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Siegfried Drost (left), Managing Director, Uhlmann Pac-Systeme GmbH & Co KG and Sumeet Arora (right), Managing Director, Uhlmann India, discuss how currently India is at the cusp of exponential growth, when it comes to the pharmaceutical market

Image: Uhlmann India
4 Ratings

Interview “Rising degree of automation in India”

Sep 2, 2016

…say Siegfried Drost, Managing Director, Uhlmann Pac-Systeme GmbH & Co KG and Sumeet Arora, Managing Director, Uhlmann India. In this interaction with Megha Roy, they discuss how currently India is at the cusp of exponential growth, when it comes to the pharmaceutical market and figures significantly in the global market too. Excerpts…

As per recent reports, the global pharmaceutical packaging equipment market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 6.9% from 2015 to 2020. What are your company’s initiatives to climb the growth ladder?

Drost: Today, the Indian pharmaceutical industry has to shift from manual operations to an automated process, along with tracking the international safety laws. Also, the FDA is taking efforts to make the products and distribution safer. For example, the track and trace serialisation, offered by our company, has a wide spectrum of products to help companies ensure compliance with today’s expanding global drug serialisation requirements.

To be at par with international standards, we offer blister packing machines that can handle up to 1200 blisters or 20,000 tablets per minute. In addition, we also have tablet counting and bottle filling machines that handle up to 40,000 products per minute. As such, we are entirely laid out in our production and design capacity to sustain the international market for the coming five years.

Can you brief on your company’s initiatives to contribute to the overall growth of the pharmaceutical industry?

Drost: We have developed suitable equipment as per the customer’s requirements. Besides, we have provided accompanying service for machines to run faster, longer and better, than before. This is one of the major reasons to set-up Uhlmann’s Indian operations. Earlier, our equipment was not appropriate for the Indian market. But now the scenario has changed as the Indian pharmaceutical companies are exporting rapidly. They are looking for high-speed and sophisticated equipment to serve the international markets. Uhlmann is a member company of Excellence United, an alliance covering the entire value-added chain of pharmaceutical production. This will enable us to have factory-trained service people on-site and project engineers to discuss new projects, viz the counterparts of the Indian pharmaceutical industry.

A number of challenges have been witnessed for serialisation in the packaging industry. To address such challenges, what are the solutions offered by your company?

Arora: We offer our own equipment for Track & Trace, combined with the necessary software and hardware device for effective serialisation of product and enhanced traceability. We also offer serialisation solutions, which can be retrofitted on existing machines.

Initially, we took limited orders and, thereby, developed our expertise & skills. Today, we handle global projects, provide track and trace serialisation solutions across the different industry verticals.

IoT-enabled packaging can track shipments and improves supply chain workflow. How do you define the role of IoT today, in the Indian pharma packaging industry?

Arora: The Indian industry will take some time to define the role of IoT. In pharmaceutical industry, products are made in batches, and compounded with this are regulatory needs to be taken care of. Every batch requires having samples to be taken into labs.

Currently, track and trace is a preferred solution for traceability. However, we are also developing IoT functions like predictive maintenance, comprehensive machine monitoring systems and have hired people with similar skill sets. It can be said that the pharmaceutical industry will not be a forerunner, but will have IoT’s presence eventually. It will be evolutionary, not revolutionary.

Drost: This will be time talking as compared to other industries, the pharmaceutical industry is conservative and regulated.

What are the challenges in your sector, globally as well as in India? What is your view on the market potential in India?

Arora: India continues to have a strong position in the pharmaceutical industry. We are poised to hit 50 billion dollars by 2020. We are also exporting 20% of the entire generics produced in the world. Most of our supplies are to the western world and, thus, the challenges include high levels of compliance and regulatory requirements. Reliability is another pre-requisite. Industry wants more tech-savvy equipment with better reliability. Uhlmann has a wide range of solutions for the same.

With the ‘Make in India’ in backdrop, how do you strategies your business models in India?

Drost: We have been a member of ‘Make in India’ programme since October 2013. We are one of the 20 selected companies in Germany, who are now a part of the programme. This strategy simplifies our process of work. As a foreign company, to enter the Indian market, we need to have a local access in terms of language, mindset and requirements. As such, the Government of India has upgraded a positive momentum by providing a network-support.

What are your future plans for India, in terms of business expansion and market potentials in short, medium and long term?

Drost: In India, we look forward to produce packaging equipment for pharmaceuticals. Hence, we need to set-up our manufacturing capacity to produce the parts, and get it manufactured and tested in India. In addition, we also plan to set-up competitive centres in India. We target to meet 5 million € in the next five years and grow in workforce—both domestic & global market.

Arora: Also, we plan to capitalise on the software strengths available in India. We would explore developing software systems in India at an optimum cost and pass the benefits to our clients.

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