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SCHOTT Glass: Aiming high

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With the increasing demand for glass tubing, SCHOTT Glass India is investing in a new unit at its existing manufacturing site at Jambusar, Gujarat. Besides, the company also aims to expand its presence in China. Thus it is on an accelerated growth path. By Usha Sharma

Over the years, there is a growing role and significance of the Indian pharmaceutical industry in the global pharma markets. Similarly, we have also seen several global players investing or partnering with Indian firms, as a result of the ruling government’s industry-friendly policies. One such instance is of German-origin glass tubing manufacturing specialist company Schott’s investment of approximately ` 180 crore through its Indian subsidiary SCHOTT Glass India to set up a new pharma tubing tank facility at its existing manufacturing site in Jambusar district, Gujarat. The Jambusar plant currently is a production hub for SCHOTT pharma tubing for Asia, and through its 100 per cent subsidiary in India, has one manufacturing site in Jambusar, and sales offices in Mumbai and Pune. Construction of the new facility is ongoing and it is expected to commence commercial production by early 2020.dji_0024 dji_0119

However, the company has been present in India for around two decades and it started its business operations in 1998 by acquiring a company producing pharma tubing in Jambusar. Recalling the initial days with the company 20 years ago, Dr Patrick Markschlaeger, Executive Vice President, SCHOTT, Business Unit Tubing highlights, “We started our journey in India by bringing in our best technologies to turn the existing site into a world-class manufacturing site. For us, there couldn’t have been a better place than Gujarat in terms of work atmosphere, infrastructure and access to raw materials, including energy.” Since then, it has grown from strength to strength and the new facility in Jambusar is the most recent feather in its cap.

Government impetus

It also explains why they chose to set up their new manufacturing facility as well at Jambusar. Markschlaeger says, “The state government has been very supportive of the pharma industry in Gujarat, which is evident from the growth of the sector in the state.”

He further elaborates, “With the introduction of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) last year, things have become more streamlined, and Gujarat has become even more lucrative as a manufacturing hub. In fact, according to the Indian Drug Manufacturers’ Association (IDMA), Gujarat contributes to around 33 per cent of the national pharma production, and this share is expected to move up to 40 per cent by 2020. We feel encouraged by the current Indian government’s ‘Make in India’ and ‘Vibrant Gujarat’ initiatives that are supporting companies like ours to strive for better infrastructure and ease of doing business.”

Partnering progress

The company’s recent business expansion plans also support the government’s ‘Make in India’ campaign and ‘Vibrant Gujarat’ initiatives, as the company’s new facility will generate more investment and employment in the state. Markschlaeger informs, “We currently have around 350 employees and 100 contract workers working at the plant in Jambusar. The new tank will provide jobs for at least 70 additional local workers.”

Moreover, the upcoming facility will play a key role in the company’s plans to tap the Asian markets. The company is very gung ho on growth as it believes that there are tremendous opportunities for growth in this segment and industry reports confirm this fact. As per a market research report by Grand View Research, the global pharma glass packaging market size was estimated at $12.84 billion in 2016. It is projected to witness a CAGR of 6.3 per cent from 2017 to 2025 and India is one of the key markets for pharma glass packaging markets in Asia. These numbers reveal that there is a huge requirement for the glass tubing in the pharma sector, and Schott Tubing has a major role in meeting these requirements. Markschlaeger informs, “In general, SCHOTT Tubing has a significant market share in the global pharma tubing sector, in which India has a vital role to play.”

The company’s presence of nearly two decades in India has established it as a trusted partner for major pharma companies and helped it grow despite the entry of other solutions. But, how do they plan to continue being a leader in this space? So, which are the products and solutions that provide the company with a competitive edge over its peers and how are they right to meet the constantly evolving demands of the pharma industry?

An eclectic product portfolio

For ages, the Indian pharma packaging market was dominated by the glass packaging, which has also witnessed considerable competition from plastic manufacturers over the years. So, how has SCHOTT ensured that its clientele continues to prefer their glass solutions? Why should they choose glass packaging over plastic solutions?

Markschlaeger answers these questions and says, “An unmatched combination of our high-quality production standards, truly global footprint and technological expertise has established SCHOTT as a market leader, globally as well as in India.”
He further elaborates on a few of their renowned and widely-used products, “When it comes to choosing a suitable primary packaging for drugs, pharma companies have relied on FIOLAX pharma containers for over 100 years. This type I borosilicate glass features high hydrolytic resistance, hence preserving the efficacy of medicine and reducing the risk of a potential drug/container interaction. It is because of its specifications that borosilicate glass is used to package a number of drugs including highly sensitive drug formulations.” Thus, its existing products and their quality have continued to keep their clientele happy and content.

Moreover, it has adopted newer technologies from Germany to meet the growing demands of the Indian market. Markschlaeger points out, “India serves as an ideal example for Industry 4.0 – the current trend of automation and data exchange in manufacturing technologies. The Indian plant showcases main elements of a ‘smart factory’ through path-breaking technologies like- perfeXion. For example, last year, SCHOTT implemented perfeXion in Jambusar — the new era of quality processing to achieve exceptional quality control standards for its FIOLAX pharma glass tubing. perfeXion uses state-of-the-art cameras and lasers to pinpoint potential defects along the production line. By harnessing big data, we have moved from a statistical sample-based quality-control process to 100 per cent inspection of each FIOLAX tube.”

SCHOTT’s pharma packaging experts also see a few trends in the primary packaging industry itself. For example, an increase in formulations with sensitive and complex molecule structures, e.g. biotech drugs, which require innovative packaging solutions to ensure drug stability. Another trend shaping the industry is the move from hospital to home care to enable patients to self-administer the drugs in an environment they feel most comfortable in. Such patterns require the containers and subsequently the tubing to have highly accurate dimensions, especially regarding the inside diameter. We achieve this through perfeXion, which allowed us to step into a new era of quality processing.”

Growth strategies for India

With these products, the company has captured significant market presence in India, and with its recent ` 180 crore investment at Jambusar, it intends to increase it production capacity by 50 per cent. The increased capacity will not only cater to the increasing domestic demands but also to the need for high-quality pharma glass tubing in other Asian markets.

Markschlaeger explains about the features of the new facility and its advantages, “With an additional tank facility, SCHOTT will also build new construction for energy supply, workshops and warehouse. Additionally, there will be an expansion of storage for energy, engineering and logistics infrastructure within the plant. With our production capacity set to increase by another 50 per cent through the new plant, we look forward to the coming years for catering to the industry’s increasing requirements (both domestic and international) for quality pharma packaging glass material. As part of the production network within SCHOTT’s Tubing business unit, the new tank will be built and equipped with all latest state-of-the-art machinery as used in all other tubing factories worldwide.”

However, glass manufacturing is a process which requires continuous power supply. And hence the design of its new facility also has a provision for solar power generation to meet its requirements and complement electric power supply. Commenting on the company’s investments on solar power panels, Markschlaeger says, “It involves heavy investment but the state government is encouraging companies to do so and it will add value to our facility as well. It will help us in fulfilling the customers need without any interruption.”

Summing up the company’s expansion plans for the Indian market by this year end, he says, “For pharma tube production, the Jambusar plant is considered as a manufacturing hub for its demands in the fast-growing Asian markets. This is a big advantage for our India activities in terms of investment, lead time and availability of a trained workforce.”

Going forward

While it is fortifying its presence and foothold in the Indian market, SCHOTT has also signed an investment agreement to build a production site in China to further meet local needs there. Thus, the company has an ambitious growth plan in place, and is on an accelerated path to progress.

How perfeXion & FIOLAX really work?

PerfeXion, process control and integrated data management system works as an integrated network for real-time collection and evaluation of the data. More than 100,000 data tags per minute are collected in this system. All this generates valuable data for controlling and stabilising the tubing production process. Talking more about the features of perfeXion, Markschlaeger says, “We now offer an improved product with superior auditability and traceability for the pharma industry. This also allows us to customise the specification of the glass tubing according to specific needs of the container format. perfeXion uses state-of-the-art cameras and lasers to pinpoint potential defects along the production line.

SCHOTT also offers pharma glass tubing products and services to its regional and international customers. Its main product, FIOLAX borosilicate glass tubing, has grown to become the gold standard ‘raw material’ for glass containers in the global pharma industry. Revealing more about the concept of FIOLAX tubing, he highlights, “Our main product, FIOLAX borosilicate glass tubing, has grown since 1911 to become the gold standard ‘raw material’ for glass containers in the global pharma industry. Known for unmatched quality, our packaging material is the first preference for most of India’s leading pharma companies. Thanks to its high hydrolytic resistance, FIOLAX neutral glass tubing preserves the efficacy of medicine and reduces the risk of interaction with packaging to a minimum.” FIOLAX is used to manufacture high-quality vials, syringes, ampoules and cartridges, which are then filled with injectable drugs.

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