Frederic Dietrich
CEO
Dec
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Powder Handling Complexity Resolved

By Miriam Bello | Thu, 03/11/2021 - 08:36

Q: What role do Dec’s solutions play in the pharmaceutical and chemical industries?

A: Dec is a family business founded more than 30 years ago. We are dedicated to safe powder handling through containment applications. Dec develops its own technologies, among them the Power Transfer System (PTS), which uses both vacuum and pressure to move powders as if they were liquids. This eliminates the need for gravity charging, making multifloor processes a thing of the past. Thanks to this development, we have been able to grow from the chemical industry to the pharmaceutical sector as PTS allows mixing, dosing and sampling. It allows diverse filling methods as we have improved the system to handle large or small powder quantities.

Product development for pharma is one of our strengths. However, manufacturing can be more challenging. Dec’s work begins at laboratories, especially with ingredient mixing, which is normally done through sophisticated machines. It is here where we try to propose a higher industrialization of facilities by introducing our technology, which is targeted to improve efficiency and safety.

Q: How representative is the pharmaceutical industry for Dec’s operations?

A: I would equally divide our work with the pharmaceutical industry in two areas. The first is API production. This is the area where Dec’s solutions are predominant and where we have developed technology to enable strict conditions of operation due to manufacturing complexity, as companies handle extremely dust-explosive and hazardous materials. Dec also provides solutions for formulation and primary packaging processes. The pharmaceutical industry represents 60-70 percent of our activities.

Q: How do Dec’s business lines contribute to growing your added value?

A: We have four main divisions. The first is technology, where we develop unique products that respond to advanced needs. The second division is engineering, where we integrate different technologies into a project. We do not just sell a machine, we sell a solution. The third division is consulting, where we advise our customers and communicate our new solutions to the potential market. The last division is services, where we offer global customer field support to make sure operations run smoothly.

Q: How have you adapted your technology to the Mexican pharmaceutical industry?

A: Just as in other countries, our solutions have been very well received in Mexico. We always make sure to comply with each country’s requirements and follow the principles of protecting people and the environment. Our company is committed to each regulatory system and we work on building effective solutions through constant improvement.

Q: What success case can you share in handling contained powders in the pharmaceutical industry?

A: One of our multinational clients has a facility in Central America and they faced regulation changes that they had to comply with. To do so, they basically needed to change their facilities to ensure distancing of people and goods, as there was no way to comply with the regulation with their current spaces. Dec was able to provide a solution to keep the company running by adapting part of the building.

Q: Which of your solutions or products has had the most impact in the pharma industry?

A: Our core business has always been handling powder. This is a very complex task for every facility and companies mostly prefer to work with liquids or solids. We have been able to introduce safe powder transfer that moves from one operation to the next without failure. This has revolutionized the industry because it closes an operation line as it interconnects the entire pharmacochemical process chain. 

Q: What potential do you see for powder handling in Mexico?

A: API production has moved away from Western countries for cost reduction reasons, which is why 80 percent of it is in Asia. Due to the COVID-19 disruptions, the industry saw production lines threatened by the lack of supplies. Western countries have begun to look for ways to bring API manufacturing back, which is an opportunity for Mexico for two reasons. First, the country is right next to the US. Second, the country has built a strong network of pharmaceutical companies. Mexico has all the elements to increase its API production.

Q: What are Dec’s expansion plans in Mexico?

A: We have successfully covered the handling of raw materials for the chemical and pharmacochemical industry. The next step is to reach our customers and use this technology properly. Dec will be working on constant improvement, such as in filling processes. We are also interested in entering vaccine handling and other liquid elements. Vaccines need to be kept at very low temperatures and the industry is looking for different ways to move vaccines. Companies have turned to powder management as an option, to combine it with liquid prior to injection. Dec is developing these packing options for vaccines to make access less complex or less dependent on strict cold chains.

Educating the industry is another goal. We have become a leading actor in the market because we develop innovation for the future. We are always ahead of the curve in terms of understanding the problems associated with pharmaceutical or chemical manufacturing. What is important now is to educate customers and authorities on innovative technologies. This continues to lead us to promote these solutions which, in the end, will increase the growth and productivity of other companies.

 

Dietrich Engineering Consultants (Dec) is a leading global provider of powder handling and process containment systems for the pharmaceutical, chemical, food and cosmetic industries. The Swiss company offers innovative approaches in powder handling and process containment applications, including transfer, micronizing, filling/emptying, sampling, blending, dosing, aseptic solutions, milling, isolators and advanced cleaning (CIP/SIP) features.

Miriam Bello Miriam Bello Journalist and Industry Analyst