Increasing COVID-19 Sample Collection Device Production 4-Fold, From 500K/Week To 2 Million/Week

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Increasing COVID-19 Sample Collection Device Production 4-Fold, From 500K/Week To 2 Million/Week

Fri Jul 24, 2020

Introduction COVID transport kit

With the world facing a pandemic, delivering fast and accurate test kits became crucial. Government and diagnostics companies (existing and newcomers) raced to develop and manufacturer fast and accurate tests. As millions of tests were being delivered a critical bottleneck emerged, there were not enough proper sample collection media available to transport the samples from the collection site to the testing laboratories. 

One transport medium company implored by the US Government to increase production discovered they could create 500,000 devices a week through existing partners and technologies, but were struggling to overcome the issues required to increase production an additional 3-4 fold to match their demand. That was when Sonic Packaging was asked to help.



One advantage of working with Sonic is working through the Learn and Share process, which is part of their due diligence of listening and sharing innovative ideas. This process starts with a list of standard questions.

Here are a few examples. Are you aware of, or would you be interested in the latest packaging innovations? What are the critical issues? Are you using the right packaging technology? What are the regulatory issues? Where were the production bottlenecks and pain points? Are there any supply chain issues? What are the logistical concerns? If there are different possible packaging options, what is the cost/benefit analysis for each?

In most cases, the answers to these questions lead to more complex questions and may require additional research. These second-level questions and answers allow Sonic to make more concrete recommendations about the feasibility of each option. With the COVID-19 Test Kit, one of the first issues to overcome was the supply chain issues with the cryotubes.

Fortunately, the Department of Health and Human Services collaborated with Oak Ridge National Lab to identify manufacturers to address the shortage. The solution came from a group of independent soda bottle manufacturers working for Coca-Cola that determined that, with some minor changes to the molding machine that made Coke bottles, they could make a better test tube for the COVID-19 testing kits.

Solving the supply chain issues only created new challenges to overcome. The new Coke tubes were a different size and required a changeover and redesign of the production lines to accommodate the tubes in the filling process. Sonic contacted their cGMP FDA registered production partners to request this changeover to conform to the new form factor.

Typically, this is considered a “big ask” or a large request requiring months to complete but the Sonic partners completed the changeover in weeks. Other issues were identified and solved, including redesigning the labels, inkjet printing warnings on caps, and of course, ensuring compliance with the quality, regulatory, and shipping concerns.



Time is always important within the pharmaceutical industry and even more critical during a pandemic. Working with Sonic helped this lab overcome supply chain issues, labeling, and warning issues, and reduce the change over time from months to weeks. As a result, the lab increased its capacity from 500,000/week to 2,000,000+/week and is talking to Sonic about innovative solutions for other products.


The Sonic Advantage

Overcoming production problems quickly, innovating solutions, and delivering high quality single or multi-dose delivery systems is the Sonic Way. The Sonic process is based on years of experience innovating package design. This process begins with a simple Learn and Share meeting.

Done over the phone, online, or in-person this process can help identify new and innovative packaging options that are intuitive, cost-effective, efficient to manufacture and package, and allow significant increases in volume, similar to this 10-fold increase in capacity reported in this case history. To schedule a Learn and Share meeting, click the link within the form on our website or call 201-666-4744.