Ouali Madjid
Head of Latin America and Caribbean Industrial Measurements Division
Vaisala
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View from the Top

Maintaining Quality Through Innovation

By Rodrigo Brugada | Wed, 07/14/2021 - 14:22

Q: How will the acquisition of K Patent, a market leader in in-line process refractometers for industrial applications, strengthen your healthcare capabilities?

A: Vaisala has a long history dealing, interacting, providing products and solutions and servicing the life science sector. We have a comprehensive understanding of the regulatory landscape and the pharma-specific expectations and needs.

K Patent acquisition has been a successful and strategic move. In addition to further strengthening our offer to this key sector, it opens up new opportunities, now in the liquid measurement market. This acquisition enables us to expand our offering to the production processes and provides us an entirely new spectrum of possibilities. K Patent’s refractometer is designed for pharmaceutical and biotechnology manufacturing and measures liquid concentrations in-line (in-situ) throughout the process development. Some of its applications include processing active pharmaceutical ingredients, biochemical/biopolymers, vaccines, antibiotics, proteins and buffer solutions.

Q: Aside from acquisitions, how is Vaisala innovating its product offering, considering the company reinvests 13 percent of its revenue in R&D?

A: Vaisala products and systems are based on our proprietary leading technologies. Our in-house cleanroom facility and sensor factory are our core capabilities.

Product leadership, one of the Vaisala core strategies, requires long-term commitment and investment in R&D. Our curiosity and desire to be the best option in solving problems for our customers have been our fuel to improve the performance of our products and to find new applications and parameters for measurements.

We recently launched a new R&D and innovation center in our HQ in Helsinki, Finland, to further boost innovations for a sustainable future. The new R&D center is a unique arena for product development, including all levels from starting co-innovation with customers to hardware and software design, development and testing.

In addition to our research and development efforts, we are an active player in the scientific community worldwide. The most emblematic example is our participation in space exploration programs with NASA for over 30 years, in projects such as the Curiosity and Perseverance rover’s missions.

Q: How does your experience in Mexico provide valuable feedback for your renewals?

A: Despite globalization and the relative homogeneity in the use of certain technologies in different regions, markets may have their own specific needs and expected values, a fact even more important in a niche market like ours. The closeness and interaction with users and engineers are critical to developing the right solutions. At Vaisala, there is much interaction between product and development areas and regions. We want to ensure that our markets' specific needs and challenges are at the center of our developments.

We are aware of the potential and attractiveness of Mexico’s extensive manufacturing capabilities for pharmaceutical and medical devices. Our direct presence has precisely the objective of being actively and proactively involved in understanding this market's challenges, pain points and needs. There are a lot of learnings and experiences to gain from dealing with such a large and challenging market.

Q: How did Vaisala support its clients during the COVID-19 pandemic?

A: To a global extent, this unprecedented pandemic brought many challenges. Our business focuses on many sensitive sectors for the basic needs of human beings, these sectors were not severely hit and their recovery happened relatively fast.

From the beginning, we were attentive. Our collaborators have been vital in this experience, taking an exemplary attitude as professionals in being close to our customers and showing commitment and dedication to serving them. In the manufacturing plant we did an outstanding job in ensuring our support and deliveries remained optimal for all clients. We have even prepared to shovel possible delivery failures of our competitors and solve the specific needs of our occasional common customers.

In Mexico, I would like to mention the extraordinary work of our partner’s network, which has been instrumental in capturing the specific needs and putting in place the proper logistics setup for better coverage nationwide.

Q: What role are your measurement solutions playing in the safe development, production, sourcing and distribution of vaccines?

A: Vaisala supports pharmaceutical and biotechnology research and development, production and warehousing applications with superior accuracy, reliable instruments and systems and a broad range of services. This support is extended to vaccines. We measure a wide range of critical parameters such as humidity, temperature, hydrogen peroxide, carbon dioxide, compressed air, barometric and differential pressures.

Our ViewLinc continuous monitoring system is another unique and best-in-class solution for the sector. It is designed to monitor environmental conditions in the manufacturing and storage of high-value sensitive products like medicines and vaccines. Designed to comply with global regulations for GxP and controlled environments, Vaisala solutions safeguard quality, safety and efficacy while ensuring regulatory compliance in pharmaceutical and biotechnology applications.

Q: Supply chain continuity was challenged during the COVID-19 pandemic. How can Mexico begin to build a self-sufficient supply chain for healthcare?

A: The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed how vulnerable the supply chain is in crucial industries. It was a challenge even for the most advanced economies.

Mexico has built great capabilities from production to distribution. However, due to healthcare's strategic and economic significance and its high technicity, Mexico needs to improve its value chain. Having a privileged geographical situation and numerous free trade agreements, Mexico could capitalize on the rebalancing of manufacturing localizations that is looming in the future.

This approach must be supported by building local capacities throughout the whole chain. Digitalization of the supply chain and the rise of new technologies, such as sensors in logistics, robots in production and machine learning to deliver powerful analytics, can help companies anticipate problems, address them, respond to risks and plan for contingencies.

Q: Sustainability is also a growing global concern. What is Vaisala doing to guarantee sustainable practices and services in the health chain?

A: Through our mission “Observations for a better world”, and whether it is in the solutions we offer or in our practices, sustainability is at the very heart of our business. By measuring the environment or a process accurately, our customers can make more reliable decisions and ensure more efficient, safer and more sustainable operations in any application area.

Vaisala has reduced its emissions, achieving our target of using 100 percent renewable electricity in our manufacturing plants in 2020. Vaisala is proud to be in the top of the 300 European Climate Leaders 2021 Financial Times, together with Statista, has listed.

Q: What opportunities do you see for Mexico to grow its R&D capabilities in the pharmaceutical industry?

A: Mexico is the second-largest pharmaceutical market in Latin America with a strong presence of global players and an increasing number of growing national companies. COFEPRIS also enabled faster licensing of new products and allowed Mexico to become one of the most developed markets for generic drugs in the world.

In the long run, to consolidate and continue growing and responding to new challenges, R&D is undoubtedly a key component. However, the pharmaceutical sector must frame all manufacturing and consolidation strategies within an integral vision that considers the ambition and the role Mexico is willing to play at a global, regional and national level.  These strategies must be reinforced with clear policies and world standard regulations to increase competitiveness.

Due to its experience, geographical location, northern and southern markets, human capital and high-level education, Mexico has all the elements to build a solid R&D platform for the sector.

 

Vaisala has 85 years of experience and is specialized in the development, manufacturing and sale of products and services for environmental and industrial measurements.

Rodrigo Brugada Rodrigo Brugada Journalist & Industry Analyst