Italian processing machinery company IMA Group has decided to increase its investment in a Chinese joint venture to tap into a growth market at a time when its established territories in the West are showing lacklustre growth, reports Phil Taylor.
The firm has decided to increase the capital of the Chinese joint venture Zibo IMA Xinhua Pharmatech - specialising in the production of automatic machines for pharmaceutical processing - by $2 million, to which IMA will contribute $1.64m and the Chinese partner Xinhua Medical $360,000.
Commenting on this decision Alberto Vacchi, IMA's managing director, said: "Trends in these first six months have not shown the improvement in the external scenario that we considered possible. The demand for plant and machinery on the part of the pharmaceutical industry has been weak, especially on European markets, while the pressure on prices, which was a feature of 2004, has got worse."
Vacchi noted that the reinforcement of IMA's industrial presence in China will allow the Zibo joint venture to expand its production volumes considerably, with sales aimed principally at China's domestic market, as well as emerging markets in South East Asia.
Despite the problems in Europe, Vacchi said he expects sales volumes will remain at levels previously announced, with market shares improving slightly, though this will entail some sacrifices in terms of industrial margins.
Without going into detail, he added that IMA has taken steps to limit fixed and selling costs, and is working to achieve a considerable reduction in the cost of products sold.
"This will put us in a stronger position to take advantage of the opportunities offered by the inevitable recovery in demand for plant from the pharmaceutical industry, which continues to turn in strong rates of growth, at a time when the supply side is beginning a process of rationalisation and consolidation," he added.
In 2006, IMA will see an improvement in margins on new orders, helped by the current reinforcement of the US dollar."
New tablet counter
Meanwhile, the Italian company's subsidiary, IMA-NOVA, said it will introduce a new range of high-speed electronic tablet counters at the Pack Expo exhibition in Las Vegas, US, in September.
The new CONTA series of tablet counters can handle speeds of up to 30,000 tablets per minute (300 bottles/minute at 100 count) in a compact footprint, and is claimed to be the only counter on the market that can reject a single tablet - eliminating the need to reject a full bottle and rework the contents.
This is achieved by a patent pending camera vision system, according to IMA, which can identify rogue tablets/capsules for shape, colour and integrity and remove them before they enter the bottle.
The company claims the system has 100 per cent count accuracy, and the integrity checking removes the worry of rogue tablets entering the wrong bottle and the marketplace.
The system is fully automatic, requires no part changing and is easy to clean, said IMA-NOVA.