ESCATEC, the EMS innovator, is building nearly a third of a million temperature monitors a year for Berlinger & Co of Switzerland. The monitors, which cost a few dollars each depending on the model, monitor the temperature of goods in transit and storage to ensure that they have not been subjected to temperatures that are outside of pre-set boundaries. A key use is for medical supplies such as vaccines and drugs that can spoil if exposed to the wrong temperatures whilst in the logistics chain. This is particularly important for the "last mile" at the end of the distribution network, which may be in a rural location in the tropics where it is hard to ensure that storage temperatures are maintained. Other temperature-sensitive markets include foods such as ice cream and even beer. The devices are very small – similar to a stack of six or so credit cards, which means that they can be deployed covertly if required as a double check of the records of the logistics agent.
"We went to ESCATEC with an initial prototype," explained Corneliu Tobescu, Production and Innovation Manager at Berlinger. "The R&D team in ESCATEC Malaysia then designed it for high volume manufacture in ESCATEC’s Malaysian facilities. We are very impressed with the way that they considered all the aspects from the availability and sourcing of components right through to ensuring that the device used the minimum amount of labour to assemble. As these are one time use, disposable devices, it is vital to keep the manufacturing costs as low as possible. But, on the other hand, they must be very reliable as they must function properly – lives depend on vaccines not being spoilt in transit."
ESCATEC is one of the few contract design and manufacturing companies to be certified to Class 2 and Class 3 for the manufacture of medical devices, the ISO13485 quality management standards. Although the data loggers are not medical devices, they are designed and manufactured to this very high and exacting standard by ESCATEC. "By doing this for every device that we make for customers, they know that they can rely on the quality of the products that we make for them," added Martin Kingdon, Business Development Manager at ESCATEC.
There are three models in the Q-tag® temperature monitor range, all of which powered by lithium coin cells to give a service life of up to five years. The simplest model, the Q-tag Quad, has a display that indicates if the temperature has gone outside of the pre-set boundaries since it was turned on. The next model up, the Q-tag CLm, records temperature changes and the times that they occurred, which are displayed on the built-in screen. This enables the cumulative duration of overruns to be determined as, if minimal, the goods may still be usable. Having the times recorded, enables any problems to be investigated.
The top of the range model, the Q-tag CLm doc, enables all this data to be downloaded via USB for detailed analysis by computer.
The relationship with ESCATEC is proving so successful that Berlinger has asked ESCATEC to design some new products for them which will be launched later this year. "By involving ESCATEC right at the start of designing a product, we will be able to get the product to market quicker as it will be designed for manufacture right from the very start," added Mr Tobescu.
ESCATEC will be exhibiting at World Medtech Forum, Lucerne, Switzerland on stand E2143.in Hall 2 from 17 to 19 Sept 2013. Daniel Pfeifer, ESCATEC’s Product Development Manager, will be presenting ‘How can you be certain to achieve your target product costs’ at 10am on 19th September. Further information on Berlinger click here.