Ray Pidock, Director of Cold Chain, EFP, LLC
Ray Pidock, Director of Cold ChainSensitive pharmaceutical and life science products demand stable, reliable, and quality cold chain packaging that ensures utmost safety. Cold chains, both short and long, need apt, cost-efficient solutions to protect the integrity of products in transit. According to Future Market Insights (FMI), the global cold chain packaging market is set to grow at over 14.5 percent CAGR during the forecast period between 2020 and 2030. It is clear from these statistics that cold chain packaging manufacturers are well-positioned to unlock new opportunities to increase sales and revenues.

However, the story was different back in 2008. The package testing was unscientific, and many pharma wholesale distribution customers had limited qualifications of their cold chain packaging systems. At that time, USP 1079, which was emerging as the first true guidance in performance expectations, gave everyone who touched the product a share of the responsibility for temperature compliance. To this end, EFP—a company specializing in expanded polystyrene (EPS) molding, fabrication, and cold chain solutions—was able to match USP 1079’s requirements by developing the documentation or pedigree for its protective packaging. This documentation allowed drug companies to approve the packaging for EFP’s clients, including pharmacists and pharma distributors. In fact, EFP was one of the first companies to create packaging with supporting Operational Qualification documentation for thermal and physical performance.

With a strong presence in cold chain packaging, design, and compliance testing for pharma and food distribution industries, EFP—a 60-year-old company—has continuously evolved its Temperature Solutions group into a full-service cold chain packaging solution provider. The company started out by molding EPS and entered the cold chain packaging market in 2008 to become one of the first EPS molders to manage a cold chain division. Today, the company provides purpose-built cold chain packaging systems for pharma, clinical trials, and other life science applications. EFP is an independent business unit of J. B. Poindexter & Co. Inc., and its leadership team controls its destiny with the help of a Parent who wants all the BU’s to be leaders in their market. “We are a cold chain packaging company. EFP is an EPS molder and fabricator who understands cold chain packaging and helps customers stay up to date in this changing regulatory environment. We work with pharmaceutical companies, including pharmaceutical wholesalers, distributors and 3PLs. EPS coolers for food applications is an important market segment. Our reliable partners provide the components and services that complete our line,” remarks Ray Pidock, Director of Cold Chain at EFP.

Reimagining Cold Chain Packaging

Backed by a talented team with extensive expertise and industry experience, the company provides the best, customized products instead of cookie-cutter solutions. “As an innovator, partner, trusted advisor to our clients, we serve as a one-stop cold chain shop with design and testing capabilities—all nine yards.

EFP, LLC: One-Stop Cold Chain Shop for Sustainable EPS Packaging

Our journey is not over by any stretch, but we've gotten to the point where we are recognized as a cold chain packaging design leader in the pharmaceutical distribution line,” says Pidock.

As an innovator, partner, trusted advisor to our clients, we serve as a one-stop cold chain shop with design and testing capabilities—all nine yards

Pidock explains that temperature data acquisition has evolved, and accurate temperature and time recording will help package designers build more reliable packaging systems. This may result in reducing the size and weight of packaging, lowering the carbon footprint from manufacturing through final delivery. EFP has developed a program to conduct ship tests and record accurate data, which can be used to requalify the new designs.

“Our key market space has two major spend areas: packaging and freight. The market volatility in these two cost drivers can have a devastating impact on their bottom line. End-user pressure to replace current insulation (EPS, PUR, VIP) with a more sustainable insulating material is emerging as the third driver,” says Pidock. To this end, EFP takes a proactive approach that focuses on three core objectives—simple, intuitive pack-outs; a favorable ratio of product volume to packaging material and sizing to reduce SKUs (stock keeping unit); and dimensional weight. The company is working with new materials to reduce the environmental impact of packaging—biodegradable EPS, recycling EPS back into the raw material stream, drain-safe gel materials, and renewable insulation materials.

The 3PL pharma distribution segment faces a unique set of issues than the wholesalers; in most cases, each SKU in their warehouse has its own pre-qualified packaging. EFP understands that this results in more packaging in the building than product and works with customers to create a standard packaging that can be used with multiple clients’ products. This advantage creates a revenue stream for the 3PL companies as well as improved performance and reduced cost for clients.

Excellence at the Core

With a vision to provide simple, effective, and economical solutions to customers, EFP designs from the inside out—working from the smallest product container and creating a package that meets the customer’s time and temperature performance criteria. The company then works from the outside in, fine-tuning dimensionally for transit options. The company also helps customers with lane testing to ensure that the packaging performs as designed in the real world—the Performance Qualification. Once commercialized, EFP re-qualifies its system every two years to adhere to its manufacturing processes. Unlike several cold chain package design companies that purchase many of the materials used in these designs, EFP has an ISTA/ISO-certified lab to provide one-stop shopping for reliable, economical cold chain packaging systems. The company owns its cold chain tools and supplements the molding with gel packs, bricks, and alternate insulation materials.

EFP has engaged in a program to expand geographic reach and locate its manufacturing proximate to customers. The company has now located its most popular shipper sizes in five different states. This, combined with a growing number of forward-deployed inventory locations–each housing gel manufacturing, product assembly, and alternate insulation manufacturing–ensures that customers receive the same product and patients/end-customers receive the same packaging and instructions no matter where it comes from. EFP’s Evansville, IN facility is the newest and most state-of-the-art EPS molding facility in the U.S., and the company plans to copy that footprint in three new areas by 2022. Along with this, EFP will add seven new forward-deployment locations in the same time frame. With sights set on a promising future, the company aims to expand across the nation. Cold chain packaging continues to grow; products get more complex, and demand for qualified, compliant packaging systems increases every year. EFP is perfectly poised for growth in both breadth of products and geographic reach. “The Poindexter companies pride themselves for being independently operated with a powerful and generous Parent. We have the revenue and the parent to fuel our growth. We will need an influx of talented people in a variety of skilled positions to support our continued success,” notes Pidock.