Germany-headquartered GEA is one of the largest technology suppliers and integrators for food processing and other industries such as pharma and chemicals. With a total turnover of 4.7 billion Euros, the global group specializes in machinery, plants, as well as process technology and components. GEA offers sustainable solutions for sophisticated production processes in diverse end-user markets and provides a comprehensive service portfolio.
The company has more than 100 years of experience in the pharmaceutical, nutraceutical, biopharmaceutical, and biotechnology processes and manufacturing. GEA claims this expertise helps it to tackle the challenges and hurdles that enterprises face to achieve specific goals. Over time, GEA has established its name as a single-source supplier of process equipment for batch and continuous tablet production, contained materials handling, fermentation, separation and lyophilization.
Arco Hamelink, vice president – solutions at GEA, speaks about the various product lines and says, “We have a full range of high-end liquid and solid dosage manufacturing technology for oral solid dosage forms, semi-solids, parenteral and sterile liquids. With the range of R&D technologies in which we are early involved, and with the knowledge derived from successful installations all over the world, we are the trusted partner of choice for customers. Moreover, we have also developed specific technologies to help our customers.”
GEA was one of the key exhibitors at CPhI & Pmec held from 26 to 28 November 2019 at Greater Noida. The company showcased three of its pharma related business units – biopharma for vaccination technology, liquid processing for freeze-drying technology; and, solids or powder processing such as drying and preparations for granulations and tablet presses.
From batch to continuous processes
According to Hamelink, the earlier paradigm in the pharmaceutical industry was of processes mostly designed as a batch process – which usually had small production rooms, each with a dedicated technology. As per current practice, he explains, “Over the last decade we have designed a technology to integrate all the fragmented process steps into one integrated line. GEA was first to market with this continuous technology. We can proudly say that we have brought down the time from ingredient to tablet manufacturing where it earlier took from 2 to 3 weeks, to half an hour. It is interesting to look at most of our range that is focused on patient room.”
He adds that all the pharmaceutical companies have incorporated integrated technologies in their manufacturing processes, “It is a really interesting discovery for us. We have seen how continuous integration is adopted, and that how it received a further push not only by the customers but also from competitors.”
Design and manufacturing in Baroda
Hamelink speaks about his company’s manufacturing plant in India, “We have a fully localized design and manufacturing setup in Baroda, Gujarat. GEA transferred standard designs developed in Europe over the years, to our Indian team. And based on those designs, we manufacture machines locally in India, particularly for the full manufacturing of solids. For liquids, to some extent, technology comes from Europe, and some of it we do locally. Tablet presses are fully produced in Belgium, and then they are supplied from there to all customers across the world. In Baroda, we have a big design team that supplies design resources and develops know-how for the GEA global community.”
In addition, GEA has a responsible view on sustainability, and to reduce its carbon footprint, the company has a variety of technology to support this effort.
Making life much easier
Arco says in conclusion, “We are the only player in the market that owns integrated processes required for liquid and solid dose manufacturing. We are leading, and we continue to develop this further with an Integrated Process Analytical Technology (PAT) approach to help our customers and to adopt new technologies faster. We have developed an environment where we train, to let operators experience how the technology feels and looks when they are walking around it. We find that when you expose people to this environment, the learning is almost instantaneous!”