Pharma is a perfect fit for our strategic focus

The trend toward biopharmaceutical active substances is also having an impact on plant engineering. Dr. Wolfgang Büchele, CEO of Exyte, explains to P+F why plant standardization and modularization are gaining in importance in this context.

P+F: Exyte has really sharpened its profile since the name-change from M+W. What trends are you focusing on at the moment?

Büchele: We see ourselves as a specialized plant engineer with in-depth expertise in controlled and regulated environments. Our three core segments are Semiconductors, Data Centers, and Life Sciences & Chemicals, with the latter focusing on biopharmaceuticals and specialty chemicals – where the requirements tend to be higher. In the Semiconductors segment, the Internet of Things and autonomous driving are accelerating the demand for memory chips and data centers. In the pharma industry, we see the market moving towards biopharmaceuticals. Here, the production volumes are a good deal smaller and the plants are more flexible in design. Modularization has become a key talking point – one that is resonating with the entire industry at present.


P+F: Is technology a differentiating factor in biopharmaceutical production plants?

Büchele: No. Technology is not as important as overall plant efficiency and product changeover efficiency under GMP. The main success factor in this sector is knowing how to deliver this flexibility.


P+F: How important are industry insights in your business?

Büchele: Industry-specific know-how is extremely important in the semiconductor business, given that you are building plants on a huge scale with investment levels to match. The same goes for the pharmaceuticals industry, because you cannot afford to run into problems when it comes to validation, for instance. It’s not enough to build in line with GMP; the plant also has to be successfully validated on completion.


P+F: Is the pharmaceuticals sector more demanding because it is so heavily regulated?

Büchele: I wouldn’t say it is. I have worked closely with pharma in various different capacities over the years. If you know how the business works, it’s not more demanding actually. It is vital, however, to employ specialists who are top of their game and able to meet the specific requirements of a project. It’s no use building a plant to discover during validation that you overlooked some universal truth – such as the fact that horizontal pipes don’t drain! When that happens, validation becomes a massive headache – one you could have avoided if you had the right people on board; people who know what to factor in when planning a new plant.


The questions asked Armin Scheuermann. The original article was published in German in Pharma + Food on June 27th 2019.