Sergio Naveda
Grupo ACF
View from the Top

Unparalleled Integration Provides Water Purifier With Advantages

Wed, 09/05/2018 - 09:33

Q: How does Grupo ACF distinguish itself in the pharmaceutical sector?

A: Our most popular product in the pharmaceutical segment is water purifiers, since all water used in the industry has to be thoroughly purified. We provide key-in-hand projects that include design, engineering, installation, automation and certification for all systems. Our systems are designed to treat any water source for the manufacture of solids, liquids and injectables. We are leaders in the manufacture of water purifiers and we have built over 100 projects for the pharmaceutical industry. We have worked with national companies, including Pisa, Sanfer, Liomont and Grupo Neolpharma, but we also have worked with international companies, including Becton Dickinson, Pfizer, Sanofi, Merck, AbbVie and Teva. Between 70 and 80 percent of our market is targeted to the pharmaceutical industry and the rest is divided between food, beverage and oil and gas.

Q: How have changes in the pharmaceutical segment influenced Grupo ACF’s growth?

A: During the last 10 years, we have seen a contraction in manufacturing by international companies due to the elimination of a former law that required all sellers in Mexico to have a local manufacturing plant. This led big pharma companies to eliminate many manufacturing plants. As the international industry declined, the manufacture of generics grew at a highly accelerated pace. Today, 70 percent of our products are headed to Mexican companies and the rest to international businesses.

As patents expire, local companies can start manufacturing these products, which balances the market. This trend will continue in the coming years as the market becomes globalized, while the increase in M&A in the sector reduces the number of players. Throughout these years, Grupo ACF has grown as Mexican companies replaced the facilities that once were operated by international manufacturers.

Q: How is Grupo ACF incorporating the latest technology into its water purification systems?

A: We have patented Aquaflow, a water production tool for oral solids and liquids. We are constantly innovating in our products to incorporate the latest technologies in our water purifiers, such as electrodialysis reversal membranes (EDR), electrodeionization (EDI) and ultrafiltration technology (UF). We are also investing in technology that facilitates sustainability practices. For instance, the equipment used for water purification in the pharmaceutical industry normally uses reverse osmosis technology, which initially rejects 40 percent of the water. Standard equipment processes 1,000L per hour, which means significant waste. For that reason, we are developing technology to recover and reuse that water, which would reduce water waste by up to 10 percent.

Q: What are Grupo ACF’s competitive advantages?

A: Our level of integration has almost no competition worldwide, as many companies buy or outsource many of the processes we do in-house. One of our divisions specializes in water purification and our project division manages the complete integration of all processes, including automation. We also have a division for equipment manufacturing. Another one of our strengths is our people and we have also kept up-to-date on certifications, including ASME, ISO and GMP practices.

Q: Hos is Grupo ACF’s using its strong position in Mexico to expand to other countries?

A: Grupo ACF covers Mexico and other countries such as Guatemala, El Salvador, Cuba and Colombia. We plan to continue expanding through the Andes region, Peru, Costa Rica and Dominican Republic. Operating in countries further south becomes more complex, as Argentina has good development in these markets. Entering the US market is extremely complex, especially taking into account that it is a very protectionist country and the recent trade negotiations. Unfortunately the prestige of national products for this industry lacks acceptance in international markets.