Indian manufacturers growing fast, but lack precision and flexibility
Strong links with European technology majors, allow Mumbai-based technology and packaging oriented company, ACE Technologies to offer a robust product pipeline for the domestic market. Ajay Mehra, Managing Director, Ace Technologies shares his company’s future plans with Usha Sharma
What are ACE Technologies offerings for the pharma and biotech industries? What gives your products an edge over others?
ACE Technologies over the years has tried to bring to the Indian Pharmaceutical and Biotech industries the latest technological trends available in the world at their doorsteps. ACE offers various technologies related to the various applications related to the vaccines, anticancer, hormones and other sterile processes and packaging.
Our company offers products like the pre-filled syringe and vial fillers from Groninger GmBH, which is the market leader and pioneers in various complex filling areas especially for viscous products like High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) etc. Apart from fillers we also offer autoclaves from Fedegari, water systems from Stilmas, inspection machines from Brevetti, leak testers from Bonfiglioli, tablet presses from GEA Cortuoy, Lyophilisers from GEA Lyophill, blister packaging machines and cartonators from Heino Illsemann and a futuristic product which is the online decontamination of biowaste for the biotech and vaccine industry from Actini.
Can you highlight the core difference in pharma packaging products and technologies used in Korea, Germany, and Italy over India? Which market is more cost effective?
Well it is very difficult to pinpoint the core differences as they are perceived differently by different individuals especially based on their experiences or hearsay about the products. However, it is observed that the mother of all packaging products originate from Germany hence the costs involved are high. Others follow it by making changes to them by adding or deleting features to make them more affordable to the mass market on the whole. Indian manufacturers are growing fast in stature but lack the precision and flexibility at a consistent level, desired in the high paced world of packaging.
The oncology, biopharmaceuticals and vaccines segment have a huge market potential in the near future, do you think these segments will boost the growth of the packaging industry as they have special packaging needs?
Definitely yes, these are specialised products and as such they need highly complex technologies which are slowly but surely increasing into the Indian pharma industry. Also this need for sophisticated packaging will put pressure on Indian packaging companies to offer suitable technology to stay in the race with the international players in this field.
What are your offerings in the clinical packaging space? What percent revenue comes from this segment?
We have been in the market since the last eight years with pre fill syringe filling machines, this coupled with the inspection machines and the most recently added secondary packaging equipment constitutes approx 40 percent of the revenues.
Besides pharma which other segments have similar market potential for the packaging business?
Besides the pharma sector the Food and Beverage industry are the industries to look out for as the packaging needs of these industries are also blossoming into major revenue sectors. The different kinds of foods and lifestyle products are fast gaining importance and as such need specialised packaging.
At present who are your pharma and biotech clients both domestic as well as international? What kind of services do you provide them?
Almost all major pharma companies like Cipla, Ranbaxy, Dr. Reddy’s, Wockhardt, Sun Pharma, Zydus, Nicholas, Biocon etc are our clients and we cater to their various process and packaging needs.
Whom do you recognise as your competitors? Why?
Competition is an age old word, which is soon getting out dated. We feel that no two companies are the same and has their own Unique Selling Propositions (USPs) and their own profile which differentiates them for each other and as such each supplier caters to companies based on the needs of the end users who are dependents on various parameters like product pricing, technological inputs desired, delivery times etc.
How has the ongoing recession/ slowdown impacted the packaging industry and the life sciences industry in particular?
The current situation has definitely put brakes on the investment pattern of many companies towards fresh projects but the products and projects which require the latest technology and packaging are going ahead with their plans. But the time lines have relaxed a bit as they are also prioritising between the essentials and luxuries.
Due to the terror attack in Mumbai, the leading pharma machinery event P-MEC India got cancelled. How did it affect ACE Technologies’s plans?
The recent terror attack in Mumbai and the subsequent cancellation of the P-MEC India is an unfortunate incident which has cost not only ACE but also all other companies who were looking forward to this event to exhibit the new technologies to the world at large and to generate fresh enquiries. At ACE we were to launch our tie up with one of the world’s leading companies ie. GEA GmBH for tablet presses and for Lyophilisers.
Also on display were for the first time unique products from Fedegari, which was a washer cum steriliser. This show was to be the launch pad for the online decontamination of bio waste technology from Actini. We will definitely reach out to the audience in the times to come but the process has been slowed down considerably.
What are your expansion plans? How many new products are in the pipeline? When are they expected to be launched?
As a part of our expansion plans, we have already entered into the solid dosage market with the range from GEA for world class tablet presses and the state of art Lyophilisers from Lyophill GEA.
Apart from all this each of our principals are launching new products like the unique washer cum steriliser from Fedegari, online decontamination of bio waste from Actini, latest inspection machine from Brevetti, super technology for leak testing of vials/ampoules from Bonfiglioli. The state of art technology for the water industry from Stilmas Groninger is in the process of introducing their top of the line filling range in India. These products are already being introduced directly to the users in the industry.
What percent of global revenues comes from the life sciences packaging industry? How much of that comes from India? What are your plans to increase your market share in the Indian life sciences packaging market?
I am not in a position to quantify the exact figures but I would guess that India might be sharing a very small part of the pie. We are aware that there is a high growth in the life sciences business and as such we are targeting those companies with our range of products and are fine-tuning our products to suit their needs.