Temperature-sensitive products are exactly that: sensitive. The wrong kind of packaging, build-up, or handling can destroy these shipments and lead to huge claims. Whilst airports, warehouses, and airlines have largely ramped up when it comes to handling temperature-sensitive goods, one weak link in the chain remains: exposure to the elements whilst the shipment is travelling to/from the warehouse to the aircraft. This is where La Couverture comes in – a revolutionary, hybrid take on standard thermo covers and thermo dollies, used to protect shipments requiring temperatures of +15°C to +25°C, whilst out on the tarmac. CFG spoke to the man behind the product, Marco Del Giudice, Founder & Owner, la Couverture.
CFG: How and when did the idea for La Couverture arise?
MDG: It came step by step over the last 5 years. My company [MdG Srl] supplies the pharma industry with thermal cover solutions. Sometimes, the pharma companies came back to us for logistic investigations due to temperature excursions and we found out that these happened mainly on tarmac. Separately from us, IATA also highlighted this problem and created the CEIV Pharma certification. This was the major reason why the airfreight industry invested heavily in new temperature-controlled infrastructure in airports, but the tarmac still remains the weak link in the logistics chain. We therefore decided to develop a hybrid solution that is an item of equipment that is sustainable, and that offers unrivalled value for money.
What La Couverture covers and who will use it
CFG: What commodities is La Couverture ideal for?
MDG: We don’t believe in solutions that can be used for all kinds of scenarios – that’s why we chose to specialize only in temperature-sensitive healthcare products in the +15°C to +25°C temperature range, and in lower deck size. Firstly, because there is a real need within the industry to protect all of these products during handling. Secondly, because a main deck size would not be manageable and is also not really needed, because freighters are mostly parked in front of cargo warehouses. The problem is mainly for lower decks that need to be loaded on passenger widebodies positioned far away from the cargo area.
CFG: To whom will La Couverture be sold? Who is the target group?
MDG: Our hybrid thermal protection solution is mainly aimed at ground and ramp handlers, but also at all companies that manage and handle ULDs of pharmaceutical products at +15°C to +25°C. It can also be used by freight forwarders that deliver BUP ULDs or similar. In short, it is aimed at all stakeholders who need to protect their temperature-sensitive shipments (+15C° to +25C°) from extreme temperature variations on the tarmac (up to 5 hours of protection).
CFG: Will it play a role in COVID-19 vaccine transports in any way?
No, our solution is for +15°C-+25°C healthcare products that are also essentials that require special protection. Vaccines are normally shipped in active or passive containers and have much more restricted temperature ranges.
A true European product
CFG: Why does it have a French name if the founder is Italian?
MDG: I am half-Italian and half-German, and that’s why the solution was designed in Italy and is produced in Germany, but we also wanted to have a disruptive brand – something not comparable to other products on the market – so we called on Lemon Queen [based in France] to find something totally new. Something that seems not to have anything to do with the cargo industry. La Couverture is exactly what we were looking for. Something elegant that makes us stand out from all other products.
A sustainable product
CFG: How often can it be used?
It is a multi-use solution, so there is no limit. It depends on how the cover is handled. The two GPS devices inside have a lifetime of 3 years, but they can be purchased separately and replaced after 3 years. We also have a repair station network that will support our customers in the event of any accidental damage. So, it truly is a multi-use item of equipment.
CFG: What is it made of? How does it fit into the Circular Economy?
It goes totally against the consumables concept. It can be reused for many years and it is also repairable. The concept is: buy it, use it as long as possible. Also, the insulated material inside comes from 192.5 recycled PET bottles. See the diagram below for more details on its composition:
A totally new solution
CFG: How does La Couverture stand out from competitors?
MDG: It is a totally new solution developed specifically for airport handling needs. This means that all the features of the product are built to fulfil ground handling challenges regarding temperature-sensitive products on the airfield. No other solution on the market does this because La Couverture is a hybrid thermal solution halfway between a standard thermal cover and a thermal dolly. It offers a level of protection near to that of a thermal dolly but without all the initial investment and without the usage and maintenance costs. It takes the form of a cover, but it is much more reliable and offers much higher performance than standard thermal covers. This makes it a thermal solution that offers much better value for money. Also, it is made of innovative materials: we sewed 22kg of special cooling element (Phase Change Materials) at +25°C into the top and the two unique IoT GPS devices ensure that the location of the cover around the airport can always be identified by simply looking at the app.
Fascinating! Thank you, Marco Del Giudice.
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