Covid vaccine transportation: PLUSS ties up with Agility, Crystal Logistic

Mamuni Das New Delhi | Updated on January 22, 2021

PLUSS says its boxes help maintain requisite temperature for various vaccine products

Pluss Advanced Technology, an India-based material solutions company that also designs boxes for vaccine transportation, has tied up with several logistics players including Agility Logistics, Crystal Logistic Cool Chain, DHL and Blue Dart, besides SpiceJet, expecting a pie of business to supply temperature-controlled boxes for Covid-19 vaccine transportation. This was disclosed to BusinessLine by Samit Jain, MD, PLUSS, a company funded by Tata Capital Innovations Fund.

How important it is to maintain the ambient temperature is evident from the recent incident when vaccines had to be destroyed in Assam as they partially froze, with temperature dropping below 2 degrees, in an ice-lined refrigerator. Jain said such hazards will not happen with PLUSS insulating material within the pre-defined time limit (ranging 1-5 days) for which it is designed and also, it does not require electricity.

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PLUSS provides such boxes to pharma companies like Merck and Dr Reddy’s for different vaccines and is working closely with Dr Reddy’s (which is in the Phase III trial level for Sputnik V) to design the right box to transpor Covid-19 vaccine.

Boxes with special material

PLUSS, which has got a patent in Europe and has applied for the same in India and US, has designed boxes with special material where the requisite temperature can be maintained for various Covid-19 vaccine products — (two degrees to eight degrees), (minus 20 degrees), (minus 70 degrees). “As of now the box is not re-usable as the reverse logistics has not been worked out. But we would like to work on making it re-usable as well,” said Jain.

“Maintaining precise temperature and ease-of-use is what makes our product different,” Jain said.

“Usually, the manufacturers are buyers for such boxes. But, with Covid-19 vaccine, logistics players are also stepping in, given the large volumes. Logistics players with whom we have tied up will use these boxes if they bag the contract to supply vaccines,” said Jain. The company’s products have been tested in rigorous conditions (wide-ranging temperatures).

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“The special material that we have developed changes phase (liquid-solid-liquid) at the pre-decided temperature. Ice is not the right medium to maintain cold temperature as it freezes at zero degrees which is not the apt temperature,” said Jain.

The company. which expects to clock 20-30 per cent growth this year against last year, and a higher growth rate next year, gets 60 per cent of its revenues from exports. PLUSS, a ₹30-crore company with one factory now, already supplies insulation solutions for polio, DBT, H1N1 vaccines and storing cord blood. It also supplies insulation boxes for storing ice-cream (requiring minus 20 degrees) and frozen food segment with Big Basket, Grofers and Reliance Fresh being its clients.

Solar-based cold storage

Delivery staff of Big Basket and Grofers use scooters with such boxes to deliver products at home; and these boxes are reusable. Additionally, the company provides solutions for insulating industry and office spaces, a business mostly outside of India, said Jain, whose company has also incorporated an office in the Netherlands. Also, PLUSS is providing solar-based cold storage (to store produce for longer duration to prevent distress selling) and solar-driers (to value-add by making sun-dried tomatoes, apples, etc) for farmers in the North East, Tamil Nadu and Telangana. These are funded by governments and CSR funds of companies.

Published on January 22, 2021

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