Pharmaceutical packaging

Schott Igar Glass produces more than 500 million ampoules, vials, pipettes and perfume bottles every year.
Thilo Horvatitsch, Mainz

Better, Faster, Safer

With its new plant site, the Indonesian manufacturer of pharmaceutical packaging, SCHOTT Igar Glass, is setting its sights on the quality and growth markets of the Asian-Pacific region.

The trend towards higher quality is as strong in Asian-Pacific pharmaceutical markets as it is elsewhere around the world, says Eric L’Heureux. “We expect a growing interest in high-quality pharmaceutical packaging in this region,” predicts the President of SCHOTT Igar Glass. Globalization has necessitated greater efforts on the part of all market participants in the field of healthcare.

This also applies to the some 200 pharmaceutical companies in Indonesia. They are increasingly having to cope with international standards such as the “Good Manufacturing Practices” (GMP) prescribed by national health authorities and the World Health Organization (WHO). These guidelines regulate the health-, quality- and safety-conscious production of drugs. In short, they set the compulsory quality standards on an international level for progressive pharmaceutical companies and their suppliers.

This means if you want to be a global player, you have to meet these high standards. The pharmaceutical packaging market in Asia is still dominated by mass-produced articles and thus low prices. “Nevertheless, pharmaceutical producers are increasingly beginning to reorient and are installing modern filling units so that they can manufacture their products better, faster and safer. To accomplish these improvements, they will need high-quality, reliable packaging, and this is precisely our market,” explains Eric L’Heureux.

Setting performance standards

Special glass tubing is used to manufacture high-quality pharmaceutical packaging products on 60 production lines.
In three shifts, SCHOTT Igar Glass manufactures some 500 million vials, ampoules, pipettes and special articles for the pharmaceutical market every year. Globally operating companies such as Roche, Aventis and Pharmacia are among the company’s customers, as are “local heroes” like Biofarma and Harsen. In its quality segment, which is growing to the same extent as the much larger overall market, SCHOTT Igar Glass has to hold its own against several regional competitors. Here the Indonesian subsidiary benefits from its parent company, SCHOTT, which, as a true global player, can provide the necessary resources. The strategy is clear: quality is the key to success on the market. And SCHOTT has been willing to invest several million euros to underscore its commitment. A bigger and more modern factory was built near Jakarta, and the equipment and employees from SCHOTT Igar Glass were relocated to the new site – all in two months.

With this new facility, SCHOTT Igar Glass is in a better position to meet the increasingly more stringent quality requirements of the pharmaceutical industry. And this was the reason for building the new plant. “SCHOTT Igar Glass has one of the most modern facilities for the production of pharmaceutical packaging in the world. We have the best prerequisites to set performance standards in the market,” says Dr. Peter Knaus, Vice President of SCHOTT’s globally operating Pharmaceutical Packaging Business Segment.

The comprehensive quality assurance program begins with the arrival of the raw materials and extends to the delivery of the finished products and beyond. The production facilities are equipped with special automatic monitoring systems for quality control. The continuous control of operations with video cameras and sensors guarantees the automatic rejection of products that do not meet specifications during the production process. With the help of special analytical tests, product quality is also tested and guaranteed in the company’s quality laboratory. After delivery, products and batches can be traced using numbering systems corresponding to the respective customers. “We have also created a competitive edge by installing clear rooms of Class 100,000. Our customers can thus be assured of international GMP standards in every respect,” says Eric L’Heureux.

A market leader in an exacting segment

In line with high international standards, the products are packaged in a clear room of Class 100,000.
A profile projector measures the geometry of the glass object – optically and without contact.
In the tropical climatic zones of the Asian-Pacific region, protecting medicines from harmful influences and enabling as long a shelf life as possible are important criteria for customers in the pharmaceutical industry. Pharmaceutical packaging made with special glass is therefore the material of first choice.

Of SCHOTT’s eleven international production sites for pharmaceutical packaging, SCHOTT Igar Glass has thus gained significantly in importance. This is underlined by the fact that SCHOTT Igar Glass supplies all of SCHOTT’s pharmaceutical customers requiring droppers. The company is already the clear leader in its segment and in its home market in Indonesia, where it currently generates 60 percent of its total sales. Target regions of the future include Australia, New Zealand and China. “We see especially good opportunities for growth in the Chinese market. Our sister company in the Group, SCHOTT China, has recently begun representing our interests and business there,” says Eric L’Heureux.

Further penetration into the Asian-Pacific markets is one of the foremost goals of SCHOTT Igar Glass. The expansion of manufacturing capabilities and the production of new products particularly for the Asian market are also planned for the future. These strategies can best be realized with the help of the new and larger plant site near the Indonesian capital of Jakarta on the island of Java, some 35 kilometers from the now sold former site. Here, in the modern Delta Silicon industrial park near Lippo Cikarang in the Bekasi region, there is enough space on the site measuring some 30,000 square meters for present and future projects.

Currently, 410 employees are working at the new plant. Increases in capacity are foreseeable. The prerequisite is that the company can make use of improved chances for success. Management is thus ensuring that employees take an active role in the operational process. For example, every member of the staff shares responsibility for quality assurance in the plant, which is certified in compliance with ISO 9001. But every employee can also participate in the success of the company by investing a modest sum and then benefiting from the annual profit-sharing scheme.

Employee participation and motivation are extremely important. Sometimes the company must react quickly and flexibly when a customer suddenly orders larger quantities, for example, due to another vaccination campaign. Such campaigns are often an initiative of the Indonesian government, which has now placed health and family planning high on its list of priorities.