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Contract Packagers Expand to Meet Demand
Pharmaceutical manufacturers frequently depend on third-party assistance to package products. In fact, contract packaging for the personal-care and pharmaceutical industries is poised for extensive growth through 2018, according to the State of the Contract Packaging Report 2014, published by the Contract Packaging Association. As a result, contract packagers are expanding capabilities three ways—organically, via acquisition, or by a combination of internal and external actions.
Reed-Lane, for example, has opted to increase capacity from within. After installing a blister packaging line from Uhlmann Packaging Systems in 2013, Reed-Lane recently increased warehouse capacity more than 30% and installed a fifth bottle filling line to help it serve prescription, over-the-counter (OTC), and generic-drug makers. The company also offers compliance packaging, biotech packaging, secondary packaging, pouching, and convenience vial filling as well as package design services.
An MPS 48-16 slat filler from Modular Packaging Systems anchors Reed-Lane’s new bottle-filling line. On the slat filler, an independently driven top brush and powerful vibrator ensure all cavities are filled 100%. Product falls into 16 divided chutes, feeds into a custom funnel, and drops into a group of 16 bottles. Dual extractors eliminate dust buildup in the product hopper area.
The line begins with an AU-3 bottle unscrambler from Kaps-All Packaging Systems and also includes a Met 30+ metal detector from Lock Inspection Systems, a C8 eight-spindle capper from Kaps-All, an AM-250 high-speed induction sealer from AutoMate Technologies, an A6 six-spindle retorquer from Kaps-All, an M500 tamper-evident neck bander from Marburg Industries, a Versaline wrap labeler from Quadrel Labeling Systems that is capable of handling square and round bottles, a SmartDate 5 thermal-transfer printer from Markem-Imaje, an OP 300 label inspection system from Optel Vision, and a rotary topserter from MGS Machine Corp. Dispensers for desiccant sachets or canisters can be engaged as needed.
PL Developments chose the growth-by-acquisition route. A late 2013 merger between the company and Aaron Industries, another private-label manufacturer, has added Aaron’s liquid OTC pharmaceutical and first-aid products to its lineup of solid-dose OTC pharmaceuticals and nutritional supplements. Both firms serve mass merchandisers, stores (e.g., drug stores, grocery chains, convenience stores) drug wholesalers, and consumer packaged goods companies. The combined company operates under the PL Developments name.
Packaging Coordinators, Inc. (PCI) has taken a dual-pronged approach via internal expansion and acquisition. In May 2013, it purchased AndersonBrecon from AmerisourceBergen Corp. The acquisition, accomplished in conjunction with its equity partner Frazier Healthcare, not only enhanced PCI’s US operations, but also gave it a European presence and enlarged its customer base to include 19 of the top 20 pharmaceutical/biotechnology companies in the world. The merged operations occupy approximately two million square feet and consist of more than 140 commercial and clinical packaging suites.
More recently, PCI designed, built, and inaugurated a dedicated facility for packaging cytotoxic products in thermoformed packs. Located in the United Kingdom near existing operations, the regulatory-compliant operation was built and fully validated in 16 weeks. A specially trained team operates the facility, and PCI helped optimize pack materials and format, as well as package artwork, all in accordance with the stringent regulatory requirements associated with this type of product. PCI’s US operations also include space dedicated to packaging cytotoxic products.
—Hallie Forcinio is Pharmaceutical Technology's packaging editor, firstname.lastname@example.org.