Pharmaceutical companies searching for new suppliers of their machinery and equipment are looking for innovative solutions to their manufacturing challenges. Choosing a supplier with deep experience in pharmaceutical machinery can go a long way to addressing the unique issues associated with this specialized market. Here are a few key elements when considering a supplier for pharmaceutical machinery and equipment:
The first thing that companies prospecting for automation should gauge is the quality and commitment of the people who will be designing, managing, and building the automated machinery or system. No matter the type of pharmaceutical machine: custom or standard, or the final application, be it packaging, filling or vision inspection these machines are designed and built by people. Choosing a company that has a good team with a good track record will inevitably offer you a competitive advantage: delivery, cycle time, uptime, project management, and time to market.
A commitment to quality shows itself everywhere: in the quotation, the system design, in the manufacturing plant cleanliness, the project management, shipping, toolmaking and final build, all the way to the factory acceptance testing (FAT) and local after sales service. Companies that subscribe to internal quality systems such as ISO9001 or continuous improvement demonstrate accountability and a commitment to quality.
There is nothing better than the past experience of a machine builder to predict future performance. Picking a supplier that has integrated varied equipment, has built custom equipment and is not afraid to consider new and innovative ways to solve your manufacturing issues will give you the best chance of success in your automation project. Don’t be afraid to ask for references or to ask to speak to a customer on a recent project.
Consider the efficacy of choosing a machinery partner that is comfortable with doing some pre-work on your project. As an example: fundamental to a customer’s inspection system are cameras and special lighting to detect anomalies in filling IV bags. You have identified this risk up front with your prospective machine builder. And investment of time at this point will reduce the amount of hours needed to complete the vision programming and could affect the lighting, tooling and speed. An innovative partner will suggest creative ways to remove the risk from both sides, in a paid or shared cost engineering study.
In your procurement of automation systems, just as important as the consideration of all things technical, is the attitude of the company. Does the management team have a can-do attitude that shows commitment to addressing your challenges? As you walk around the facility, are the employees—the designers, engineers, machine builders, focused and busy? Are you introduced to project managers who understand your issues and are excited to work with you to solve your problems? In the competitive manufacturing sector, key suppliers become more of a manufacturing partner than an old school and often combative, relationship of a vendor-purchaser, where the purchaser beats the vendor down to the final contract agreement. The new normal supports an ongoing relationship with project managers who work with the customer to provide the best possible outcome and project success.
Your competitive advantage could come from choosing the right pharmaceutical machinery supplier. This advantage might be from innovation, project management, time to market or expertise in compliance or acceptance systems. In the competitive pharmaceutical equipment area this is not an option. This may not be the option that is the lowest cost, but considering a supplier that will give you this competitive advantage can be a win-win in the long term.
Why are partnerships so important in pharmaceutical machine building? In this competitive industry applications are extremely complex. From sensors and robots to part feeders and control software, integrators need partners to get the most out the components they integrate into the machines and systems. Automation integrators that have invested and partnered in their supply chain get inside access to new innovations, prototype products, first generation software and are the ones who get technical support and training first. That is why they call it a “trusted partnership”. Machine builders that have nurtured these strategic partnerships have a distinct advantage over those who don’t.
Choosing a pharmaceutical machinery supplier requires a balance between capability, cost, availability, and dependability. Although it seems basic, identifying your needs and creating a matrix and ranking of these factors, can go a long way to help you in your selection process for the right automation partner.
If you have any questions about Pharmaceutical Machinery, please do not hesitate to contact me directly,
ACIC Machinery Group