Cold Chain Management

Posted by Chuck Harrell on Aug 20, 2015 11:00:00 AM

appstory01-1-2One of the challenges within the pharmaceutical industry is cold chain management i.e. keeping products which are not heat stable (such as vaccines, serums, tests, etc.), at constant temperatures (between +2°C and +8°C) from the time of manufacture until use. Health workers at all levels are often responsible for maintaining the cold chain while vaccines are stored in provincial and county stores, or while they are being transported, and while they are being used during immunization sessions or rounds. 

With increasing frequency it is becoming the logistician’s responsibility to manage the cold chain as a part of the supply chain and as such they must be trained to both use and manage these materials. Therefore they must: acquire knowledge about the cold chain, develop thorough work techniques, specifically with respect to maintenance, and able to ensure better procedures. This includes having appropriate efficient logistics mechanisms to manage shipping, fuel, spare parts etc. Without training, the program will be seriously compromised and put at risk. 

So to ensure these tasks are carried out ETEK designed and established themain HMI application for BIOLOGIX FZ CO which is related to these coldchain environmental parameters, to connect and gather data from all distributed areas which need more focus on product safety, integrity and ingredients.

The main objective of the system was to control and monitor environmental parameters such as temperature and humidity which will directly affect the quality of the cold chain products. For this system there are two specific areas which need to be monitored: the cold chain, this is a network of refrigerators, cold stores, freezers and cold boxes organized andmaintained so that vaccines are kept at the right temperatureto remain potent during vaccine transportation, storage and distribution from factory to the point of use; and temperature control, which ensures that specific temperatures are maintained for particularly volatile vaccines which can be damaged by temperatures above +48°C. To avoid damage to the vaccines staff must know how temperatures are monitored and understand how to interpret temperature readings (indexes).

To achieve the required target, ETEK built and integrated an automation control system using an ADVANTECH APAX PLC control distributed HMI monitoring system. Thisdescribes all major “state of the art” Dialer, Controllers along with the five I/O racks, Industrial Unmanaged Fast Ethernet Switches, a Human Machine Interface (HMI) and temperature sensors. The project was performed on time and below budget. 

The system used APAX-5000 controllers (APAX-5040, 5013, 5060,5017) to collect data from third party humidity and temperature sensors whereit’s sent to an Advantech WEBOP-2070T touch panel computer running Advantech WebAccess 8.0+ via and EKI 3525 Ethernet switch. To view the data from a mobile device the switch sends information through a dialer.Through the use of pre-developed user configurable widgets, managers and engineers configured the system to meet their precise needs and then sent them to the TPC where the data monitored and analyzed. Through the use of a static IP address and WebAccess’s HTML5 GUI (graphical user interface) all the settings of machinery are configured and monitored remotely usinga compatible Web Browser. The GUI is flexible enough for engineers to design the system that exactly meets their needs now and can be easily adjusted as the needs of the business change. 

WebAccess 8.0s three open interfaces, allows it to become an IoT Platform and gives developers the opportunity to develop applications from the bottom up. The Web Service interfaceallows partners to integrateWebAccess data into applications and application system. The pluggable widget interface lets developers write their own widgets to run from the dashboard. Thirdly, the WebAccess API allows developers to write DLLs to use in Microsoft Windows applications. This open source approach to development gives users the greatest amount of flexibility for those who require it.


Advantech was chosen for this project because it wasthe best all-round solution. Advantech’s solution was to provide a fully scalable system which could meet any growth requirements. The openness of Advantech’s system meant that ETEK’s engineers could customize the system to meet their specific needs and reduce the costs of maintenance and development. In addition,if extra support is required, Advantech post-sales staffs are readily available.

By using Advantech’s cost effective solution, ETEK was able to provide a system that was easy to develop and engineer at a much more efficient level. With this efficient system operators can control and monitor the environmental parameters affecting the quality of these cold chain products.

Advantech Website

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