Industry 4.0 does not stop at any sector. However, especially when it comes to pharma production, revolutionary technologies need to be adapted for use with sensitive products. This requires cooperation across all processes, and that is precisely what five leading manufacturers of specialized machinery – Bausch+Ströbel, Fette Compacting, Glatt, Harro Höfliger and Uhlmann – offer in order to deliver solutions along the entire pharma production chain.

Successfully too: Excellence United partners achieved a total turnover of over 1.4 billion euros in the 2016 financial year. They are relying on close cooperation here to provide customers with comprehensive support on containment, on continuous manufacturing and in service.

Containment solutions for the entire value chain

From hormone treatments to cancer therapies, more and more often medicines contain highly potent active pharmaceutical ingredients. Manufacturers face the challenge of providing comprehensive protection for products, operators and the environment while maintaining their position against global competitors. The five companies are regarded as pioneers in the market for integrated containment. For 20 years now, the partners have been offering solutions for the entire production line, including packaging. This includes risk assessment and analysis of important production parameters – above all, toxicological values, the frequency of production cycles and the necessary level of operator protection.

The respective analyses guarantee reproducibility and largely rule out operator error as a result of validated processes. According to good manufacturing practice (GMP) guidelines, among other things, this prevents cross-contamination and protects the product. 

Continuous manufacturing as a seamless comprehensive service

After beginning as nothing more than a bold dream, today continuous manufacturing is actually taking place in pilot systems and production plants. The alliance has appropriate strategies and the relevant know-how to initiate continuous manufacturing as an alternative to batch production. Collaboration between all Excellence United partners makes it possible to increase the cost efficiency of production while simultaneously reducing the risks involved in project realization. In that area, for example, the partners Glatt, Fette Compacting and Harro Höfliger combine technological innovations and close cooperation to create a seamless comprehensive offering that is supported by specialists at every stage. This makes it possible to integrate Fette Compacting FE Series tablet presses and Harro Höfliger Modu-C microdosing units into the technological variants of the Glatt continuous manufacturing platform: MODCOS A (direct compression) and MODCOS B (wet granulation).

All-round service offerings to meet rising quality standards

Another advantage that Excellence United offers is its pooling of service expertise. Rising quality standards in production and ongoing high cost pressures are the main drivers of the increasing demand for services. As a result, process and optimization know-how become decisive competitive advantages. The Excellence United partner companies understand the complexity of production lines and support their customers with value-creating services.

More than 800 out of a total of over 8,000 employees work in services. Cross-manufacturer performance consulting, equipment planning and services in the fields of validation, contract manufacturing and process and product development are just some examples of this wideranging portfolio.

Innovations at interpack 2017

Among other things, the five partner companies of Excellence United will be presenting the following innovations at interpack 2017:

Glatt is offering a complete solution for the continuous manufacturing of coated tablets from powder based on MODCOS (Modular Continuous System), its proven multifunctional platform. At the heart of the machine is Glattview CONTI, the integrated control unit that links individual process units. Glatt has created a technological platform for a current total of 10 dosing units to facilitate the direct compression of tablets with the MODCOS system.

Developed from scratch, the innovative MODCOS mixing unit offers several feeding positions and allows modular expansions as a result of different process lengths. Glatt’s new GCC coater was specially developed for containment applications with an OEB level of less than one nanogram. Feeding, coating and discharging can be completed in less than one hour. Depending on the field of application, customers can now choose between round perforation and a new slit perforation.

Fette Compacting offers a high-performance rotary press for containment applications that generates very low dust levels and enables the serial production of over 90% of all products. The FE75 double rotary press can also be used in the low-dust production of large batches – for example, of blockbuster products. In addition, the company is presenting its FEC40 capsule filling machine in Europe for the first time. It offers an impressive output of up to400,000 capsules per hour. The FEC40 is available in two configurations: users can choose between two filling punch stations or up to four pellet stations. The changing of filling punch stations is carried out using a patented removal system. Furthermore, Fette Compacting is presenting a new generation of punch: it has been possible to develop and optimize the proven EU 19 to produce the EU 19 FS® punch. It results in lower stress in punch headtransitions, which accordingly prolongs operating life.

Harro Höfliger is presenting the latest developments in its portfolio, including XStraw®, a straw containing a preportioned medicine, and a new nasal applicator. As part of its focus on the “Lab to Production” theme, the company is also presenting the Drum Lab laboratory device, a semiautomatic powder microdosing unit with drum filling technology. High-performance machines from various technological fields will be brought to life in virtual-reality applications. In addition, a new turnkey production and packaging line will be displayed at the fair that combines lineprocessing and continuous cartoning. Other Harro Höfliger fair highlights include 100% filling quantity control of sealed inhalation blister strips using X-ray technology and a containment solution for the Modu-C LS (Low Speed) capsule filling machine. The more powerful Modu-CMS (Mid Speed) is being shown with powder and microtablet dosing stations on flexible exchangeable trolleys.

Uhlmann is presenting the digital future of pharmaceutical packaging with virtual-reality applications, interactive 3D simulations and apps. As a result, Uhlmann blister machines and lines can be experienced directly by completely virtual means using digital training systems. Furthermore, Uhlmann will be presenting its high-speed Blister line BEC 700 for use in rapidly growing markets, as well as a complete line, including the Blister machine BLU 400, for the efficient packaging of liquid products in a continuous process. The new compact Bottle line IBC 150 fills bottles with solid dose products – and rounds off the Uhlmann range of machines at interpack.

Bausch+Ströbel is focusing on isolators and barrier technology in general this year. This includes the VarioSys system for small-batch production that can combine various production modules with a special isolator. The VarioSys portfolio has been expanded to include a machine for processing ampoules in bulk. In addition to this, VarioSys can be combined not only with the new semi-automatic Bausch+Ströbel machines, but also with filling systems and a bag filler made by Excellence United partner Harro Höfliger. A completely new application is also being presented for the first time with VarioSys Move.

Bausch+Ströbel is also introducing the KCP, a compact filling and closing machine that is primarily intended for use in the development of packaging materials and process technology. Since it deploys the same control and filling technologies as used in high-speed machines, the processes found can be easily transferred to large equipment.

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