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Feb 15, 2012 (Vol. 32, No. 4)

Bioinstrument Manufacturers Go Global

  • ATMI

    ATMI has two main manufacturing facilities where single-use film, bioprocess vessels, powder transfer vessels, and bioreactor vessels are produced. One is located in America—Bloomington, MN—and the other in Hoegaarden, Belgium. A third facility in Brussels, Belgium, focuses on application studies and continued development of bioprocess and cell culture technologies.

    The bulk of the manufacturing for ATMI is done in the Hoegaarden facility, with the Minnesota plant acting as a process copy to provide local manufacturing for North America and to guarantee the availability of a back-up facility for global support.

    “We feel that it is imperative to have redundant and strategically located manufacturing facilities for multiple reasons,” said Jeffery Lee Craig, global director of business development and marketing.

    “The two most compelling reasons are: the need for local service in key markets to be competitive (e.g., shipping costs, delivery timing) and the necessity for redundancy as a key factor to ensure supply chain security and risk reduction for all customers globally.”

    Should one manufacturing facility ever have an issue, the other will still be able to generate identical materials for customers and partners, noted Craig.

    “These factors are exceptionally important given the nature of products that we sell and our customers’ requirement to have secure access to bags for processing, storage, and transportation in order to keep their own manufacturing processes running on time,” he added.

    “This is a global economy and our customer base is everywhere; not just in the U.S. We are all familiar with the emerging Eastern markets ready for Western innovation, but it is interesting these days to see Eastern innovation targeting U.S. and European markets.

    “As ATMI continues to grow globally, we will work to create new manufacturing processes that will include the addition of facilities and partnerships for production in different markets.”

    Although ATMI does manufacture some of its products in the U.S., a key point that is once again being driven home is that manufacturing operations are established to satisfy “the need for local service in key markets to be competitive.”

  • Sartorius Stedim Biotech

    Although headquartered in Aubagne, France, Sartorius Stedim Biotech has a well-developed international network of production facilities. For example, the company’s membrane filters are made in a U.S. territory—Yauco, Puerto Rico—as well as in Goettingen, Germany. In addition to Goettingen, Aubagne, and Yauco, other major manufacturing sites include Melsungen, Germany; Bangalore, India; and Mahdia, Tunisia.

    “To be close to our customers and to minimize turnaround and processing times, we mostly supply our markets directly from our production facilities,” explained company spokesperson Dominic Grone. “This gives us advantages both in logistics and in compensating for currency risks by natural hedging.”

    To ensure security of supply, which is especially important for pharmaceutical companies that use the company’s products, Sartorius Stedim Biotech manufactures its key products not at a single site, but rather at several locations. For instance, single-use bags for its pharmaceutical customers are manufactured in Au­bagne, Yauco, and Mahdia.

    “By building a new and advanced facility for final assembly and packaging of disposable filters, single-use bags, and selected laboratory products, we are currently expanding our Puerto Rico plant as our central manufacturing and logistics site to serve the North American market,” added Grone.

  • Waters

    The fact that biotech instrument manufacturing takes place where companies believe it is most needed, including in the U.S., was pointed out during an interview with Waters.

    Headquartered in Milford, MA, Waters makes its liquid chromatography (LC) columns at its facilities in Taunton, MA, and Wexford, Ireland. The Wexford facility also manufactures and distributes certain data, instruments, and software components for the company’s LC, mass spec (MS), and thermal analysis product lines.

    Waters makes most of its MS products in Wexford, Manchester, U.K., and Cheshire, U.K. Certain components or modules of the company’s MS instruments are manufactured by long-standing outside contractors.

    Waters has established a manufacturing Center of Excellence in Singapore for routine production. Tom Wesley, director, strategy and operations excellence, noted that this was part of a larger strategy to upgrade the U.S. location in Milford as a Center of Innovation for new product development.

    “While certain products have been transferred for manufacture in Asia, it is a common misconception that jobs have been outsourced,” said Wesley. “In fact, the workload in Milford has shifted to these higher value added activities. The workforce in Milford has been stable for the last five years.”

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