Earlier this year, Cardinal Health (NYSE:CAH) became one of the first healthcare companies to partner with Ember Technologies (Westlake Village, California), a developer of temperature-controlled mugs.
At the heart of the partnership is not a smart mug but the Ember Cube, a self-refrigerated, cloud-based shipping container.
Cardinal plans on first using the Ember Cube to ship temperature-sensitive biologics in a customer pilot this year.
“We’re super excited. This is a really innovative journey that we’re on with Ember,” said Joel Wayment, vice president of operations at Cardinal Health Third Party Logistics Services.
The first version of the Ember Cube was designed for products that must be stored at 2–8°C. Cryogenic and ultracold versions are in the works.
One of the problems the reusable Ember Cube could tackle is reducing the waste of traditional cold-chain shippers, which are simple in design but end up in the landfill after use.
“Often, they look like a Styrofoam corrugated shipper that you put ice bricks and gels into,” Wayment said. “They’re tested and validated to hold a particular temperature for a certain amount of time.”
The Ember Cube could provide more accurate temperature stability than traditional insulated shippers, which are designed to hold products within a given temperature range such as 2–8°C for 36, 48 or 72 hours.
Because the Ember Cube is sensor-enabled and cloud-connected, it can report statistics such as temperature, location and battery life in real-time via an online dashboard.
“If there is disruption, I can manage it without risking the product,” Wayment said. “We’ll have greater visibility and transparency about a product in transit.”
Once a healthcare provider receives a shipment of medicine, the Ember Cube wirelessly notifies the logistics company that the empty containers are ready for pickup with GPS coordinates of the location. The devices also can create shipping labels via their e-ink screen.
Cardinal Health plans on beginning a customer pilot involving the Ember Cube later this year.