In the run up to this year’s Interpack trade show in Germany, Frans Maas, Vice President, Sales and Marketing, GEA Pharma Systems, discusses why it’s a must-attend event for the company and what visitors can expect to see on site: trusted brands, global supply and technical know-how.
GEA Pharma Systems has built a solid reputation for blending inspiration with technology, and it’s that mixture of know-how, experience and equipment that will be on display at Interpack 2014 in Düsseldorf, Germany, in May (8–14). “Interpack is a truly global platform for customer interaction and information exchange,” says Frans, “and a great opportunity to meet clients and showcase our products, technological innovation and expertise. It’s about addressing a customer’s challenges and delivering a solution, be it in compression, containment, continuous manufacturing or coating.” He added, “I’m a great believer in meeting people face to face. This is still a people business in which establishing good relationships is paramount.”
The company is keen to spotlight its knowledge and expertise. “Our skillfully crafted equipment is the physical realisation of the know-how and experience of our scientists, researchers and technicians,” noted Frans. “Operating at a global scale, we are a single-source supplier of trusted brands but, more importantly, we provide price–performance value for our customers: from a single piece of equipment or a module to an entire processing line; from API dispensing to tableting and coating. By working with so many companies for so many years, we’re proud of our reputation as a reliable, trustworthy partner. We’re constantly innovating and developing complete, integrated systems that meet today’s pharmaceutical manufacturing challenges. Our insight and process understanding, derived from thousands of successful installations and projects, is what differentiates us from the competition.”
Bringing robust technologies together in an innovative way that meets customer needs in terms of operational reliability is critical to GEA Pharma Systems, and Interpack will be a showcase for breakthrough innovations or, as Frans puts it: “taking existing technologies and continuously redeveloping them to extend the lifecycle of our portfolio and provide better products. We’re highlighting current and future technology platform developments, such as the ConsiGma™ tableting line, and presenting our global know-how and experience.”
Another key strength for GEA Pharma Systems is reliable operational service and systems. “In my opinion,” states Frans, “operational reliability is a much-underestimated key value. Putting it plainly, we design and deliver kit that works. We have a legacy of designing and delivering hundreds of high-tech installations and converting new clients into repeat customers. Our trusted brands, such as Buck™.Collette™, Courtoy™ and Aeromatic-Fielder™ are the cornerstone of that operational reliability and have been active in the process manufacturing industries, including Big Pharma, for more than a century. We’re not just in it for the short-term, we pride ourselves on being a preferred and trusted partner for the long-term, providing better technology, higher productivity, superior granule/tablet quality, flexible manufacturing concepts and a wealth of process knowledge.”
The Four Cs
We’re resilient, explains Frans, because we’ve not only continued to supply working and workable solutions, but that every time we deliver, we deliver innovation — particularly in the 4Cs: compression, containment, continuous manufacturing and coating. In tablet compression, for example, the MODUL™ rotary tablet press technology for applications requiring containment and/or fast changeover is unmatched in the solid dosage industry. And, in the broader containment environment, the company has an unparalleled number of customer testimonials and third-party accreditations for providing innovations in operator protection and reducing or eliminating the need for isolators.
Containment is an important issue in many of today’s production lines. “We have a long history of expertise in this area,” said Frans, “GEA Pharma Systems specialises in contained materials handling solutions. With Buck Systems™ and Buck® high containment split butterfly valves, we offer a wide range of technologies and equipment that improve and enhance the efficiency and performance of solid dosage form plants for the safe transfer of powders. Together with our customers, we know exactly what level of containment is needed where.”
GEA Pharma Systems can also supply a range of coating systems for particles, powders, granules, crystals, pellets and tablets, which, in the case of tablets, can also be integrated into a continuous line. The FlexStream™, for example, is an innovative multipurpose processor that uses proven fluid bed technology to achieve fluid bed granulation, drying and pellet coating (or tablet coating) in a single processor. Frans explains that the company now has more than 50 FlexStream™ installations worldwide and, he noted: “We can prove that we have a more effective solution that Würster coating.”
Similarly, the ConsiGma™ coater from GEA Pharma Systems is a revolutionary, new, high performance tablet coating technology that accurately deposits controlled amounts of coating materials on tablets — even if they are hygroscopic or friable. Designed specifically to be a high quality, economical alternative to batch coaters, the unit is able to coat small quantities of tablets at very high rates, offering improved heat and mass transfer and using much less coating material than traditional technologies. It can be used as an integral part of the ConsiGma™ continuous line for various granulation applications, as well as direct compression, or linked to a tablet press.
When it comes to implementing continuous manufacturing, compared with classical production lines and, for example, buying a fluid bed dryer or a high shear mixer, it’s always a business-related decision. “It’s not decided by a single department; it’s a multi-disciplinary decision that’s made at very senior levels in various departments. So, it’s not a classic tender as it challenges traditional manufacturing and quality concepts; it’s a solution sell to the director, VP and C-level board members. That’s the big difference,” observes Frans.
Looking beyond the machinery, GEA Pharma Systems has a global reach, particularly in the areas of delivery, after-sales service and — with a proven track record of implementing thousands of systems, all backed up with professional support and ongoing customer service — providing the all-important price–performance value. Said Frans: “In our traditional markets — the US and Europe — we’ve supplied a large number of plants. But, next to the N11 countries, in the last 5 to 10 years we’ve done projects all over the world, from Chile to Costa Rica, from South Africa to Taiwan, from Vietnam to Algeria and so on. It just goes to show that no matter how developed the domestic market is or how diverse the application or location, we’re able to do business in any market, anywhere on the planet. We’ve supplied solutions in many, many countries, particularly in Eastern Europe, Latin America and the Asia-Pacific region, which is representative, we feel, of where the core growth is in the pharmaceutical market.”
Regarding key industry drivers, Frans noted that pharmaceutical growth is driven by the demands of global demographics and the rapidly expanding “middle class.” With 3.5 billion people estimated to join the global middle class market in the next 5 years, governments and pharmaceutical manufacturers alike are aware of the inherently associated rise in lifestyle diseases and their need for medicines, which will drive pharmaceutical industry investment.
For example, the global vaccine market is currently growing at a CAGR of 9.8%. One of the key factors contributing to this market growth is the focus on developing countries by leading manufacturers. North America and Europe are showing signs of saturation and, as a result, many companies are focusing on expanding into other regions. Emerging and developing countries represent a significant opportunity for vaccine manufacturers, mainly because of the large unmet medical need of patients for basic vaccines. Diessel™ and Lyophil™ produce and supply process systems for the production and freeze-drying of liquid and fermentation products, including vaccines, for the pharmaceutical and biotechnological industries. “This is an important area for GEA and we are very active in this market; we’ve worked on some key projects with a number of clients, all over the world, to help them produce high quality vaccines to meet the unmet needs of these patients,” said Frans.
“We see a lot of this type of growth in the emerging regional markets, along with a huge rise in generics production. And with worldwide prescription drug sales forecast to total $885 billion by 2018 and global pharmaceutical R&D spend set to grow by 1.5% per year to $149 billion in the same timeframe, key growth areas will be in therapy classes such as oncology, vaccines, diabetes, hormones and inhalants. It’s comforting to know that we have past experience in all of these areas, including some very recent implementations in both traditional markets and emerging economies,” he added, “GEA Pharma Systems has developed an expanded service model during the last 10 years to supply companies that are active in these areas with cost-performance solutions.”
Partners for productivity might be a somewhat hackneyed phrase, but it rings very true for GEA Pharma Systems. “We offer everything from R&D-scale solutions, standalone production modules and complete, full-scale, integrated production lines. We’re there at whatever size and scale the customer needs: from R&D, line of sight and testing to standalone, expansion, replacement and upgrade projects and completely integrated systems,” noted Frans. “And,” he added, “stability is important for us: we have an established and very highly qualified team at GEA Pharma; we have members of staff who’ve been with the company for a long time, which means that our customers know exactly who they’re dealing with. It makes a big difference.”
When asked about take-home messages from the show, Frans wants visitors to come away with the knowledge that, as a reliable, single-source solution provider, “We’re there, we’re stable, we have the know-how and the technology and the experience … and we innovate. Not only that, we do it consistently, delivering the price-performance value and dependability that our customers want. And it’s not just about tangible technology, it’s about the breadth of expertise and the long history of success stories that contribute to that knowledge, all of which is driven by the passion and proficiency of our people.”
Visitors to the GEA stand will not only get to see the latest pharmaceutical innovations at Interpack. As GEA Pharma Systems is part of the greater GEA Group, the company will be exhibiting beyond the drug manufacturing industry and displaying process equipment and solutions for the food, dairy, beverage, chemical and home and personal care sectors. With such a comprehensive range of machinery, equipment, modules, components and technology, the GEA Group really does process and pack it all!
About GEA Group
GEA Group is one of the largest suppliers of single-source solutions for the processing and packaging industries, including the food, confectionery, dairy, beverage, pharmaceutical, biotechnology, chemical and home and personal care sectors. As an international technology group, the company focuses on process technology and components for sophisticated production processes. In 2013, GEA generated consolidated revenues in excess of EUR 4.3 billion, more than 70 percent of which came from the food sector, which is a long-term growth industry. The group employed about 18,000 people worldwide as of December 31, 2013. GEA Group is a market and technology leader in its business areas. It is listed in Germany’s MDAX stock index (G1A, WKN 660 200) and the STOXX® Europe 600 Index. Further information is available at www.gea.com.
GEA Pharma Systems
GEA Pharma Systems is a global specialist in solid and liquid dose technology for the pharmaceutical industry. As part of the Process Engineering segment of the GEA Group, with manufacturing and technology centres in Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Switzerland, the UK, Singapore, South Korea and the USA, and additional manufacturing facilities worldwide including India and China, we provide the services the pharmaceutical industry needs. Test facilities — technical know-how — process evaluation — product development — market-leading technology — project management — ongoing support.