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Glatt India: Leading by example

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(From Lto R) Anuvrat Singal, Reinhard Boeber, Jay Novak and Bernd Kreyer at the Glatt India office in Delhi

In 1954, Werner Glatt laid down the foundation of Glatt in Binzen Germany, and five years later in 1959, pioneered the design and manufacture of their first fluid bed machine for the pharmaceutical industry. His aim to continuously improve the state-of- the-art and his credo of having only satisfied customers is the reason that today the company proudly boasts of 1800 employees, 20 subsidiaries and various sales representatives worldwide alongwith a presence in the food, feed and fine chemical industry verticals as well. It has a global presence with offices in the US, the UK, Russia, India and Switzerland.

Uwe Höhn, Thuringian Minister for Economy, Labour and Technology inaugurating the Delhi office alongwith Reinhard Boeber

The company is divided into four business units(BUs)- 1) process technology and equipment 2)product development and contract manufacturing 3) process and plant engineering validation/qualification including process technology and equipment 4) contract manufacturing. While all of them are growing at a steady rate, the pharma equipment manufacturing unit i.e. BU I is the highest grossing unit followed by BU III. The reason is simple- sales of pharma equipment is far greater than non-pharma equipment.

From strength to strength

“I believe this set up in India has the potential to be in the top if not the top pharma engineering consultancy, it is just a matter of time. We have a strong team of engineers who are able to work alongside their German counterparts and give excellent results. I hope that this set up will contribute a substantial amount to the revenue of Glatt Engineering globally few years down the line.”
Reinhard Boeber
Managing Director, Glatt

Glatt (India) Pharma Engineering, part of the third business unit, recently inaugurated its second office in New Delhi (the first one being in Mumbai). Having started operations in India in 2008, it specialises in the provision of consulting, engineering and plant supplies and services exclusively to the bio-pharma and pharma industry and has completed 10 projects so far. The company is currently working on three projects in Algeria, Angola and Saudi Arabia. Having an office in India, gives the company close proximity to its clients in Asia and better serve emerging economies. It makes business sense given that most MNC’s now have facilities in the country.

Chips in Bernd Kreyer, Head of Pharma Engineering, Glatt Ingenieurtechnik, “We are focussed on CIS, Russia, the Middle East, Asia and Africa. We believe that we have a competitive edge in these markets with an Indo-German collaboration offering the best of technology at an affordable price to our clients. We have to be flexible and look at the big picture, instead of concentrating on a few markets.” He cites how Egypt, was a big market for the company but is down after the Arab Spring. He is optimistic about Iran, which looks to be a promising market down the lane.

“We are focussed on CIS, Russia, Middle East, Asia and Africa. We believe we have a competitive edge in these markets with an Indo-German collaboration offering the best of technology at an affordable price to our clients.”
Bernd Kreyer
Head of Pharma Engineering, Glatt Ingenieurtechnik

The Delhi office currently serves India, Bangladesh, the Middle East and African markets. It recently bagged a green field project in Saudi Arabia with a total project CAPEX worth 70 million euros for which its services and equipment will be worth five million euros. The facility will include an oral dosage block and sterile block. The project is scheduled to be completed by the first quarter of 2015. Apart from this, the company is also working on two other projects in Algeria and Angola. “India operations are a drop in the ocean but we intend to grow in double digits going further. I believe this set up in India has the potential to be a market leader, if not the leading Pharma Engineering consultancy – it is just a matter of time. We look forward to penetrating countries like Indonesia, Vietnam and certain African nations from this Indian set up,” says Anuvrat Singal, General Manager, Glatt (India) Pharma Engineering.

In many emerging economies (for pharma) the trend is to go for oral solids as the first step and once the customer has absorbed the pharma requirements, do they venture into the liquid i.e. biotech world. Glatt has so far been able to maintain 50:50 share in solid and liquid projects, be it vaccines, insulin, blood plasma, tablets, capsules, inhalers, ointments etc. A German project director as rule of thumb on all projects ensures the transfer of know-how from Germany to India and in turn to its customers. However, India undeniably remains a price sensitive market with competition from global engineering consultants, as well as domestic small companies. Glatt is clear about its stand on the issue. “Everyone in the world wants to reduce cost, but Glatt will never cut corners and jeopardise the health of the patient in order to save costs for the customer,” Singal emphasises.

Committed to quality

“We are going to come up with our process technology on continuous fluid bed technology for the chemical and the food industry. Even the pharma sector is looking into the field of continuous technologies.”
Anuvrat Singal
GM, Glatt (India) Pharma Engineering

The parent company is credited with more than 250 turnkey projects executed worldwide (BUIII), with extensive experience in designing and setting up manufacturing plants, laboratories and R&D units around the globe. With Good Manufacturing Practices(GMP) at the heart of a drug manufacturing facility, guidelines from FDA, ISPE and Glatt quality manuals are followed along with local country specific guidelines to ensure standards are met. Keeping the patient at the heart, the strategy is to work inside out, keeping the man and material flow in view while designing the facility along with addressing the health, safety and environment issues from the very beginning of the project.

Year 2013 not only saw Glatt Engineering set up a liasion office in Mumbai but also an entity in Pune which comes under the equipment manufacturing division and is now fully functional to cater to local as well as other global markets. There are 12 plus engineers in the Mumbai office, jointly shared by Pune, trained at the company’s labs in Germany. With an equal number and more joining them at the Delhi office, it is expected that there would be a team of 25-30 engineers by the end of this year.

“We are building our own technology centre in Pune to help customers touch, feel and work on our technology and hopefully buy it by providing engineering services for pharma, food, feed and chemical. This office will help Glatt penetrate markets which we haven’t entered into so far. It will become the jewel in our crown,” Singal envisions.

Pune factory

Import bans imposed by the US FDA on certain Indian pharma companies on account of non-compliance with GMP norms might have tainted the market, however, Singal is hopeful that India will soon recover and rise above its mistakes. “We see a huge potential in this market and double digit growth,” he chips in. Conversely, he feels that this has much rather led to customers focusing more on quality and working alongside Glatt to design a world class facility. “The drug manufacturers along with consultants like Glatt Engineering have to keep track of all GMP + GEP (Good engineering practices) etc. in order to provide state-of-the-art solutions to customers and to try and future proof their facilities,” he stresses. The recent spate of M&As might have reduced the client base for Glatt but he believes that it has helped customers get more conscious about quality.

Since January this year, Glatt (India) Pharma Engineering has expanded its ambit beyond pharma and biotech projects into food, feed and fine chemicals in line with its vision to be the topmost engineering consultancy in India. “We are going to come up with our process technology on continuous fluid bed technology for the chemical and the food industry. Even the pharma sector is looking into the field of continuous technologies,” says Singal. The technology is in great demand and is going to be a major leap forward with most MNCs looking to upgrade it.

Most industries currently work in the batch process (production in kgs), whereas continuous fluid bed technology helps achieve a higher capacity(production in tonnes). Although the upfront cost might be high but in the long term, it is a cost saving procedure. And finally as the growth in developed markets will slow down over the next decade, emerging markets (like BRICA nations Brazil/ Russia/ India/ China/ Africa) and those beyond BRICA will spearhead growth within these markets. Off patent products, increase in middle class spending on health and government policies will further fuel this. “Glatt plans to focus on these markets and establish itself as the leader in the due course of time,” concludes Singal.

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