Glatt does not just sell machines, we provide unique solutions to customers’ requirements

Mirko Nowak, Corporate Marketing, Glatt represents part of the third generation of the family-owned business started by his grandfather Werner Glatt in 1954. On a recent visit to India for PMEC 2018, Nowak, Thomas Hofmaier, Head of Business Unit Process Technology Pharma, Glatt and Anuvrat Singal, Executive Director, Glatt India Engineering spoke to Viveka Roychowdhury on their launches at PMEC 2018 and the trends they foresee for 2019 and beyond

What was the focus at PMEC India 2018?

Thomas Hofmaier, Head of Business Unit Process Technology Pharma, Glatt: This was Glatt’s sixth year at PMEC India. Our vision, strategy approach is that each year we show what is new in technology from a global point of view. Not only for India because we believe that the world has changed a lot so there should be no differentiation at all between the technology used in different countries, be it in the US, China or Germany. So we bring new technology to this show each year and communicate this to our customers here in India. This year we saw the heaviest attraction was for the TwinPro technology, which allows the fusion of two processes into one single machine: the classical high shear granulation line where the granules are made, followed by the drying, typically in a fluid bed dryer.

This unique process fusion unites our decades of process experience in high shear granulation with pioneering expertise in fluidised bed drying for the first time. Customers benefit: Removing wet sieving and product transfer eliminates a critical step. The result: significantly less process time and easier cleaning. Removing a complete machine unit also reduces the installation, building and running expenses while maintaining excellent function. So both quality and performance have been significantly improved in our TwinPro technology.

This (the TwinPro technology) is one big invention we worked on for five years which we launched at ACHEMA 2018 in Germany and we were proud to show it immediately at PMEC India 2018, for customers who are interested in getting high performance, better quality out of the system.

Secondly, globally, over the last ten years we’ve seen the clear move towards containment solutions, specially with manufacturing of hormones and high potent drugs. This is to protect the environment as well as the people working on the machines and also to avoid cross contamination issues. Complete containment solutions are the key and we see significant interest in India as well to go into such products and systems. This year we showed a complete integrated line, granulation line for small batches because typically these products are highly potent so the batches are small. We have optimised this operation to a very compact machine. Again, yield and transfer time is important. The less product loss you have, the better the performance. And you can imagine that if you have a small batch and a lot of product gets wasted inside the machine, the losses will be expensive. We improved the overall concept (of containment solutions) and we showed that at Pmec India as a technology from our factory out of Pune.

Thirdly, last year we showed a direct compression line in the area of continuous manufacturing because we strongly believe that cost, performance is also important for India. This year, we showed our newest development, MODCOS XS-line, the smallest continuous wet granulation line for process development  and feasibility studies on continuous processes. We saw there was demand to first test the formulation on a continuous line using as less product as possible. When something works continuously, and it needs a trial, you need a lot of material (during the testing). When you go with 50 kgs per hour and need to test it for a longer period, just doing the feasibility trial gets expensive.

So we developed a solution, which we can proudly call the smallest continuous (pharma manufacturing) device in the world. This too was launched at ACHEMA 2018 and then at PMEC here in India. Our product line is called MODCOS, for modular continuous system. Our differentiation is that because it is modular, you can combine it with different modules according to the need of the formulation/product and the customer. This differentiates us very strongly from competition.

The fourth highlight at the Pmec India show was the pelletising system for small batches. This is again part of the MODCOS system. This is a semi continuous process, where you continuosly have a high shear granulation with a vertical granulator. It then goes into a pellitiser, followed by a spheroniser, followed by two steps of pelletising in one continuous line. This is also for small batches for feasibility studies which can be then transferred from the 5 kg per hour to the bigger sizes like 800 kg per hour. At PMEC we showed the smallest compact line for R&D.

We also displayed the next generation of pilot scale drum coaters, the GCSi, the GC Pilot. We’ve displayed them over the past five years but we like to show the continuous improvement and new functionality of that machine. This machine sells quite well but we do not stop the development. We showed a complete closed (product) charging system. Again this is as per industry standards for completely contained systems. So this system is a completely closed system so the dust contamination to operators is kept to the minimum possible. That’s not a completely new technology but we showed some evolution…continuous improvement. We are happy that people are recognising that we are continuing (to introduce) new technologies

How important a market is India to Glatt, in terms of market size and share of global revenues?

Hofmaier: We are a family owned business company and we do not believe in (chasing market share. For us the question was not whether it is worth our while in India…it was…how we can establish leadership in terms of quality and service in this growing market.

What are the trends in 2019 to watch out for?

Hofmaier: We work on projects across the world and since India is a big pharma hub, we are engaged with quite a few pharma projects in this country.

Having worked for Glatt for about 30 years, the trend for us that I am observing is that the projects which we are receiving now are asking for more customised solutions. Not the typical standard formulations made in stainless steel batch sized vessels, with one single product going out of a factory. India is also now changing into a very innovative formulations provider and we provide the technology for that. So the orders are much more customised for a specific formulation. Which is why it is very important for us to show complete system integration capabilities.

So when Anuvrat (Singal, Executive Director, Glatt India Engineering) comes to us with an engineering design idea (for a particular client’s need), we would like to be very quick to serve with a customised solution. We at Glatt have a huge shelf of solutions from all over the world which we then put together. This is why it is important to have good relations with other (solution providers, equipment manufacturing) companies because it (manufacturing) doesn’t end with our solutions, it goes on to the next stage of the process which will be done on machines from other companies. We don’t work with these companies exclusively but we share our knowledge with them.

Anuvrat Singal:  We are a projects driven company and we will go where the projects are. Glatt is of course at the forefront when it comes to powder and powder processing but we are also quite strong from the engineering consultancy perspective in everything to do with pharma, biotech, chemical and medical devices. We have project references in insulin projects, monoclonal antibodies, medical devices, API’s. Not just in India but in South East Asia, Middle East, CIS nations, US, Africa….etc.

From an engineering perspective, one of the unique things we have observed is that the industry does not want to go horizontal, but vertical. Land is a very valuable resource, not just in India but across the world. Glatt has some very unique concepts from a technology point of view where they can use Mother Nature to our benefit. For example, if you are using 4-5 tonne of material in a day, then gravity can be used to your benefit. So a unique engineering design of the facility along with a unique equipment concept comes into play This is where we are able to collaborate with the other divisions within the Glatt group and give a complete solution to the customer – ‘one stop shop’. The API industry always followed the vertical concept but now we are seeing the same concept in more formulations and sterile facilities as well.

Hofmaier: As we are a family driven company, we also see value in our employees. We have a great team here in India, where not just the seniors but the younger engineers as well are very knowledgeable about the technology and variants of the projects. We do not sell just machines, we provide unique solutions to our customers’ specific requirements.

Herr Novak, as a representative of the founding family, what does the India market represent to you?

Mirko Nowak, Corporate Marketing: For us, India has always been an important market in the past and will get more important in the future as well. In today’s global and inter connected world, India’s requirement is changing. We strongly believe that adaptability of newer innovative technologies is growing in India now and we as Glatt are proud to be a part of India’s success story. We are delivering more and more bespoke solutions to the individual needs of our customer – precisely and efficiently implemented. Our focus is always the best solution for our customer’s specific request. We are quite honoured of our teams here in India. They are doing a great job of promoting our company’s products, increasing the number of projects out of India as well as delivering our philosophy – ‘integrated process solutions’. We are Glatt without limits…