ACG Films & Foils, recently became a complete packaging solution provider for oral solid dosage formulation with the launch of state-of-the-art lamination facility at Shirwal near Pune. SR Shivshankar, CEO, ACG Films & Foils spoke about the facility, challenges faced by the sector and company’s future plans
Recently ACG has launched state-of-art lamination facility at Shirwal. Brief us on that.
The new machine is a high precision machine with excellent process controls, ensuring the control of specification within the allowed global standards of the final product. By manufacturing the aluminium packaging laminates on this machine, ACG will be ensuring high productivity on the packing line at our customers’ end and minimal wastage and appropriate protection of end medicines as per the requirements of the end customers.
The technology of the machine is lacquering, laminating or a combination of both. With the high drying temperature and installation of a special dryer, we can produce lid foils and cold form laminates with identical performance as produced by our competitors in Europe. Yet another feature of the machine is that it is a combination two of the machines and has the capability to produce converting materials with a very good performance.
ACG entered this segment in 1993, how has the journey been so far? What are the challenges you came across these years?
The ACG films and foils business was started in 1993. It was started as a part of the capsules business but over a period of time it has been structured as a separate legal entity. We are the pioneers in introducing moisture-barrier and oxygen-barrier films for packaging of medicine in the Indian market. The objective was to improve the shelf-life and quality of the medicines being used by the end consumers in India. Over the past 25 years, we have introduced various innovative products for safe packaging of medicines at optimum cost which has made us a global player in this business.
Till 2009, our manufacturing was in the same facility as that of our capsules. In 2009, we set up this new factory for manufacturing high barrier polymer-based films. By setting up a state-of-the-art manufacturing unit in this same factory, our product range now includes aluminium foil laminates. This has made us the only manufacturer in India having the widest product basket for end-to-end solution for oral solid dosage packaging.
To reduce the number of counterfeit drugs in the market, ACG has anti-counterfeit solution. Can you brief us on that and how is it different from other anti-counterfeit solutions available in the market?
ACG has a special film laminate which uses holographic effect. The process of lamination is a specially designed and patented process which cannot be replicated. In addition to this, we are developing other alternatives also for anti-counterfeiting.
How do you see the growth of films and foils industry in India?
India is estimated to become 6th largest pharma market by 2022. The blister packing industry will grow at the rate of 6 to 7 per cent in the global markets up to 2020. We expect the growth in India to be higher than this. Usually packaging constitutes only around 2-3 per cent of the total price of the drug but packaging has a high impact on the quality of the final medicine.
What are the regulatory issues / challenges faced by the sector and how ACG is dealing/ overcoming them?
The films and foils industry is constantly seeking higher quality standards required by the pharmaceutical packaging business especially all the overseas markets in which these companies operate. ACG is well geared up to constantly meet these challenges by offering newer products which cater to such needs. The sector faces challenges not just in terms of producing a technically superior product but also in meeting the constantly changing regulatory demands. Towards this, ACG acquired the ISO 15378 certification for GMP in primary packaging which is now being mandated by most global customer. All of ACG’s products also have a DMF TYPE III filing which is a regulatory requirement of most pharma customers who operate globally.
The company also exports to major markets. How much revenue comes from exports? Are you also planning to enter new markets?
The first step in this is to implement local warehousing, supply chain, manufacturing in various global markets. In parallel to have a complete product basket for high barrier packaging material which will provide protection to the medicines manufactured by our esteemed customers.
We have local warehousing in China, Thailand, Indonesia and Argentina. We have local partners for converting and slitting of our jumbo rolls in Europe and the US. In Brazil, we have got local manufacturing. All the above points dovetail into our overall strategy for becoming a globally preferred supplier for films & foil. Currently, the contribution of exports to our total revenue is around 45 per cent and we are evaluating several new markets to enter.
What are your further expansion plans and how are you planning to strengthen your foot print in domestic and global markets?
At this point of time where customer centricity is one of our prime objectives, we are adding operations near to our customers in the markets of Europe, the US, LATAM and in Siliguri, West Bengal, India. The strategy of films & foils is to become a global preferred supplier over the next three to five years to pharma customers in all the major overseas market including the regulated markets of Europe and the US.
What are the company’s future plans?
Our immediate objective is to provide our customers high quality Alu laminates from this new machine. We are also introducing new innovative barrier packaging based on Alu and polymer films which will assist our customer in packaging their medicines more effectively.
We have conceptualised environmental-friendly packaging products to help reduce the carbon footprint and anti-counterfeit products and once the prototype is internally validated, we will be ready for initial trials and evaluation by customers.
Brief us on the products that are in pipeline of 2018-19.
We are investing in a new coating line for our high barrier PVdC films which will be commissioned within the next one year. Additionally, in our Brazil plant, we will be laminating our high barrier film Aclar since we are the approved converter for this product for Honeywell USA. We will also manufacture PVdC films in the coating machine to be set up in Brazil. In the aluminium business, we will offer a whole new range of products which will cater to the demands of the pharma industry which was hitherto dependent on imports.