International competence in planning – Glatt Ingenieurtechnik plans and builds complex plant lines and production facilities (German article)

In 1991 Glatt Ingenieurtechnik was founded in Weimar as a subsidiary of Glatt GmbH Process Technology. For 20 years the plant engineering company from Thuringia has been a competent partner for process, plant and turnkey factory planning employing innovative technologies. Dr. Michael Reubold has interviewed Volker Saalfeld, manager of the Engineering Division about the development of the division and its future plans. (article in German language)

» originally published in the trade magazine ‘CHEManager’, issue 17/2011, Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA

CHEManager: Mr. Saalfeld, 20 years are a good occasion to review the past. What is the role of Glatt Ingenieurtechnik within the Glatt Group?

V. Saalfeld: The Glatt name represents more than 50 years of high-quality process equipment in granulation and coating processes for all powder-processing industries which manufacture granulates and pellets from powder and/or liquids containing solids and enhance the properties of particles through coating. Originally, the applications focused primarily on fluid bed technologies for the pharmaceutical solids production.

Glatt Ingenieurtechnik expanded the product range of the corporate group by adding fluid bed systems with continuous process control thereby also making it available to the powder-processing industry sectors that manufacture and process larger product volumes. Due to the positive development, the company location has already expanded twice since being founded in 1991. 85 new workplaces were created alone through the most recent expansion in 2009. Today 180 staff members are working in the Engineering division.

CHEManager: What was the reason for Glatt to establish the Engineering Division in Weimar:

V. Saalfeld: The increasing demand for process solutions from a single source created new challenges. Plants turned into complex plant lines and process planning was expanded to the planning of entire engineering areas and finally of complete factories. Glatt Ingenieurtechnik accordingly became a system supplier and factory planner with a comprehensive list of first class references from the pharmaceutical, foodstuff and special chemicals sectors.

CHEManager: Could you name a few examples?

V. Saalfeld: Gladly. GE Healthcare requested engineering services from us to convert their batch production to cost-efficient continuous processing. Delivery, installation, qualification of the plants and validation support were undertaken onsite in Norway during running production. This product line is unique since it is FDA approved for continuous production of active ingredients for parenteral drugs with a capacity of 270 kg/h.

Phytosynthese in Riom, France, produces encapsulated flavours for food and feed applications. We supplied a spouted bed granulator for spray granulation with encapsulation of the emulsified oils as complete plant with a production capacity from 50 to 100 kg/h and supervised its commissioning.

Within the scope of a turnkey project, Pottaschewerk Staßfurt, Germany, appointed us with the planning and construction of what was at that time the most advanced potash production plant in the world, with a fluid bed spray granulation plant and a yearly output of 20 000 tons of potassium carbonate.

For the spray granulation of water softeners at Zschimmer & Schwarz, we supplied a fluid bed granulator with a water evaporation capacity of 700 kg/h, as turnkey including the buildings.

CHEManager: Glatt’s customers originally came from the pharmaceutical industry and Glatt became especially renowned in the field of solid drugs. Do you still benefit from this early competency?

V. Saalfeld: Yes. But independently from the many years of competence for the solids production our order books were filled especially with projects for the manufacturing of liquid drugs where the know-how of our planers was awaited and applied. Glatt undertook various projects in this area with licenses of well known technology providers.

CHEManager: For example?

V. Saalfeld: The most recent example is an order from Pharmaceutical Solutions Industry, a Saudi producer of infusion solutions. Just in May of this year the company commissioned us with the basic and detail engineering for the conversion and expansion of its production facilities for approx. 4 000 m2 of production area.

Currently we are also planning the new construction of a factory for the production of infusion solutions for Grotex International in Russia. The construction site was opened by the customer in May 2011 after we had prepared the concept and the installation planning. 2 blow-fill-seal production lines with an annual capacity of 30 million PE bottles will be completed in the coming months

On behalf of Rosplasma, also in Russia, and within the scope of a turnkey project, Glatt is engineering and implementing a new production facility for plasma fractionation of 600 000 l blood plasma per year and various other products in Kirov, Russian Federation. This also includes establishing a network of plasma collection and pheresis centres in the Kirov region with project planning, delivery and installation of prefabricated modules.

As EPCM contract partner for OOO Gematek from Moscow, a subsidiary of the Lukoil Corporation, Glatt engineered and constructed a new production facility for infusion solutions in Tver, Russian Federation. It uses blow-fill-seal technology in PE bottles with 500, 250 and 100 ml each and an annual capacity of 12 to 16 million bottles.

CHEManager: Is Glatt technology used exclusively for these orders? I imagine that customers who have commissioned you to engineer a factory sometimes require the use of  their own technologies or that of other manufacturers.

V. Saalfeld: You are quite right. We do not insist on exclusively using our own technology for production. As factory planner we are independent of particular technologies. Glatt Ingenieurtechnik also realises production facilities using the customer’s equipment or that of other vendors. In Saratov, Russia, for example, we functioned as general contractor for the oil corporation Lukoil, building a facility for the production of sodium cyanide that operates with a technology licensed by DuPont. There are a number of other projects in which we did not or not completely use our own technology.

For example, we are currently planning a new production facility for the manufacturing of tablets and capsules for a manufacturer in Uzbekistan. Al Shaba Yeast Factory, a Syrian yeast producer, commissioned Glatt to upgrade the production site in Aleppo to expand the daily capacity for soft and dry yeast from 32 t to 50 t. We implemented this project as EPCM service provider from the survey of existing plant up to production handover. A customer from Cork, Ireland, commissioned us with the responsibility for the complete concept, basic and detail planning of the entire process technology in the framework of constructing a new building for the production of 4 billion tablets a year. Also Beximco from Dhaka, Bangladesh, asked Glatt to reconstruct and modernise a tablet line with thorough assessment in regard to the GMP feasibility of the existing production equipment and to develop a comprehensive concept for process planning and specification of the equipment for the new production.

CHEManager: Your customer portfolio is quite international. How do you work the foreign markets?

V. Saalfeld: Although the main office of Glatt Ingenieurtechnik is in Weimar we also maintain field and branch offices in Scandinavia, France, Switzerland, Russia, India and the U.S.

CHEManager: What can be expected from Glatt Ingenieurtechnik in the future?

V. Saalfeld: On the one hand, turnkey competency for integrated factory planning using Glatt’s proprietary process technology, customer-owned technologies and the know-how of a technology partner. On the other hand, state of the art process equipment for the fluid bed granulation of powders, with or without factory.

Our scope of services comprises process planning and optimisation, plant engineering as well as the overall planning of complete factories. Competent consultation, controls and building services planning, qualification and validation are just as much a matter of course as reliable service, technology training programs and operator instruction.

Thereby, we also pursue our own ongoing development to always be able to offer our customers the latest know-how combined with excellent project management. Quality and customer satisfaction continue to represent our top priorities.