load for a very reputed chemical company is exhibited alongside (Refer fig 3-A-B-C). The trials were conducted from Tamil Nadu in south India to Rajasthan in North West India.

Figure 3a: Performance in Summer of 2019- 7 days’ journey Tamil Nadu to Rajasthan
Figure 3b: Performance in Summer of 2019 – 7 days’ journey Tamil Nadu to Rajasthan
Figure 3c: Performance in Summer of 2019- 7 days’ journey. Tamil Nadu to Rajasthan

Indian industry and businesses badly need this solution to optimise the costs of LTL Cold Transportation throughout the country as it moves ahead in thrust areas like food distribution, food wastage savings, safe pharmaceutical product transportation, Vaccine distribution and healthcare for its population living in far rural outreach of the country.