Keeping things cool

Cathay Pacific Cargo offers a range of cooltainers from five suppliers to keep the cool chain unbroken for temperature-sensitive shipments

With vaccine shipments in the news, there has been a lot of media attention surrounding cool-chain logistics, and a real interest in how temperature-sensitive goods are transported. In many cases, these shipments are only possible because of the cooltainer technology supplied by expert manufacturers across the globe.

Cathay Pacific offers products from five of the world’s leading suppliers – CSafe Global, DoKaSch, Envirotainer, Sonoco ThermoSafe, and va-Q-tec.

‘We want to offer our customers flexibility and choice in terms of container size and temperature range, across active and passive products,’ says Cathay Pacific Cargo Products Manager Alex Leung. ‘The product range from these suppliers can handle every type of shipment, from perishables to pharma, across a large temperature range.’

The other important issue from a customer perspective is availability and a good geographical spread of service hubs, so that the cooltainers are readily available across the world. Leung adds: ‘Many of our suppliers have hubs at Hong Kong, but pharma shipments, for example, tend to have origins in Europe, the US and Australia, so it’s important to offer solutions that the market wants and to have availability where it is needed.’

Here is some information about Cathay Pacific’s chosen suppliers’ products, and where they are available across the world.

CSafe Global

Products:  CSafe RKN, RAP

Vital stats: RKN: payload volume 2m³; max payload 941kg. RAP: payload volume 6.68m³; max payload 4,819kg.

Availability: CSafe Global has thousands of containers that are constantly on the move using an AI logistics platform which allows for better forecasting of needs, and which routes containers accordingly. It continues to manufacture new containers and increased production of RAP containers in 2021.

Service centres/hubs: 45. Americas: Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dayton, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, Memphis, Mexico City, Miami, Newark, New York, Philadelphia, Raleigh, San Francisco, San Juan, Sao Paulo, Toronto. APAC: Beijing, Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Incheon, Osaka, Melbourne, Shanghai, Singapore, Sydney, Taipei, Tokyo Narita. EMEA: Amsterdam, Barcelona, Basel, Brussels, Cologne, Dublin, Florence, Frankfurt, London Heathrow, Luxembourg, Milan, Paris CDG, Rome, Stockholm, Tel Aviv, Vienna, Zurich.


The CSafe RKN and RAP are both active containers with the capability of heating and cooling the payload within a set temperature range of +4°C to +25°C, in 1°C increments. The only difference between them is in payload, with the RKN holding one standard EU or US pallet, while the RAP can hold five standard EU pallets or four standard US pallets.

CSafe’s containers feature superior Vacuum Insulated Panel (VIP) insulation delivering extended battery run time of more than 120 hours, and can perform in extreme ambient conditions (-30°C to +54°C) to protect against payload temperature excursions. The temperature management system uses an array of sensors, and the company is currently implementing real-time shipment visibility via an integrated telemetry device that delivers data to a cloud-based platform, where customers can monitor shipments. The container’s air recirculation system delivers a precise temperature-controlled ‘air cushion’ without the need to load the product on a pallet, thus increasing payload volume to maximise value, while CSafe’s Preventative Maintenance Rebuild (PMR) programme keeps its global fleet of containers in peak operating condition.

More information:


Products: Opticooler RAP and RKN

Vital stats: Opticooler comes in two sizes, RAP and RKN. The RAP can hold five Euro pallets (usable volume 6.57m³), the RKN 1.5 Euro pallets (usable volume 1.88m³).

Temperature range: The temperature range is between +2°C to +30°C (three presets of +2°C to +8°C and +5°C to +25°C, or any range between +2°C to +30°C), and it operates effectively in ambient temperatures of +30°C to +50°C.

Active/passive: Both the RAP and RKN are battery-powered active temperature-controlled ULDs.

Availability: DoKaSch has proven availability for order confirmation over recent years, with a standard lead time of four working days. Delivery to client facilities come with no trucking costs within the free delivery area, which includes markets such as the US, Europe, Israel, India, and Japan. Express overnight delivery can be arranged.

Service centres/hubs: DoKaSch has delivery/stock areas across the US, Europe, Israel, India, Japan and many more locations across the globe.


Opticoolers offer the highest standards of temperature reliability, 100 per cent availability and a free delivery network in specific markets. Battery charging time is quick on both unit sizes – from zero to 100 per cent in around four hours, and around two and a half hours from 50 per cent to fully charged.

More information:


Products: RAP t2, RAP e2; RKN t2, RKN e1

Size: RAP and RKN

Temperature range: Deep frozen to CRT (controlled room temperature) depending on ULD type and configuration.

Active/passive: Active temperature-controlled systems and dry-ice-cooled solutions.

Availability: More than 6,000 ULDs with annual capacity to ship more than 150,000 pallets with industry-leading availability of units, and zero missed orders during 2020.

Service centre/hubs: More than 50 service stations globally, covering more than 300 airports, more than 2,000 trade lanes, and regional operations centres in APAC, EMEA, and the Americas.


Envirotainer solutions are FAA and EASA-certified. There are four different active solutions with the state-of-the-art RAP e2 being the most environmentally friendly temperature-controlled ULD available in the market. For ultracold shipments RAP t2 features a thermostat-controlled heat exchanger powered by alkaline batteries, using dry ice as a coolant. The RAP e2 maintains product temperatures in the +2°C to +8°C range, controlled room temperature (+15°C to +25°C) range or at any chosen set temperature between 0°C and +25°C in nearly any ambient condition.

More information:

Sonoco ThermoSafe

Products: PharmaPort 360, Pegasus ULD

Vital stats: PharmaPort 360: one US pallet; Pegasus ULD (to be released in Q3 2021) one US pallet.

Temperature range: PharmaPort 360: +2°C to +8°C, setpoint +5°C; Pegasus ULD: +2°C to +8°C, with more ranges to be added.

Active/passive: PharmaPort 360: active; Pegasus ULD will be Sonoco Thermosafe’s first hybrid-passive ULD.

Availability: 300-plus PharmaPort 360 units.

Service centre hubs: Currently nine handling and repair centres, which will double in number during 2022. Containers are available through wider network of airline partners.


The active PharmaPort 360 offers proprietary Pro-Tectic® Temperature Storage Technology, which meets or exceeds WHO cold chain storage and distribution guidelines. It eliminates the need for dry-ice/CO2 and refrigerated trucking, as well as reducing the need for insulative packaging. Its composite wall insulation can tolerate extreme ambient differentials while maintaining straight-line +5°C storage temperatures. It was the first active unit launched with real-time, cloud-based visibility to all system data, including location. It comes with a universal power input for charging, and the solid surface container base permits forklift access from all sides.

The forthcoming hybrid-passive Pegasus ULD is engineered with composite materials to offer a lighter solution that is substantially more damage-resistant than traditional metal containers. It will also be the first passive ULD unit launched to market with real-time, cloud-based visibility to all system data, including location and more environmental variables, offering a more economical alternative for bulk pharma shipments.

More information:


Product: va-Q-tainer

Vital stats: Comprehensive five-size container portfolio from half-Euro pallet to two US pallet payload volume.

Temp range: -80°C to +25°C (as low as -60°C without dry ice).

Active/passive: Advanced passive technology and dry-ice-free as low as -60 °C.

Availability: More than 2,500 containers.

Service centres/hubs: Almost 40 globally.


va-Q-tec offers with its va-Q-tainer portfolio a complete low-energy, low-emission, advanced passive solution with superior performance using VIP (vacuum insulated panels) and PCM (phase change materials, which are non-water based materials that melt or freeze according to the required temperature range). This ensures proven reliability by mitigating the risk of mechanical failure. Truly global door-to-door transportation enables a secure unbroken cold chain with no need to load or unload cargo at the terminal and transfer using cold trucks.

More information:

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