Sergio Sarvia , President & CEO of Olivotto Glass Technologies, speaks about how it is continuing to face the challenges from the market coming not only from the present global emergency, but also from a higher demand for neutral glass tube production plants even before the pandemic.
Glass Machinery Plants & Accessories (GMP&A): OGT has been working in the pharma tubing sector for many years now. But considering the actual turmoil in the sector resulting from the possible and imminent development of a Covid-19 vaccine, are you ready to meet a strong increase in demand?
Olivotto Glass Technologies (OGT): Packaging is an essential part of any production chain, and even more so in times of pandemics for pharmaceutical packaging.
While researchers all over the world are working to create a vaccine that will allow us to defeat Covid-19 definitely, the containers for the vaccine will play an equally fundamental role in guaranteeing the safety of the drugs and their availability the world over.
This is why many leading pharmaceutical packaging manufacturers have decided to take action to guarantee the quality and the availability of their vials – made with very high quality glass – and to do so they have turned to companies able to ensure high technological quality standards, such as Olivotto Glass Technologies.
The technology of Olivotto Glass Technologies is able to produce glass tube with the highest quality respecting the most stringent international standards.
The healthcare culture is increasingly widespread and Covid-19 will only amplify this need. Our tubing lines are the first link in the pharma packaging chain, which means that we have a duty to be ready to face the challenge of this global emergency. We had, however, seen a real boom in the demand for pharmaceutical tube production plants even before this pandemic.
OGT has been producing machinery for the glass industry for decades. This market has always been characterised by strong fluctuations in demand (of equipment) and we have therefore developed a business model capable of adapting to these constantly diversifying scenarios. We are therefore certainly in the position to be able to respond to a strong increase in demand for the production of neutral glass tubes.
GMP&A: Do you think that the pharmaceutical glass industry can benefit from the industry support programmes put in place by each individual state to combat Covid-19?
OGT: Companies in the sector have been developing and working in recent years regardless of government funding. The arrival of Covid-19 has, however, increased support for businesses coming from individual states.
GMP&A: Are there any market sectors that have already made new investments? What do you expect will happen to the market at global level?
OGT: We already experienced an increase in demand during the past year. The most active market, in particular, is Asia, but Europe, South America and Africa are undergoing important development. We therefore expect to see further acceleration over the next 24 months at global level.
GMP&A: Why should the pharmaceutical packaging industry come to OGT? What is the strong point of your offer?
OGT: OGT developed the first line for pharmaceutical tube production in the 1970, and at present we have almost 50 installed lines up and running.
We have continuously worked on developing and improving our technical solutions since then. We are therefore able to provide turnkey projects for the production of pharmaceutical tube that meets the new requirements of different world Pharmacopoeias consisting of chemical, geometric and cosmetic characteristics of glass.
In the last decade, in particular, we have invested considerably in the development of in-line sensors, constantly monitoring dimensional (diameter, thickness, ovality, etc..) and cosmetic (air lines, inclusions, seeds and ropes) characteristics in order to ensure absolute certainty regarding the quality of final products.
The constant introduction of sensors also leads us to have a new approach to process management by means of machine learning logic. The goal is to be able to provide our customers with advanced manufacturing analytics tools with the increasingly intense use of artificial intelligence applied to process control and management.
GMP&A: Are your machines and lines usually standard products or can they be customised according to the needs of each customer?
OGT: Our plants feature a high level of standardisation but can also be customised according to layout logics and to specific customer needs.
GMP&A: What kind of service did you provide for customers during the lockdown period?
OGT: During lockdown, OGT continued to operate and was able to provide remote assistance to installation sites thanks to the use of targeted software. Our spare parts warehouse continued to operate throughout the emergency phase. We can honestly say that during the forced social distancing phase, OGT was able to be ‘close’ to customers, guaranteeing short response times.
GMP&A: How did the tableware market react during this difficult period?
OGT: The tableware market was in an overproduction context even before the pandemic, and is now even more so due to the period we are experiencing. We are, however, counting on a gradual return to normal in the medium term. Thanks to the variety of technologies it is able to offer to the market, OGT is today, proving to be a solid and continuously growing reality with a long tradition. For example, this year we celebrate the 30th anniversary of our well-know O.90 Press & Blow Machine after more than 100 installations in the world.
GMP&A: What kind of benefits has OGT gained from the recent change in ownership?
OGT: OGT is a technology-driven company that has maintained its all-Italian identity, with constant focus on research and competitiveness by leveraging on continuous technological innovation. The most important benefit that we have seen is that our investor is an industrial organisation with a logic of structural presence, which allows us to dedicate much more resources to research and development than before.
GMP&A: OGT is a company with strong know-how covering a wide range of technologies gained over time, creating a company that stands out as a beacon of technological innovation. What are OGT’s plans for the future?
OGT: OGT is, today, a consolidated company, and the only one in the world that can satisfy a wide range of technologies for the hollow glass sector.
We have a very wide range of innovations, from process control applied to our production lines (manufacturing analytics, predictive maintenance) to the extension of our turn-table machine technology for container production. All this focussing on innovation and technological continuity.
Olivotto Glass Technologies Spa