Megan Williamson, Head of Sales, Americas Datwyler elaborates how Datwyler is gearing up to meet the requirements of pharma companies developing COVID-19 vaccines across the globe. She also talks about the company’s business strategies and plans for the future, in an interaction with Usha Sharma
What are the challenges you foresee with the development of COVID-19 vaccines? How can they be tackled?
In the current pandemic landscape, two of the greatest challenges have to be the speed required to bring these vaccines and treatments to market, and the volumes needed on short notice, given the global impact of the virus.
It is of the utmost importance to choose a supplier that is responsive, agile and flexible. Given that many of the basic components required to package a vaccine are comparable in terms of performance, what will truly set a supplier apart, in this instance, is their ability to absorb this unprecedented demand within the expedited timeframe.
Pre-pandemic, over the course of the last three years, Datwyler has made significant investments in global capacity expansion and continuous quality improvements, inadvertently positioning us to be uniquely prepared to support our pharma partners during this extraordinary moment in history.
There is a sense of urgency for ancillary supplies of COVID-19 vaccine. Please share your understanding of it
There is certainly a sense of justified urgency around the supply chain of our components in order to support our pharma partners who are developing the COVID–19 vaccines and treatments. As they move at faster-than-normal-speeds in order to get vaccines and treatments to the market as soon as possible, we need to be able to do the same – and that means being agile and flexible. Fortunately, we have been expanding our manufacturing capacity with the addition of a brand new plant in Middletown, Delaware, US, and an expansion of our Pune, India facility that has doubled its size. Additionally, we are in the process of investing in expanded capacity for our fluoropolymer spray-coated products—such as plungers and stoppers for prefilled syringes and cartridges, for which we have seen a significant increase in demand the last few months – both for existing products and for new development projects.
How well is Datwyler geared up to ensure uninterrupted supply of critical components required by COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers? Have you received any bulk orders from any COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers/developers?
With the addition of Datwyler’s new and expanded global manufacturing facilities, we are prepared to take on significant volumes from our pharma partners who are working on COVID-19 vaccines and treatments. Of course, this capacity isn’t unlimited, and we’re working very closely with our clients to keep a transparent view on their upcoming needs so that we can make the appropriate investments. Our management stays close to each project and with the help of our global supply and demand department, we are monitoring every step of our supply chain – from raw materials, to bags, to personnel, to equipment – to ensure that we are equipped to support our existing customers and their needs, as well as the new COVID-19 related projects in the pipeline.
Yes, we have received bulk orders from some of our pharma partners who are working on these vaccines and treatments. We have found that those who are able to be transparent and execute quickly (i.e. through purchase orders or other contractual agreements) have secured the volumes they need without constraints.
What are the measures that need to be taken to ensure zero defects as well as transparent channels of communication between key parties? To avoid any kind of contaminants in the packaging for the upcoming COVID-19 vaccine, what are the preventive measures that Datwyler has initiated during its manufacturing process?
This is a great question. As our pharma partners work at a fast pace, they need products, services, and supply with the least risk. For these types of projects, Datwyler is able to support with components coming from our FirstLine manufacturing facilities. We have three FirstLine production locations placed strategically around the world to serve the local markets – in the United States, in Europe, and in India (to serve Asia-Pacific).
Datwyler’s FirstLine facilities are designed to enhance the high-quality product offerings by manufacturing in a highly-automated, GMP environment with a zero-defect philosophy. Datwyler’s most advanced manufacturing standard, FirstLine, is specially designed to manufacture pharma rubber components for high-end pharma and biotech markets in a fully integrated cleanroom environment conforming to the highest industry standards. The FirstLine manufacturing concept is based on ultra-modern cleanroom technology, automated production cells, fully automated camera inspection, and a unique validated washing process.