Excellence United Technological Competence Times Five
Containment, continuous production and Industry 4.0 were the focus of this year’s Interpack presentation of the five German Excellence United partners Bausch+Ströbel, Glatt, Fette, Harro Höfliger and Uhlmann.
A crowd at the Excellence United stand on the morning of the first Interpack day: The alliance, launched in 2011, made its third appearance this year and took questions in the traditional press tour, led by Thomas Hofmaier, recently appointed spokesman of Excellence United. He directs the Pharma business sector at Glatt, and here is also the start of the stand tour. “Containment, continuous manufacturing and professional service are the focus of the trade fair presence of Excellence United", he explains. None of the five companies has reason to complain. In 2016, Bausch + Ströbel, Glatt, Fette, Harro Höfliger and Uhlmann have sales totalling more than € 1.4 billion, and the forecasts for 2017 are also good.
Full Order Books
The order books are full, and this is certainly one of the reasons for the harmony in the group. The premium alliance is bearing up. Some projects have been handled in teams of two or three, for example, the Respimat-Inhaler for Boehringer Ingelheim. Harro Höfliger was responsible for the inhaler technology, for the packaging and labelling of goods, along with Uhlmann and Bausch + Ströbel, two other partners of Excellence United were on board for process development and production.
Even in continuous production, people work together: For continuous production as an alternative to batch procedure, the alliance has matching concepts and the corresponding know-how, emphasises Hofmaier. As an example, take Modcos, the continuous production system of Glatt. In the technological variants of Modcos A (for direct injection) and B (for wet granulation), the FE series of Fette Compacting for the tablet compacting, and from Harro Höfliger for the microfeeder of the Modu-C family can be integrated.
Industry 4.0 Is Coming
The partners are also engaged in Industry 4.0. For Uhlmann, the digital future of pharmaceutical packaging lies in virtual reality applications, interactive 3D simulations and apps. So, with digital training concepts, the Uhlmann thermoforming machines and lines become entirely virtually tangible. In addition, the Laupheim company showed the high-performance blister line BEC 700 for use in fast-growing markets as well as a complete line, led by the blister machine BLU 400, for the efficient packaging of liquids products in a continuous process. The new compact cylinder line IBC 150 fills solid products in bottles and rounds off the Uhlmann machine park at the Interpack.
From hormone treatment to cancer therapy, more and more medicines contain highly active substances. In containment, Fette Compacting has developed a high-performance rotary with very low dust load which enables the serial production of more than 90 percent of all products. With the double rotary FE75, large batches e.g. for blockbuster products can also be pressed with less dust. In addition, with the i-series, Fette Compacting offers washable containment presses for all active pharmaceutical ingredients to the highly active area. The new Glatt Coater GCC has been specially designed for containment applications with an OEB level of less than a nanogram. Feeding, coating and emptying can be done in less than an hour. Depending on the application area, the user has the choice between fully-perforated round holes or the new slotted perforation.
Innovative Drug Delivery
Two exciting developments in the portfolio of Harro Höfliger are the X-Straw, a straw with pre- measured medicine, as well as a nasal applicator. With the example of the nasal device, the company demonstrates how the customer is supported and accompanied from the start of the development. For example, on a semi-automatic pilot plant for experimental samples, the fully automatic high-performance system had an output of 200 devices at 25 cycles per minute.
New Laboratory Device
In line with the trend topic “lab to production”, there is now the laboratory device Drum Lab: a semi-automatic powder microfeeder with roller filling technique. Even Virtual Reality has conquered mechanical engineering. Special-purpose machine manufacturer Höfliger gives the customer the possibility to go through the machine, even at the planning stage. In addition, Höfliger foregoes giving its turnkey solutions a new “look”: Combined production and packaging lines in the future will also be optically cast from a single mould, such as the production machine PMK for processing in line with the continuous packaging machine MKC.
Focus on Isolators
Bausch + Ströbel has set its focus on isolators and general barrier technology this year. This includes Variosys for small batch production: Different production modules can be combined here with a special insulator. Furthermore, the Variosys portfolio is supplemented by a machine for processing ampoules in bulk. In addition, Variosys can be combined both with the new semi-automatic machines of Bausch + Ströbel as well as filling systems and a bag filler of the Excellence United partner Harro Höfliger. With Variosys Move, a completely new application case is presented at Interpack for the first time. With the KCP, Bausch + Ströbel have developed a compact filling and closing machine, mainly for use in packaging and process technology development. Since the same control and dispensing techniques are used as for high-speed systems, the found processes are easy to transfer to large systems.
Service Is in Demand
Since 2012, Excellence United has also offered a common service portal, as many customers requested services at the same time. Demand is being driven by increasing quality requirements in production as well as continued high cost pressure.
Even now, of the more than 8000 Excellence United employees, over 800 are employed in the Service department. Cross-manufacturer performance consulting, investment planning and services in validation, contract manufacturing, process and product development are some examples from the portfolio.