The Optima Group's presence at this year's Interphex show in New York was significant as it gave In-PharmaTechnologist.com the first look at the Group's recently implemented shift in focus, resulting in a product range expansion and a raft of acquisitions to complement its major areas of operation.
Optima, an industry provider of production, filling, and packaging equipment, as well as automation technology, IT, and production data acquisition, have stated its intention to focus on pharmaceuticals as well as the paper hygiene and the consumer industry.
Its spate of acquisitions is proof of this. November's acquisition of Klee, a company specialising in pharmaceutical freeze dryers was with the specific intention of complementing Optima's existing inova product line already available in the aseptic filling field.
Lyophilization, also called freeze-drying is increasingly becoming popular within the sector as they are used for the preservation of liquid drugs and it is a favoured method of drying vaccines, pharmaceuticals and diagnostics.
The pharmaceutical contract manufacturing market is moving beyond providing traditional services, and is focusing on tapping the large demand for specialised niche technologies.
Contract Manufacturing Organisations (CMOs) have been building state-of-the-art facilities that rival those of pharmaceutical companies and are constantly upgrading them to enable novel manufacturing processes.
According to Frost and Sullivan, the anticipated influx of biopharmaceuticals, especially oncology products and sterile injectables, is likely to create huge opportunities for specialised manufacturing technologies that are not available with pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical companies.
Lyophilization is one such technology that is in huge demand in the biopharmaceuticals segment, as it requires a high degree of automation and productivity as well as continuous quality assurance.
Indeed, latest figures suggest that the >Optima Group is attempting to establish themselves into something that is expected to grow exponentially in the near future.
According to Pharmabiz.com, the worldwide revenue for contract manufacturing and research for the pharmaceutical industry was estimated at $100 billion in 2004 and is expected to increase at an average annual growth rate (AAGR) of 10.8 per cent to $168 billion in 2009.
Injectables are expected to show the highest growth during the next few years with the demand for specialised technologies and services such as sterile products, biopharmaceuticals, and lyophilization likely to drive the market to a significant extent.
Of course, with growth in the technology comes the inevitable expectation of improved quality control and standards. Production facilities not only face an ever increasing competition, but also the need to comply with various government and industry regulations, which places higher demands on all company operations.
If, in addition to all this, if a company is a supplier to an Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM), there are essentially more quantity requirements to be met.
auto.con, a member of the Optima Group, took the opportunity to demonstrate its Linemaster - a concept that controls all participants of a production line with a master control, optimising line behaviour.
The Linemaster allows all line participants of a production line to be integrated in the line control. This transfers all general data to the components and takes the specific data of the single components into consideration.
Initiated by the line master the data distribution takes place within the production line, but also between the line predecessors and successors.
The benefits are paramount. The complete production line can be optimised by targeted analyses of the production process and by the recording and evaluation of all production relevant data.
In addition, the central control through the Line master makes a coordinate and faster restart of the line components possible after e.g. a production stop or an emergency standstill.
Optima said that they expected such machine innovations account for a large portion of the sales for 2006, significantly above the previous year.
Consolidated sales are expected to amount to €120 million in 2005 and are likely to further increase in 2006.
Traditionally, research and development plays an important role at Optima. About 10 per cent of sales are invested in R&D.