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Selecting a cold chain packaging solution: how does it affect the TCO ?

Standard or made-to-measure insulated packaging? Mono-configuration or multi-configuration basis? When drawing up the specifications, multiple factors may affect the TCO. Jรฉrรฉmy Clerfeuille, Head of the Design Office at Sofrigam, provides us with some genuine examples.

Reminder: the TCO enables the estimate of the total cost of a temperature-controlled packaging solution

The "Total Cost of Ownership" is a financial estimate which determines the direct and indirect costs generated by the ownership and use of a system. It enables the evaluation of the total financial impact of a decision to purchase and thus allows you to make the correct choice. 

Although the purchase price is an important and easily identifiable factor, the life cycle analysis of an insulated package reveals that other associated costs can have a sizeable effect on the total cost of a product: load time, mode of transport, weight, etc. 

In essence, the purchase price only represents part of the total solution implementation cost: this is only the tip of the iceberg. 


Pharmaceutical insulated packaging, optimisation of cold chain logistics costs, refrigerated transportation of pharmaceutical products.

The TCO (total cost of ownership) of an insulated shipping packaging solution


Made-to-measure or standard? The type of package design affects the TCO

Insulated and refrigerated box, pharmaceutical insulated packaging design, cold chain insulated solutions.

Made-to-measure or standard insulated packaging; how does it affect the TCO


Sofrigam offers two types of insulated solutions:  

  • A made-to-measure insulated box which perfectly adapts to the specifications requested but which does necessitate a development stage.
  • Standard packaging which best satisfies the specifications requested.


Below are the advantages of the two solutions with their different effects on the TCO:

Type of configuration Advantages Effect on TCO
Made-to-measure development Optimal size and performance based on the specifications Optimal preparation and transportation costs
Standard product Solution immediately available No envisaged development costs


Mono-configuration or multi-configuration? The package configuration affects the TCO

In a previous article, we provided the consequences of the selection of a mono-configuration or multi-configuration package. The mono-configuration package includes just one preparatory protocol whereas the multi-configuration package includes multiple preparatory protocols based upon the season during which it is sent or the destination. 


Below are the advantages of the two solutions with their effects on the TCO: 

Type of configuration Purchase price Advantages Effect on TCO
Mono-configuration lower
  • Significant thermal inertia
  • Single load protocol
  • Limited temperature fluctuation management costs
  • Limited risk of cold chain break
Multi-configuration higher
  • Immediate load
  • Better external volume/net volume ratio
  • Optimal weight
Optimal preparation and transportation costs


It is essential to understand the technical and economic challenges associated with the selection of performance criteria and the use of the cold chain thermal packaging solution. Ask yourself the important questions when drawing up the specifications.