Clariant (www.healthpack.clariant.com)’s Healthcare Packaging segment is expanding production capacity at its U.S. site in Belen, NM, for desiccant canisters and packets. The expansion features new equipment and processes, enabling an increase in production capacity of its desiccant canisters for high-speed insertion and its wide range of desiccant packets, including Continu-Strip hole-punch packets.
The expansion will help support increasing demand for desiccants. “More and more drugs present solubility concerns today, so formulators are doing more to make drugs bioavailable, such as increasing the use of special delivery systems and excipients,” explains Mark Florez, marketing & communications manager, Clariant Healthcare Packaging, Business Line Medical Specialties. “As a result, these formulations are more vulnerable to moisture and oxygen.”
Florez also sees market demand for longer product shelf lives, especially from drug companies that want to reduce the number of production runs. “We are seeing companies currently running campaigns six times a year that want to run only three times per year,” he says.
In addition to increasing capacity, the new equipment will also support the Belen site’s already established Operational Excellence program based on Clariant Excellence (CLNX), the Clariant-wide initiative that fosters a culture of continuous improvement, reports Andy Walti, vice president and head of Business Line Medical Specialties. “Clariant Excellence is a long-term initiative with Lean Sigma as its key core methodology. Strategic improvement projects are executed to sustainably position Clariant at the top levels of performance,” he told PMP News.
“The design, implementation, and qualification of these investments for Healthcare Packaging are fully in line with Clariant Excellence systems and methodologies in order to provide the best quality and value to our customers,” Walti continues. “We are laser focused on responding to market and customer needs with traditional, proven product lines as well as new innovative solutions.”
The new equipment includes machinery and tooling for manufacturing Clariant’s universalized canister and packet sorbent platforms. “For canisters this includes state-of-the-art cluster-based production equipment, effectively streamlining all relevant processes from injection molding of the canisters to desiccant filling and assembly,” explains Walti. “Like Clariant’s other production lines, the new equipment will be complete with vision inspection systems to check one hundred percent of the canisters for quality.” For packets, the company “is augmenting its substantial capacity with yet more multi-lane form-fill-and-seal machines complete with automatic reel winders. The machinery will manufacture hole-punch Continu-Strip desiccant packets that can be universally run on customers’ existing insertion equipment or inserters readily available on the market.”
When asked whether the new equipment would be serving any specific customer projects, Walti told PMP News that “the new equipment is not customer-specific, but a sheer response to market trends and increasing demand for Clariant’s desiccants and specialized sorbents. While the majority of canisters and packets are standard desiccant sorbents like silica gel, they can also be customized with special sorbent or humectant properties. But by utilizing standard platforms, customers do not have to make modifications to their existing packaging process or equipment.”
Clariant Healthcare Packaging is also incorporating Lean Six Sigma methodologies “to ensure the highest quality and consistency of its products,” the company reported in a press release.
Süd-Chemie Inc. officially became part of Clariant Corp. earlier this year, with its Performance Packaging business forming the foundation of Clariant’s Healthcare Packaging segment, a member of Clariant’s Medical Specialties Business Line. Healthcare Packaging exhibited with Clariant’s Masterbatches Business Unit at Interphex in April in New York City.