Express Pharma

‘Our focus is to engineer local solutions for local market’

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Friedbert Klefenz, President, Bosch Packaging Technology and Ashok Gourish, Business Head, Bosch Packaging Technology, share their plans for the company’s growth path in the coming fiscal with Usha Sharma

How has the previous year been for Bosch Packaging (Global) and for the packaging industry (pharmaceuticals); in terms of growth, technological innovations and new developments?
Friedbert KlefenzFriedbert Klefenz:
The past year has been very satisfactory for Bosch Packaging Technology. We have been growing, with new companies joining the Bosch family. 2011 was a special year for us because ‘Interpack’, the largest global trade show for packaging machines, once again provided us with an opportunity to present our expertise to an international audience. For instance, the new MLF 4000 series for the filling and sealing of injection and infusion bottles. This new development is an optimised solution for total in-process control of filling weights.

Who are your pharma clients? What percentage of the company’s revenue does pharma packaging contribute?
Friedbert Klefenz:
They are prominent pharma companies. They are medium-sized companies as global players, as well as pharma laboratories and contract fillers. For us, the pharma sector is an important pillar. It generates around half of our order intake.

What impact is expected out of the investment at the plant in Verna, Goa? What are the various opportunities that the company wishes to explore in India?
Ashok GourishAshok Gourish:
The impact of our investment will be manifold. I will give you the three major ones: first of all, our new factory is required to allow us to grow as per our order intake situation and projections; our existing place is simply too small for our future. Secondly, going for our own factory brings final clarity to our customer and supplier base as well as for our employees about the location from where Bosch Packaging does business in India. Thirdly, it allows us to plan our business as per our needs and to manufacture and assemble equipment as per our very high standards and lean processes.

The size of the Indian market will eventually be big enough to allow for the local manufacturing of machinery throughout our portfolios. So, we regard this as our opportunity. This also fulfils the needs that an Indian pharma company in terms of packaging and process equipment has. Be it the equipment to produce media like WFI, PSG; process equipment to produce granules and powders, tablet compression and capsule filling machines, the complete product range in sterile liquid filling from ampoule to syringe; I could go on, there is basically no piece of equipment we can not produce for our customers. Our vision is to cater all those needs locally; as you may know we have started with the localisation of our vial filling portfolio to transform this vision into reality.

What would be the company’s focus (pertaining to the pharma industry) for India from the current year? What market strategies would be employed to garner a bigger share in the pharma packaging pie?
Ashok Gourish:
Our current focus is the equipment needed to fill and close vials, whereby we cater to the mid and high output range, offering a mid speed vial filler of up to 120/min and a high out filler of up to 400/min. Obviously we will also offer corresponding washers, tunnels and closing machines. Another focal area of ours is to support strongly our local service for imported machines. Even when you buy high cost equipment from Bosch Packaging in Europe, you will experience local service from local staff of excellent price/performance ratio. When it comes to marketing we apply the common set of instruments like the participation in trade shows, we hold customer events, place advertisements in the major magazines of the industry and try to be very close to our customer’s hearts with our well trained and gentle sales team. But our key focus, currently, is product-driven; we want to engineer local solutions for the local market!

What turns do you see the pharma packaging industry taking in the next five years (trends) in India and globally, keeping in mind new opportunities that would reveal themselves for companies like Bosch?
Ashok Gourish:
For India I see two major waves heading towards us. First, we will see a steep increase in the output of the Indian pharm industry supplying generic drugs abroad, in particular to the high cost countries in Europe and the US. Drugs worth a high double-digit billion dollars sales will go of patent within the next five years and India will certainly get a big chunk out of that new market as India currently holds an important market share of the total generic market. And we all know under how much cost pressure the healthcare systems of Europe and the US are already – a trend that will increase dramatically given the demographic trend of the western countries.

Secondly, the local pharma market faces decades of growth, which will mirror India’s long, long journey of economic ascent! Eventually, all 1.2 billion people of India will have access to proper healthcare, which will require the manufacturing of big volumes of drugs. Bosch can derive opportunities from those trends; to process and package those gigantic volumes of medicine, efficiently and as per the highest quality standards, world class equipment is needed. As per our slogan ‘invented for life’ it will be our pleasure to supply this equipment.

Friedbert Klefenz: Globally, there are four major trends to be observed in the pharma packaging industry: handling high-potency substances, preparing for personalised medicine, facing the demands for disposable components and fighting counterfeit pharma products.

High potency pharma products are on the rise. Subsequently, so is containment. Manufacturers need to pay more attention to the protection of all supply chain elements. Due to advances in oncology, the use of toxic-active and cytotoxic substances has increased in cancer treatment. Both employees and the drugs need to be protected through containment technologies. The risk of cross contamination also needs to be minimised by adhering to Good Manufacturing Practices. The solution lies in as little manual intervention as possible, which is done by employing automation and robot technology, as well as the use of barrier systems, CIP and WIP technologies.

The increasing demand for personalised medicine demands ever more flexible and versatile processing and packaging solutions. Because a larger variety of substances is handled, smaller batch sizes and more frequent changeovers are key to high-quality packaging. The latest filling and closing machines are able to handle different sizes of stoppers, caps and vials. The ability to switch between different filling lines further enhances flexibility.

Additionally to higher flexibility, the demand for disposable components is continuously increasing. Single-use dosing systems are easy to connect and operate, they are precise and safe, and allow significantly faster product changeovers. This trend results from industry safety regulations, along with the growing use of highly potent substances, and a shift towards smaller batch sizes. Disposable, pre-sterilised and pre-validated parts like hoses, product bags, filling needles and tubing can eliminate lengthy cleaning validation and the risk of contamination between batch runs.

Anti-counterfeiting is also a growing concern for pharma companies. Due to a rise in internet pharmacies and longer supply chains, the risk of counterfeit pharma products entering the markets is growing fast and needs to be counteracted by all industry players. Manufacturers will be challenged to implement tamper-evident, serialisation, authentication and track and trace technologies. Market-leading packaging experts offer Carton Printing Systems (CPS) modules for track and trace that are most accurate and easily integrated and ensure compliance with regulatory bodies.

Could you please tell us about the company’s journey in last 150 years and what are the milestones? 
Friedbert Klefenz: In 2011, the Bosch Group celebrated the 125th anniversary of the company’s establishment and the 150th birthday of its founder, Robert Bosch. 2011 also marks 150 years of packaging experience for Bosch Packaging Technology, starting with the foundation of the Hesser company in 1861. Today, Bosch Packaging Technology is a leading global supplier of processing and packaging technology for the pharma, food and confectionery industries. In the pharma area, key breakthroughs were the launch of continuous dry heat sterilisation and the HQL sterilising tunnel, helping customers boost efficiency. The development of isolation technology for ampoule filling and sealing machines in 1991 is another example, and this laid the cornerstone in the area of containment where Bosch has been successful ever since. One of our most recent developments is the PreVas disposable filling system. PreVas means pre-validated and assembled sterilised. The ready-to-install, fully qualified and validated solution reduces cleaning and maintenance costs and is ideal for handling highly potent substances.

In your opinion, what is the key to long-lasting business success?
Friedbert Klefenz:
Most pivotal to our success has been the long-term partnerships with our customers, based on our capacity for innovation, technical competence and reliability. For decades, we simply try to keep promises, as we also express with our motto “Packaged as Promised.” For decades we have literally been by our customers’ side due to our strong worldwide presence, not just with sales and services but with 31 production sites in 17 countries worldwide.

Tell us about the company’s latest achievements. What are the latest milestones of the company?
Friedbert Klefenz:
The spirit of invention has always been a driving force at Bosch. Our “Invented for Life” philosophy underlines the heart of our innovation strategy — we develop products and solutions that provide increased quality and safety as well as improved sustainability at all of our production sites. And yes of course, we mutually share R&D efforts both within the company and within the Bosch Group to achieve synergies. Cross-fertilisation of ideas and technology transfer are key to our success. I am pretty sure that you will not find this huge pool of R&D power anywhere else within the packaging machinery industry.

Recently, you took a step in the food and confectionery field by putting three of your business units together into one organisation, Bosch Packaging. What has been the result of this move? How has your experience been so far and what drove you to take this decision?
Friedbert Klefenz:
This step is a logical consequence among others of our mission to serve our customers globally as a one-stop provider. Both the food and confectionery industries offer synergies in R&D as well as in sales. According to our One-Stop-Shopping strategy the new business unit brings together existing operations in the confectionery and food industries to serve customer needs even more comprehensively. With this new unit we see a high growth potential – both in matured and emerging markets.

At present, how many pharma companies are being catered to by Bosch? What are services that you offer them?
Ashok Gourish:
We offer full fledged service support to our client base locally, which comprise all major Indian pharma companies and the internationals, who entered India. Our service package includes break-down support, delivery of size and spare parts, which nowadays can be ordered easily by our clients via the internet on the e-portal and of course trainings to varying extends as per the needs of our customers.

What are your expansion plans for 2012-2013?
Ashok Gourish:
Our next expansion is scheduled for 2015, if the business develops as per our respective planning. Nonetheless, the design of our facility gives us very high flexibility; within six months we could double our capacity if the business requirements demand it. 

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