Reinventing cold chain logistics for Pfizer

In 2021 the world was in the grip of the COVID-19 pandemic. Pfizer/BioNTech had produced the world’s first vaccine - but it needed to be stored and transported at ultra-low temperatures to remain effective.  With such prescriptive storage requirements, real-time temperature monitoring in transit would be paramount.

As billions of vaccines were prepared for distribution across the globe, logistics company Controlant were called in to ensure the safe delivery of effective vaccines.

Controlant’s reusable, real-time data loggers integrated with Pfizer’s control tower technologies to help manage temperature proactively. As the global distribution programme for the new vaccine ramped up, Controlant needed to scale production of these devices - fast.



The Challenge

Two key components for the temperature data logger were proving costly and complex to manufacture at scale. Controlant needed a partner to help value engineer their designs and accelerate production to meet global demand:

  • Components needed value engineering

  • Manufacturing process was manual

  • Manufacturing costs were excessive

  • Labour shortage was impacting delivery

Controlant empower the world’s leading pharmaceutical companies to reduce waste and ensure patient safety through real-time visibility and digital transformation.


The Solution

First, ESCATEC were bought in to value engineer costly and inefficient component designs. The NPI team at ESCATEC applied DFM (Design for Manufacturing), to isolate multiple product enhancements and improve the effectiveness of the data loggers.

Modifications were shared with the client and designs prepared for the next stage. The entire turnaround time from receiving the initial designs to making recommended changes took less than two weeks.


Next, ESCATEC set up new production lines staffed with qualified personnel to scale up production in record time. They purchased new machinery and prepared jigs and fixtures.  They identified, implemented and validated required quality processes.


Finally, they automated critical parts of their soldering, screwing and gluing process to scale up production and accelerate delivery time. 

The start of mass production was hugely challenging. Further modifications of the designs were required, some processes had to be revamped while machinery and equipment had to be further calibrated.  

The Results

In the teeth of the pandemic ESCATEC were able to support the rapid scaling of component manufacture to facilitate the largest and fastest global vaccine roll out in human history. 

With recruitment curtailed by lockdowns, ESCATEC office staff were drafted in to help on the assembly lines while automation was expedited.


At the height of demand the facility was producing 170,000 units per month for Controlant, supporting the delivery of hundreds of millions of vaccines across the world with a reported 99.99% success rate.


  • Rapid scaling of IoT component production in the teeth of the pandemic.

  • Beat global labour shortage through skilful recruitment and automation.

  • Value engineered existing components to save money and production time.

  • Achieved major cost savings while maintaining quality.