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Investments in QC, preventive measures using tech priority for Indian pharma sector: Dr Anupriya Balikai

Nandita Vijay, Bengaluru
Monday, August 1, 2022, 08:00 Hrs  [IST]

Indian pharma is now going all out to invest in technology not just for higher quality control measures but also for preventive maintenance to ensure that there are no issues with medicines that are manufactured, said Dr Anupriya Balikai, founder director, Spookfish Innovations.
There is a huge market opportunity and considerable demand from Indian pharma companies too following the Union government mandate for trace and track for active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) and the authenticity marker for over the counter (OTC) drugs, added Dr Balikai, one of the top 15 transforming women selected by Niti Aayog.
Further, promising business prospects are sighted in both pharma manufacturing and packaging space. These customers need to put checks in place. There are a lot of new lines that are coming up.

We could be one of the solution providers for the range of intelligent vision machines on manufacturing and packaging lines. We work with data where advanced industrial computer vision and machine learning methods are deployed to offset pharma production challenges of defective products and foreign objects. There is huge gap between demand and supply and that is where Spookfish is looking to scale up in terms of manpower and production of its machines, Dr Balikai told Pharmabiz.
Pharma companies want to ensure defect-free end products going by the advances in drug delivery as blister packs are developed for different doses of medication. In the packaging industry, bottles are supplied to pack the medicines. This is where Spookfish’s Snipe, the winner of the new age tech award is an online induction seal inspection system for a retrofit on existing bottle packaging lines. It accurately detects any areas of potential leakage on a seal, verifies the integrity of the bottle and rejects any defective products via a pneumatic rejection mechanism. We have seen inadequate quality standards being a concern. For instance, contamination with sub standard bottle seals can decrease the medicine potency when exposed to harsh environments, said Dr Balikai.
The company also has Marlin an online tablet inspection system with high speed cameras and customized software to accurately detect inconsistencies in tablet colour, shape and size, remove defective products via a custom-built rejection mechanism even of individual products or bottles. Both the Snipe and Marlin, are installed at pharma production lines.  There is considerable demand from the packaging industry for bottles, blisters, sachets, pouches and drug delivery device packs which need checks in place, she said.
The pace of growth is palpable for automation. There is a drastic shift by companies to decide its capex based on manufacturing targets as it is now for quality and manufacturing objectives with an emphasis on digitalization. The interest is towards lean manufacturing, reducing waste within production systems and maximize productivity. In age of technology, people are seen to connect machines not from the actual production line but remotely from their homes. Even though Indian pharma is way behind technology it is fast tracking investments to move towards Industry 4.0. This is driven by the need to offset pauses between production and supply chain, said Dr Balikai.


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