Customizable chemistry

One of the USA’s foremost manufacturers of versatile polymers, Mallard Creek Polymers (MCP) is a name synonymous with quality, technology, and customization

Like the water-based polymers it produces, one of MCP’s greatest assets is its adaptability. From its origins in former petrochemical corporation Unocal, MCP has grown and adjusted over the years to become a highly effective, environmentally conscious, privately held small business. Though the company has always been focused on the same core science and technology that allows it to build a wide range of highly advanced water-based polymers, MCP prides itself on maintaining an unrivalled flexibility in its approach to business.

“I find it interesting that, throughout my time here, we’ve made substantial changes every five to ten years,” says Robert Beyersdorf, the company’s General MCP 178 aManager and Vice President. “As you can see from our history, major changes are happening more rapidly now than ever before. I think it’s mainly because the world is changing so fast and our competitive environment is changing with it. The fun part for us is that our products are so valuable that there are constantly new ways to use them. A water-based polymer can be continuously adapted and I think we will see this adaptation occurring at an even quicker pace moving forward.”

The way MCP has negotiated the challenges presented by 2020’s Covid-19 pandemic is an example of the firm’s flexibility in action. “As a company, we’ve been able to adapt very quickly and solve problems,” Robert states. “We asked ourselves questions, such as how does a customer-centric business deal with working from home when it can’t meet its clients face-to-face? How do we drive forward new projects when many R&D people cannot access a laboratory? We feel there is nothing good about the current environment, but we are lucky in the way that adaptability is an integral part of this business. We are always proving that we can adapt to situations and still be highly effective.”

Sustainability efforts
With in-house departments dedicated to innovation, development, manufacture, and sales, MCP produces water-based emulsion polymers that are safe and environmentally friendly alternatives to those that are solvent-borne. This means that many of the company’s products are used in applications like packaging substitutes to traditional plastics. The innately positive environmental credentials of MCP’s polymers are a key part of the company’s wider green agenda.

“At our core, we are offering environmentally sustainable products because they are water-based,” Robert explains. “We start with hazardous raw materials, such as flammables and explosives, and we convert these to non-hazardous polymers that our customers can use. We have an environmentally sustainable footprint because of the types of products we offer.

“Our sustainability efforts go further than that though. For around 15 years, we have been a member of the Carolina Star programme, which recognizes a company’s ability to control hazards. We have also received an Environmental Excellence Award from Charlotte Water every year since 2008. The make-up of our product means that half of what we sell is actually water, so we are constantly driving to reduce our water consumption and make sure that the water we send off-site is actually cleaner than the water we bring onto it. We are always looking for ways to reduce our footprint on the environment, and the next step for us is to bring more renewable carbons into the manufacture of our polymers, which will help to reduce the amount of volatile organics we put into the air.”

As Robert suggests, innovative chemistry and intelligent processes play an important role in setting MCP apart from its competition. Founded on the core technology of Unocal, MCP has grown significantly since 2002, making a number of vital technology acquisitions along the way. In 2008, a major deal provided the firm with new chemistries, including nitrile elastomers and thickeners, as well as adding to its portfolio of acrylics and styrene-butadiene products. Alongside its active pursuit of more renewable processes, in 2018 MCP purchased German emulsion polymer company Ecronova®, a move that added ambient cure crosslinking and environmentally friendly APEO-free technology to the firm’s growing list of capabilities.

“While we don’t necessarily see ourselves out-innovating some of our very large and strong science-based competitors, we do things differently,” Robert claims. “We like to say that we are chemistry agnostic; we don’t offer the market the chemistry we have, we create and find the chemistry the market needs. We are focused on all the major markets for emulsion polymers and water based polymers, and our approach is to actually offer the chemistry that is best for the user, so we are regularly on the lookout for new technologies to employ and new products to market.”

Customized solutions
MCP’s commitment to supporting the individual needs of each one of its customers is a central part of the company’s continued success. The high flexibility of the firm’s manufacturing facility means that every batch produced can be a different product, enabling MCP to serve the unique requirements of specific customers.

“For us, collaboration is key,” Roberts asserts. “Our business model is driven by customization and creating close relationships with our clients. We provide services like private labelling and drop shipping, but we also custom formulate for clients at times. For example, a customer may ask us to make a mixture for them and they MCP 178 bwill then sell that as their own. If one of our key product lines can’t meet their needs, we are happy to work hand-in-hand with the customer on modification of the polymer, application testing, and doing everything we can to make sure the new product meets all their requirements.

“There was one instance recently where a company we work with determined that our product was not quite meeting their requirements with regards to formulation stability. Our R&D team worked very closely with the client and we made new batches every day while the customer tested them. In less than 45 days, we had a new product that not only addressed customer’s issues but was also APEO-free. In two and a half months we had created a brand-new product that combined the issue of customization with contemporary regulatory trends in the industry.”

In the company’s early days, after building a strong team with vast experience, MCP set out to ensure that its entire workforce understood the importance of being customer focused. Robert suggests the most crucial part of this process remains the creation of a working culture that revolves around ‘saying yes’.

“Many companies out there say they are customer focused, but then when you start to interact with them, there are many things they won’t do for their clients,” Robert remarks. “Now, there are certainly things we tell our customers that we would prefer not to do, but we always explain why, and look for alternative options. Generally, though, MCP is focused on saying yes to its customers. Our approach across the organization is to find a way to meet the requirements of the customer while still doing everything right at the company.

“Of course, there aren’t any specific training modules we can use to instill this kind of culture, but when new employees see this behavior demonstrated around our business, and see the changes we are willing to make in terms of product specifications or formulation, they start to understand how we work. In terms of our supply chain and manufacturing team especially, we work very hard to make sure they understand why we are doing what we are doing, and why we are so focused on creating customized solutions for our clients. A lot of our training comes through interaction and talking about the ‘why’, rather than the ‘what’ or ‘how’.”

European expansion
Looking to the future, MCP has a number of new products on the horizon. Currently, the company is preparing to release a custom Tylac® polymer for a client that has been working in close partnership with the firm to create a polymer that meets a specific density requirement for concrete. At the other end of the spectrum MCP recently released Rovene® 6120, an all-acrylic polymer that offers a balance of properties within elastomeric roof coatings. Developed using science from the firm’s Ecronova purchase, Rovene 6120 employs wet adhesion monomer technology to produce a highly functionalized, pure acrylic latex that can last on roofs for up to 25 years.

“We have taken this product through all the third-party testing and are ready to launch it across the market,” Robert declares. “I think it demonstrates MCP’s new emphasis on creating innovative, cutting-edge products. Thanks to our growing R&D department and newly acquired technology, we can add this type of work to our portfolio, while still focusing enough R&D energy on customization to ensure that our customers still come first.”

In terms of MCP’s global aspirations, after focusing on the Americas for most of its history, the company is now turning its attention to Europe. The purchase of German technology Ecronova in 2018 led to the formation of MCP Europe. With a team built from Ecronova’s former employees, and highly innovative science quite different to that which MCP currently possesses, MCP Europe is already beginning to thrive.

“The EU region has been crying out for a firm like us that can offer customization, so our business model has been greatly accepted by the European customer base,” Robert reveals. “The focus in Europe has mostly been on Ecronova products and technology, but we’re now starting to bring out MCP services that we offer in the Americas as well. We are very excited about the progress we’ve made so far and are looking forward to continued growth.”

Mallard Creek Polymers
Products: Water-based emulsion polymers

Blockbuster films

Already reaping the benefits of a brand new $40 million production facility, Madico is an innovative films and coatings manufacturer that continues to solve modern problems through invention and imagination

For many businesses that have thrived for over 100 years, one key to longevity is an ability to adapt. This is particularly true of Madico. Now one of the world’s leading manufacturers of materials-based solutions, Madico was formed in 1903 as a producer and supplier of leather postcards.

“I doubt most people these days have ever seen one of those,” CEO Shawn Kitchell laughs. “It just goes to show how far we’ve progressed. After leather postcards, the company moved into wrapping paper, a complimentary product, and then commercialized wide-web metallization for shiny wrapping paper and tinsel, before Madico 178 aarriving at the wide range of coated and laminated products we offer today. Products that are used in places as varied as homes and automobiles to buildings around the world and even the International Space Station. Time and time again, Madico has proven its credentials as an innovative organization with the ability to change and adapt.”

The truth of this statement was in evidence once again this year as Madico switched its focus to the production of face shields during the Covid-19 pandemic. As the virus began to threaten the company’s regular operations, Shawn and his team acted quickly, pivoting the firm’s business model and transforming Madico into a manufacturer of vital Safe-Gard® face shield protection equipment at a rate of 12,000 face shields per day.

“There was a real need in local healthcare and emergency response departments for that kind of product,” Shawn recalls. “Face shields were not something we had made before, but I’m very proud to say that we were able to respond to the requests of the local community. Within two weeks we created a design, made a prototype, got it field tested by emergency responders and medical professionals, had it ANSI certified, created a production process, and started making products. Thanks to the continued hard work of our employees, we’ve made hundreds of thousands of face shields that have gone out to help local healthcare professionals. Not only has the work given us the opportunity to play a role in the fight against the Coronavirus but it has also allowed us to keep our workforce employed and fully engaged during this time of global slowdown. Our flexibility has facilitated another huge success for the business.”

Industry-leading quality
In terms of products, Madico divides its core offering into four sectors: window films, specialty solutions, diversified business, and a sister company, VDI, specializing in metallization. Serving a wide range of applications and markets, Madico is responsible for the manufacture of natural disaster protection films, materials that protect against electromagnetic radiation in aircraft, customizable screen protector films and cutting equipment, anti-graffiti products, roofing material, and hundreds of other filmic solutions in use around the world today.

“Our safety and security films are widely regarded as the best in the industry,” Shawn declares. “Our industry-leading quality and clarity is well-respected among our clients and we strive to excel in establishing relationships, delivering outstanding service, and providing value. We work hard to partner with our customers in a collaborative way so that we can create win-win solutions for everyone.”

Later this year, Madico plans to add two new products to its existing range. Scheduled for release in July 2020, the company’s latest solutions look to answer the growing demand for films that improve cleanliness and hygiene control by limiting the spread of bacteria.

“The persistence of Covid-19 means we are seeing a need for these types of products in the marketplace,” Shawn reveals. “We’ve actually had our Neutralux® antimicrobial coating for some time, but we’re relaunching an enhanced version of that product. It’s an incredibly versatile material and, once approved, it will be usable on practically any surface - counter tops, tables, desks, or wherever suits the customer.

“We are also launching a second antimicrobial product that we call MicrobeX®, which is a completely different technology that we developed specifically for device protection. Screen protectors on phones require different characteristics to the surface protection of a desk or table because they also require a tactile element that allows you to manipulate the screen. It’s a different kind of technology.”

New facility
Madico’s ability to continue developing and manufacturing pioneering products for its deep and varied customer base received a major boost at the beginning of 2020 when the firm opened a new $40 million headquarters and production site. Located in Pinellas Park, Florida, the 247,000 square-foot site replaced the firm’s two aging former facilities and when fully operational this Fall, will offer a capacity much larger than was previously possible.Madico 178 b

“The key advantage of our new site is the abundance of additional capabilities it offers,” Shawn states. “We can do things we simply could not do before. The long ovens, additional coating technology, and facility configuration allow us to run faster linespeeds and operate more efficiently. Everything is now at one site, including our research center, and the resulting improvement in communication means we can move rapidly from R&D through the pilot scale and up to full production scale. One of the best parts about the new site though is that we still have room to grow. We are not occupying all 13 acres of land and there is potential for expansion both inside and outside the building.

“In terms of equipment, we upgraded and relocated our existing coating lines and finishing center to the new site, adding new capabilities so that they could run faster and process different material sets. Teknikor, a specialist in plant installation and long-time partner of ours, played an integral role in this process and in getting the lines up and running. They disassembled the existing coating lines, moved them to the new site and then, using the designs we provided, and the additional components we bought, reassembled the coating lines and made them operational.”

Close collaborations
Though machinery and technology are vital tools in Madico’s quest to find and produce better solutions, Shawn explains that the company’s in-house Research and Development team is the group most responsible for upholding the company’s reputation for innovation. Though the R&D team commonly collaborate with customers to develop new products, as well as sourcing ideas from academia and Madico’s parent company Lintec Corporation, the group is not afraid to utilize more unorthodox methods in its pursuit of that ‘lightbulb’ moment.

“Although we generally have a stage-gate process, sometimes necessity requires us to think differently as we try to come up with new ideas and new approaches,” Shawn remarks. “Recently, we were challenged with creating a new way to apply our phone screen protectors without a mounting gel, which always took an hour or so to dissipate after application and didn’t look great for new customers. Our team responsible for that product used what we call the Apollo 13 approach. They focused entirely on the problem for 72 hours. They locked themselves away and said okay, our customers have all these machines, this software, these tools, these materials, how can we make this work? For 72 hours they brainstormed, they ran trials, they did a lot of different things until they came up with a very unique dry solution to the problem without the customer having to invest any more money, and without us having to provide any more tools or supplies. It was an example of our mission in action and it was very successful.”

One of the very first entrants into the window film industry, Madico has been a leader in innovation for over 50 years. Along the way, the firm has introduced transformative technology to the mass market including anti-scratch coatings, bomb blast mitigation systems, and most recently, antimicrobial material that could help turn the tide in a global crisis. Where then does the company go next?

“We’ve invested in our new building, we’ve invested in a host of new capabilities, so our intention now is to grow the business,” Shawn affirms. “We want to expand our operation across all sectors - window film, on-demand screen protectors, metallization - but most of all, we see big opportunities in our specialty solutions area. For example, we’re already working with a company called Walter P Moore, one of the top engineering companies in the US, who do a lot of work on stadiums and large structures. We’ve partnered with them to co-invent and develop a new material to replace ETFE roofing on buildings. It’s much stronger, so it requires less support, and it’s clearer, which means it can be customized to meet the needs of the architect or structure. We hope to release this product by the end of the year and we are very optimistic that it will be a big hit in the future. The only way we were able to do this was through a strong collaborative effort with a partner like Walter P Moore. That’s where we see our future, partnering with companies to create new market niches in the specialty solutions sector.”

Products: Films and coatings manufacturer

A vehicle for change

Reimagining the future is all in a day’s work for Arcimoto, the electric vehicle company with a mission to catalyze the shift to more sustainable modes of transport

Mark Frohnmayer might be Arcimoto’s Founder and CEO, but first and foremost, he sees himself as a customer. “I started the company because I wanted the product it would eventually come to build,” he declares. “Arcimoto was born of a felt need that I had for getting around my local area. I was the prototype customer.”

The journey began in 2007 when Mark went in search of a vehicle for everyday driving. Concerned about the growing proliferation of expensive, polluting, oversized automobiles used to travel short distances, Mark was not looking for a car, but something more attuned to the trips people take on a regular basis. The criteria he set Arcimoto 178 awas simple – the vehicle needed to be lightweight, electric, and capable of transporting one or two people, and the things they needed to take with them, over a short distance to their destination. Mark’s quest ended in disappointment.

“I couldn’t find the vehicle I was looking for,” he says. “It just simply did not exist. The closest I came was a three-wheeled kit vehicle I saw at a parade in my hometown. It had two wheels at the front, one wheel at the back, and it was a lightbulb moment for me. I suddenly realized, for the first time in my life, that there is a giant gap between the motorcycle and the car. If you live in Europe or South East Asia, there is usually a lot more filling that gap, but in the US market, there is an ever-widening disparity between the two-wheeled motorized scooter and the large four-wheeled car.”

Following this epiphany, Mark decided to act. He ordered a kit and convinced some friends to help him put it together, but the vehicle still wasn’t right. Though the basic concept of three wheels, motorcycle class efficiency, and a small environmental footprint ticked a number of boxes, Mark wanted more. He needed a vehicle that was faster, that could carry an extra passenger, and that offered a superior ride feel. Unsatisfied with his existing options, Mark concluded that sometimes, if you want something done, it’s best to do it yourself.

“Arcimoto became a company in late 2007 and we actually went through eight distinct design and engineering iterations before we arrived at the platform we ultimately developed,” Mark reveals. “Over the span of the first seven years, we built seven distinct prototypes, all in the three-wheeled Arcimotovehicle space, and where we really felt like we achieved victory was on number eight. That is the platform we first conceived in late 2014. We put it on the road in 2015 in the form of looks-like, works-like prototypes. The prototypes became what is now known as the Fun Utility Vehicle (FUV), our flagship consumer product. It is a unique way for an individual to have a much lighter footprint for getting around town. As the name suggests, it is incredibly fun to drive and very useful for day-to-day trips.”

With a top speed of 75 miles per hour, and up to 102 miles per charge, the FUV is a fully electric two-seater, sustainable transport solution. Built for fun, the vehicle offers a panoramic roof, removable West Coast doors, heated seats, and lockable storage. Highway legal in all 50 US states, a base model FUV will soon be available for just $11,900, meaning more consumers will be able to access revolutionary technology at an affordable price.Arcimoto 178 b

Product portfolio
Using the very same platform as the FUV, Arcimoto recently added two additional products to its portfolio. The first is the Rapid Responder, a lightweight, maneuverable transport solution designed to get first responders to the scene of incidents as quickly as possible. The vehicle is already being trialed in Oregon by the Eugene Springfield Fire Department.

“We took the fundamentals of the FUV and applied those benefits to emergency response,” Mark explains. “The Eugene Springfield Fire Department is our first pilot for the Rapid Responder and one of the things they like is that they can take it on bike paths. We have hundreds of miles of bike paths in Eugene and Springfield, so that’s an advantage that can be very useful in an emergency.

“The Rapid Responder’s vast capabilities extend its effectiveness beyond the realm of emergency medical services to law enforcement, campus security, stadiums, and dense metropolitan areas where full-size ambulances can get stuck in traffic. The vehicle is a viable transport alternative in all these situations.”

The third new product Arcimoto has announced is the Deliverator, a next-generation, last-mile delivery vehicle that can improve delivery times, reduce maintenance, and ultimately, increase revenue. Suitable for transporting a variety of goods, from parcels to takeaway food, the Deliverator is a general-purpose fleet utility vehicle with over 23 cubic feet of storage.

“The FUV, Rapid Responder, and Deliverator represent our core three-product offering, but we are not done yet with the full range of the Arcimoto platform,” Mark proclaims. “We have additional products on the drawing board, but right now, we are very focused on getting our first three vehicles out into the market and building the scale of production on what we have announced so far.

“Now that we have around 100 vehicles out there in the field, we are looking to our early customers and asking them about what works, what doesn’t work, and what they would like us to add in order to make their vehicle as effective as possible. Getting feedback from real customers is a really critical part of the development process for us because we want to continuously improve our product for the broader marketplace. Our biggest challenge at the moment though is finding a way to increase our production scale, while reducing cost.”

Green credentials
Arcimoto’s manufacturing plant in Oregon is primarily focused around the automated manufacture of parts, followed by the lean assembly of the company’s final vehicles. When the site was first constructed, the firm decided to vertically integrate the majority of its metals production, meaning the facility is able to take raw tube and sheet steel through to finished parts for the chassis, suspension, and cage of Arcimoto products. Of course, as the firm attempts to increase the scale of its production, it will likely be presented with a variety of manufacturing choices and challenges.

“In the coming months, we will have to ask ourselves, how are we going to increase the number of vehicles we’re moving through the production process?” Mark suggests. “More than likely, we will have to replicate some of the automated manufacturing cells we have in place, as well as think about additional components we could vertically integrate within our own manufacturing footprint. This could include materials like plastics for the body panels, or coating processes for the metal parts in terms of electro dipping the frames.

“Fundamentally, when it comes to automation, we ask, what is the low-hanging fruit? What should be done immediately by robots and then what can be done by hand? As we continue to scale up, we will no doubt see additional opportunities for automation all the way up the production stack.”

One thing that will remain the same for Arcimoto is the company’s commitment to the green agenda. Environmental efficiency has always been one of the company’s core values, and in the near future, Mark and his team plan to carry out a deeper inspection into Arcimoto’s supply chain, as well as a life cycle sustainability analysis of every part that goes into its vehicles. It is indicative of the drive for continuous improvement that is set to power the company to future success.

“I think we have got to a point where we’ve got the initial stake in the ground and now it’s just about improving on every dimension of our operation,” Mark asserts. “We are dedicated to improving environmental efficiency, improving driving efficiency, improving cost, and improving customer experience. Our initial stated goal was to produce a vehicle that is 230 miles per gallon equivalent. We launched with a vehicle that was 173.7 miles per gallon equivalent for city driving, which I think is a remarkable accomplishment, but we still see room for improvement.

“After that, the next step is to look at new business models that can drive growth. We want to understand what a franchise model might look like for tourist destinations, for the gig economy, and eventually, for an autonomous fleet. We believe the autonomous vehicle world should operate on a much more human scale. The real win for autonomy would be personalized mass transit - the ability to get in a small-form vehicle and have it take you where you want to go, sharing the road with other modes of active transport, like bicycles and scooters. These are all things that we’re going to be developing in the coming months and years.”

Products: Electric vehicle company

A healthier world

When it comes to the design and production of integrated containment and delivery systems for injectable medicines, customers around the globe rely on the exemplary services of West Pharmaceutical Services

Founded nearly a century ago in 1923, today West Pharmaceutical Services, Inc. (West) manufactures over 100 million components every day, totaling over 40 billion a year. From its 25 manufacturing sites operating in North and South America, Europe and Asia Pacific, more than 8000 team members pride themselves on the delivery of excellence, safety, and dependability in injection molding, highly automated contract manufacturing assembly, and finished packaging.

As a global business, West maintains extremely high standards of quality and reliability wherever its customers are located, and this is achieved via the ‘West Business System’, where cross-functional teams work towards having its activities aligned and focused on the customer. “We are all focused on our mission of improving patient lives,” is how David Montecalvo, Senior Vice President, Chief Operations and Supply Chain Officer, aptly describes it. “We are positioned to serve as a global partner to our pharmaceutical and medical device customers wherever they manufacture their products. The ultimate goal is to implement efficient processes and utilize innovative approaches to meet and exceed our customers’ requirements. Our objective is to drive the highest quality in the work that we do for our customers and ultimately the patients we serve.”

Working in partnership
This focus on the customer is shared with careful attention to the patient – the ultimate end user of a West product. While the contents of a vial or injectable system may steal the limelight from the packaging itself, in fact these outer components are of critical importance to the successful storage and delivery of many lifesaving WPS 178 bdrugs and the vital role they play should not be underestimated. David continued with some more details about the range of systems that West creates, designs, manufactures, and delivers. “Within West’s proprietary business, we produce products to serve our customers in the Biologics, Generics and Pharma market areas,” he began. “Our elastomer and seals products, which are used in injectable packaging systems such as vials, help ensure drug compatibility and stability, while also supporting operational efficiency in the filling operation.

“We offer a range of High Value Products, such as Novapure® and FluroTec® which provide an effective barrier and stability for drug molecules while maintaining container closure integrity. We also provide syringe and cartridge components, including custom solutions for the specific needs of injectable drug applications. Our Analytical Services capabilities also provides our customers with expertise in particle analysis, container closure integrity, and performance in packaging and delivery systems among other methodologies. As a result of our understanding of our delivery systems and their compatibility with drug products, we can assist our customers in navigating the challenge that they have in the evolving regulatory landscape.”

Daikyo Crystal Zenith® vials and cartridges are also part of the product line, and these are made of a proprietary material that provides higher performance than glass. It is break resistant and withstands cryogenic or ultra-low temperature environments.

“We also offer a range of devices used in both the hospital and in-home environments, including patient-centric wearable self-injection systems,” he continued. “These devices are easy to use and can be combined with connected health technologies for delivering drugs directly to the patient.”

Another essential element of West’s Operations is West Contract Manufacturing services, which features six contract manufacturing locations, both in the US and Europe, and provides a single-source solution for customers from product conceptualization through to manufacturing and final packaging. “In support of our contract manufacturing customers, we partner to assist in the design and the development of the manufacturing processes for their device product. We often partner to implement higher levels of automation as a way to increase the output of high-quality devices, where high volume efficient manufacturing is needed and offer vertically integrated material capabilities such as advanced injection molding technologies,” David noted.

Single source solution
Closely linked to West’s contract manufacturing expertise is the West Integrated Solutions Program, which in David’s words “brings together our primary packaging, our device analytical testing, our regulatory, and then our contract manufacturing expertise into a single source solution for our customers.” The Integrated Solutions Program is designed to help reduce risk, mitigate regulatory complexity and ‘Simplify the Journey™’ from molecule to market, and West is able to work with clients at any stage of their drug development life cycle across all injectable formats.

Vital role
Moving onto the Global Operations function at West, its strategies are focused across the key areas of manufacturing strategy, global supply chain, process excellence, global procurement, and advanced manufacturing engineering. “One of the goals of our manufacturing strategy is to optimize the global footprint of our facilities, including the development of our capabilities and core competencies to ensure that our manufacturing processes are creating competitive advantage in the marketplace and delivering the highest quality products, on time, with efficient lead times, all in a safe environment,” said David.WPS 178 a

“Our integrated global supply chain strategy facilitates a sustainable and efficient supply of products through optimizing the utilization of all our global manufacturing facilities and assets. This includes harmonization of our planning systems, driving market leading lead times, and an ability to efficiently scale when needed. We also offer redundancy of supply for customers who require risk mitigation by having multiple sites able to produce a product for them.

“Process excellence is another key focus area, which links to our integrated West Business System that I mentioned earlier – ensuring a customer-centered focus and efficient processes to meet and exceed the needs of our customers. At each of our global facilities we’ve implemented a lean daily management system, with common KPIs, and process improvement initiatives centered around value stream mapping, maturity modelling, Gembas, and lean kaizens which have become integral in our daily operations.

“We are always focusing on driving advanced manufacturing engineering,” David added. “This core competency provides early stage design considerations for manufacturability, ensuring lean principles, automation, and digital manufactured environments are established within our global plants, with our goal of driving towards zero defects and optimizing lead times.

“During the last three years we have seen that implementing this overall program and strategic initiatives have improved our ability as a company to be in an effective position to support our customers, as we strive for year over year improvement in our operations performance in our key KPIs of safety, quality, service, and cost.”

David noted how West’s strategy has also proven essential during the Covid-19 pandemic, before shedding light on how the business itself is playing a vital role in the race to develop an effective vaccine to the virus. “We are receiving requests for containment solutions for the development of vaccines for Covid-19, and our product offering, FluroTec®, is preferred by most customers having proven to be compatible with a variety of drug molecules, particularly in the area of vaccines.

“We are already the critical supplier of coated stoppers and seals for many pharmaceutical companies who are working on vaccines for Covid-19. We have been approached by our customers because of our reputation for certainty of supply for their manufacturing plants which is derived from our global scale and our ability to flex our operations. These customers are seeking components to support the development work, clinical trials, and potentially post-approval launches, and we are committed to scaling the production to meet our clients’ future volume requirements.

“We are also supplying primary packaging components for therapeutics used to treat Covid-19 patients. In addition, we are supplying critical components that are used in some of the diagnostic kit products that are being used to detect Covid-19.”

The urgent demand for a Coronavirus vaccine places a considerable amount of extra pressure on West and its clients, and this can magnify the challenges that come with any new product development. “Communication with customers is crucial, so we listen carefully to their needs, which can range from the material component selection, the biocompatibility, and the component requirements for storage, right up to the delivery platform. Vaccine formulation is challenging and the compatibility of the vaccine with the vial including containment features as well as the injecting device is integral to ensuring an accurate and efficacious dose based on the viscosity and the volume to be delivered,” David explained.

Improving patient lives
West is understandably proud to be part of the fight against Covid-19 and David described the West team’s response as ‘humbling’. “We’ve had two priorities at the outset. First to ensure the health and safety of all of our team members and second, to ensure we have our global plants executing and supplying product to our customers without interruption. Our team members have been outstanding and I am so proud of the high levels of engagement and a high sense of pride that exists in having the opportunity to significantly contribute to the health of our global patients in this Covid environment,” he added.

From speaking to David, as he described the integrated systems that West has introduced and the innovative products that it manufactures, it was apparent that creativity and invention are two areas of focus at West.

“We strive to continuously innovate, not only to further develop our product and service offerings, but also to create disruptive opportunities,” he confirmed. “We utilize an innovation process focused on the needs of patients and customers in seeking to understand the whole user experience. We also leverage rapid prototyping techniques and are constantly exploring new possibilities to accelerate our development times and allow our teams to learn an idea quickly and early.

“We have invested in several centers of excellence here in the U.S., in Europe, and in Asia Pacific as part of our evolving research and development strategy to support our global customers. Our global investment in R&D and innovation demonstrates our focus to deliver the most advanced packaging and delivery systems designed to meet our customers’ growing demands.”

As West approaches its 100th anniversary, David is confident in the long-term prospects of the injectable drug market and predicts new therapies in clinical trials to be predominantly injectable drugs, especially biologics and large molecules. “These sensitive drugs, particularly in the Biologics areas, require some of our highest value product components and delivery platforms,” he said. “So, we will maintain our focus on the primary containment and delivery of injectable drugs. We will continue to scale our worldwide manufacturing footprint to meet future demand, while raising the bar on our industry leading quality and service levels, and we will operate more efficiently and open up opportunities to add more innovative products. Overall, we will always be guided by our mission and that is to provide products and therapies that improve patient lives.”

West Pharmaceutical Services, Inc.
Products & Services: Leading manufacturer of packaging components and delivery systems for injectable drugs and healthcare products


U.S.-based CNC manufacturer C.R. Onsrud vertically integrated its CNC plant to streamline manufacturing and expand its product line.

By Staci Davidson, Knighthouse Media

It’s no secret that manufacturing technologies and processes are evolving faster than ever before. Fueled by the relentless pursuit for a competitive advantage, cabinetry shops, aerospace companies, RV manufacturers, boat builders and more are all looking for an edge over their competition. For some, this edge has come in the form of implementing CNC machinery to help automate their manufacturing process.

Manufacturing Today recently spoke with North American CNC manufacturer C.R. Onsrud to get the inside scoop as to how it has grown to become the leading American manufacturer of CNC routers and CNC machining centers for thousands of companies across the globe, and done so while maintaining its reputation for quality and service.


DIS-TRAN Steel builds strong client relationships with its dedicated staff and continuous improvement.

By Staci Davidson, Knighthouse Media

DIS-TRAN Steel, a wholly owned subsidiary of Crest Industries, LLC, has been family owned and operated since it was founded in 1965 and believes it will remain this way as long as it is in business. This speaks in part to the company’s internal, family-like culture, as well as to DIS-TRAN’s sense of service and dedication to its customers. By keeping clients’ best interests in mind and meeting agreements that it promised, DIS-TRAN Steel continues to be a provider of choice for electric utilities, users of electrical power and general industry.

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