Exclusive Interview “We Will Continue to Sharpen Our Profile“
Diosna — the German machine and system manufacturer is known for its high quality of its pharma machines and customized concepts — Since May 2018, Henrik Oevermann has been in charge of Diosna’s business as CEO. One of his first challenges was the changing of existing structures. The pharmaceutical and food divisions are now working more closely together in order to create synergies, delivering flexibility in engineering and in production. Now he is thinking intensively about the next steps in Diosna’s progress.
Process Worldwide: Mr. Oevermann, the economy is stuttering at the moment. VDMA figures show that the age of strong growth in mechanical engineering is over for the time being at least. How is Diosna coping with the downturn in the economy?
Henrik Oevermann: Business development of both, the pharma and food area, is currently equally strong. Money is cheap right now and, thanks to the expansionary policy of central banks, there is plenty of credit available for optimization measures and productivity boosts, as well as for new equipment to deliver them. We are also seeing existing machinery that has aged being replaced with newer machines with a view to bringing the control system and documentation software, for instance, back up to the latest standards.
Process Worldwide: Does this mean, though, that less is being invested in new equipment at present?
Oevermann: I wouldn’t say that, necessarily. At the moment, for instance, we have built two very large granulation lines for customers in Germany and Egypt. These are being configured in very different designs. But yes, we are talking a lot about modifications, optimizations or expansions. Really new capacities are primarily being built in the Far East.
Process Worldwide: Can you profit from that?
Oevermann: We have branches and service in Russia and India, for instance. A branch in the USA is just in the process of being established. However, our core business is being done from the German headquarters. We're a little more conservative away from home.
Process Worldwide: In the food sector you turned the former Isernhäger into a biotechnology division a few years ago. What ideas do you have for the pharmaceuticals division?
Oevermann: At the moment we are engaged in intensive discussions on the direction in which we want to develop the pharmaceuticals unit, and we’re thinking of a number of options. In any case, we are further focusing on producing our machines and systems in our German manufacturing site where we are directly involved in the production process. This guarantees our high quality manufacturing standard.
Process Worldwide: Can you flesh out your ideas a little?
Oevermann: Diosna stands for high-end quality in processing for mechanical engineering. That’s exactly what is needed in the clean room. It’s all about precision there, which generally can’t be achieved with low-cost machinery. In oncology they are developing new drugs which are all very expensive, which is why high machine quality and high containment are essential. These are fields in which we have gained enormous experience and on which we want to focus even more in the future. Overall, though, the internal discussions haven’t yet come to a conclusion.
Pocess Worldwide: Does the issue of oncology mean a greater orientation towards the production of liquids or even cell culture technology?
Oevermann: We also took a close look at precisely this field. For the moment, though, we have come to the conclusion that this is not an area we are interested in yet, although we do certainly offer expertise here. We are building fermenters for the production of lactobacillus cultures in the food sector. In terms of standards this is very similar to the production of biopharmaceuticals. We have analyzed the market and discovered that the music playing there is more in the downstream range, and here there are strong competitors who make this field unattractive for us.
Process Worldwide: And what is attractive for you?
Oevermann: Our core business, obviously. This includes mixer granulators, single-pot processors, fluid bed processors, universal mixers, granulation lines and modular laboratory equipment. Systems and machinery for the containment sector have long been an important business field for Diosna. We focus primarily on customized solutions that are out of the ordinary and for which we can respond very flexible to customer requirements. Interesting subsidiary areas include flexible systems for the R&D and clinical sample sector, mixing systems for the manufacture of inhalants and drying under vacuum (“single-pot”). Joint development work in the Diosna Technology Center in Osnabrück also has a key role to play here.
Process Worldwide: The current hot topic in the industry is continuous production. Is that the same for Diosna pharmaceuticals?
Oevermann: We have analyzed the market in detail and decided not to get involved in it. We believe that it is a market that over the long term will fluctuate between a plus and minus 15 percent share of the overall market. That’s not an order of magnitude that interests us. Even though we have the know-how for continuous production processes inhouse due to our food sector.
Process Worldwide: Batch sizes have been falling for years. Laboratory equipment is already at the production standard for oncological drugs. Clinical sample manufacture is another exciting area. What have you to offer there?
Oevermann: Our modular Midilab RC system and the Minilab RC system mean we are well-equipped to meet these requirements. Diosna has put a great deal of small items of equipment on the market over the decades. And that's also what we always see as one of our strengths, particularly with regard to the Asian competitors.
Process Worldwide: What are you planning for the next three to five years?
Oevermann: We have just invested in our technical center to bring it right up-to-date. We will continue to focus and sharpen our profile in the processing of solids in mixing and granulation. As regards excipients, we will get more involved there and investigate adjacent business fields: cosmeceuticals, nutraceuticals and, as said, the issue of high containment will certainly continue to occupy us over the next few years.
Thank you for taking the time to talk with us.