Delivering the Right Power An Overview of Cable Solutions for the Pharmaceutical Industry

Author / Editor: First published in PROCESS India / Dominik Stephan

The pharmaceutical industry has shown great prowess. In order for companies to flourish, all aspects of this process industry need to be enhanced. One of the easiest ways to ensure the best functioning of a pharmaceutical plant is through cabling solutions that ensure safety and cost effectiveness. Here’s an overview of the types of cables are best suited for challenging environments and processes.

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Specialized wires and cables ensure that the manufacturing facilities perform reliably with minimum maintenance
Specialized wires and cables ensure that the manufacturing facilities perform reliably with minimum maintenance
(Picture: Lapp India)

India is among the top five emerging pharmaceutical markets and has grown at an estimated compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 13 per cent during the period FY 2009–2013. The pharmaceutical industry in India is the third largest in the world in terms of volume and has evolved as one of the most advanced market in terms of its manufacturing facilities. The measures announced in the Union Budget for 2014-15 by Union Minister for Finance, Government of India, Arun Jaitley is expected to propel the growth of the Indian pharmaceutical sector.

Characterized by low costs of production, availability of scientific manpower and technological competence, the pharmaceutical industry is estimated to grow in the region of 10–13 per cent (CAGR) until 2020. The recent hike in the foreign direct investment (FDI) limit to 49 per cent will encourage more foreign investment into the sector and give the desired push to the pharmaceutical industry. The industry today can boast of producing the entire range of pharmaceutical formulations, i.e., medicines ready for consumption by patients and about 350 bulk drugs. The industry spends approximately 18 per cent of the revenue on research and development. The Department of Pharmaceuticals has prepared a ‘Pharmaceutical Vision 2020’ document for making India one of the leading destinations for end-to-end drug discovery and innovation.

Pharmaceutical industry: A Success Story in BRICS Countries

In the recent times, the pharmaceutical industry in India has gained high interest globally owing to new opportunities in the market. The states of Gujarat, Maharashtra, AP, and Himachal Pradesh are predominant industry cluster areas for the pharmaceutical sector.

The pharmaceutical industry is one of the success stories of Indian manufacturing sector. India has more than 800 pharmaceutical machine manufacturers supporting more than 20,000 pharmaceutical companies with their cost effective solutions.

Important Trends in Cables for Pharma Applications

Trends that have helped create a favorable environment for the growth of Indian pharmaceutical industry are:

  • Higher disposable income of middle class: the middle class population is rapidly acquiring the purchasing power necessary to afford quality western medicine
  • Increase in insurance coverage
  • Growth in chronic/acute disease segment
  • Increasing awareness of personal health and hygiene due to better awareness programs
  • Boost to the medical infrastructure
  • Intense competition in the market from global and small pharmaceutical manufacturers owing to positive Government initiatives
  • Highest growth drivers are life style drugs (cardiovascular, anti diabetes and neurology)
  • Introduction of generic drugs to reduce cost by many countries will stand to benefit many pharmaceutical industrial players
  • Niche drugs for the developed market will be another key growth driver

As per a recent pharmaceutical report by Bain & Company, India’s pharmaceutical capabilities are strong and growing fast. It also states that the involvement of global pharmaceutical companies as partners will speed the emergence of big Indian pharmaceutical companies in global markets.

And the pace of investments and partnerships is picking up. Approximately `120 billion is to be invested in pharmaceutical sector this financial year and the domestic pharmaceutical machinery production is expected to be `26.1 billion in 2014 and is expected to grow to `46 billion by 2020.

India has an edge with excellent and worldclass national laboratories specializing in process development and development of cost effective technologies. Intelligent cabling solutions play a crucial role in catering to the growing needs of quality and innovation in pharmaceutical processing. Specialized wires and cables ensure that the manufacturing facilities perform reliably with minimum maintenance.

Essential Characteristics of Cables

  • The cables employed in this industry must be versatile, flexible, and space-efficient. With the advent of compact machines, accommodating thick cables in the machines is extremely challenging.
  • They should also be resistant to sunlight, moisture, and vapor penetration. Constantly shutting down the machine for maintenance reduces productivity.
  • For ease of recognition, cables should be color coded
  • Impact and crush resistant cables always gain an upper hand in these applications
  • Low-adhesive surface, resistant to hydrolysis
  • Must mandatorily be flame retardant, and HFFR (halogen free fire resistant)
  • They should be free from oxidation (corrosion resistant)
  • The industry favors cables which do not need additional conduits and ducts for safety purposes. In fact, some sectors do not even encourage the use of any corrugated cables, to prevent the risk of dust and chemical accumulation.
  • Joint-free cables are ideally preferred as they lower the losses and prevent excessive heating up of the cables
  • They must comprise of abrasion resistant insulation
  • They should be oil-resistant and should be able to withstand vibrations
  • Sectors like, pharmaceuticals are clean room applications. To prevent contaminations in such applications, cables have to be dust resistant and chemically stable. They should also not contain any structural irregularity.
  • Cables should be chemically protected
  • The cables must be Restriction of Hazardous Substance (ROHS) compliant.
  • For iron and steel and food and processing sectors, the use of high temperature resistant cables is mandatory (the maximum temperature is to be dictated by the application)
  • Some applications demand that the components used in them, including cables, adhere to international standards. Compromising on these demands could lead to hazardous risks, especially in the process industry.

Control cables are widely used in this segment for key application areas such as robotics, motors, and hydraulic systems. The power cables are mainly used for transmission. Profibus and ethernet cables are used for networking and data transmission. Lapp cables are extensively used due to presence of various German machinery manufacturers who demand high service levels. The key influencers are large pharmaceutical companies, EPC / consultants and machinery suppliers who demand best quality owing to the criticality of applications. Lapp India provides superior quality cabling solutions to ensure consistent performance.

The State of the Art in Control Cables

Lapp cables offer flexibility which simplifies installation where space is limited. It possesses insulating properties after combustion due to remaining SiO2 ash on the conductor. These are ideal for areas with high ambient temperatures where insulating and sheath materials of conventional cables will embrittle after a short while.

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