Interview with Guglielmo Frontini, Plant Director at ITC Farma, which has chosen IMA Active technologies to boost and modernize its Pomezia plant.
The technological innovation, academic research and the entrepreneurial skill: this are the strenghts of ITC Farma, an Italian private capital pharmaceutical company specialised in contract manufacturing for the Italian and multinational markets. Founded in the ’60s, ITC Farma’s production plant is in Pomezia, south of Rome, in the heart of one of Italy’s most important pharmaceutical clusters. The company is one of the best in the sector: with over 5,000 square metres of floor space, it specialises in the production of oral solids and liquids and has a production capacity of over 30 million packages per year.
In the last year, ITC Farma has made a considerable qualitative leap when it comes to technological innovation. The core of its strategy is a new pharmaceutical research and technology laboratory: thanks to this new structure, equipped with the latest technologies, the company will be able to introduce more production cycles, optimising research processes for better quality, safety and environmental sustainability. In truth, ITC Farma had already begun moving towards technological innovation some years ago when it decided to launch a scientific collaboration with the Department of Drug Chemistry and Technology at University La Sapienza. The two parties decided to work together on a bid for the Life 2020 regional contract to increase knowledge and skills and set strategic goals in gaining a competitive position on the international market. “The new technologies we have adopted,” says ITC Farma Plant Director Guglielmo Frontini, “raise our capacity to a level of quality and innovation only achieved by the major pharmaceutical companies. Moreover, creating the research area will enable ITC to optimise its existing processes and speed up process and method transfer activities, which are key for companies such as ours, whose core business is contract manufacturing and developing new pharma classes”.
It is ITC Farma’s production department that places it at the forefront in contract manufacturing. “The Prexima 300 tablet press, which won the 2018 Pharma Innovation Award, the Aria 900 fluid bed processor and the Adapta 100 capsule filling machine – all produced by IMA Active – further reinforce the automation of production processes at ITC Farma, paving the way for new development opportunities and new commercial scenarios to comprehensively meet the multi-faceted requirements of the pharmaceutical and nutraceutical market,” continues Guglielmo Frontini. “One of our goals is to be increasingly innovative and virtuous by improving the training and skills of the people working with us and by making the technological advances that are crucial in our sector. These essential changes make us less vulnerable to socio-economic shifts and offer greater reliability for our stakeholders, since safety is further reinforced to the benefit of the wider community”. The partnership of excellence between IMA Active and ITC Farma has strengthened year on year, project after project.
When we first became interested in a capsule filling machine, we immediately thought of IMA. We chose the Adapta 100 because it can fill capsules not only with powders and pellets but also with tablets, micro-tablets and liquids. One of the products we distribute – which we are yet to take into production – is capsules with tablets inside. We chose the Adapta for its flexibility, in a bid to conquer new niches in the market. The quality standards IMA offers in terms of customer service and process optimisation were also decisive.
In September 2016 we began work on the Life 2020 industrial research and development project. ITC Farma was the first to obtain the maximum possible funding for this project. This gave us the idea to open a pharmaceutical research and technology laboratory to support our clients in the transfer from R&D to production. We purchased a Mylab and a Roto Cube 12 from IMA Active and were pleased with how they performed, so we then purchased the equivalent production systems, Aria 900 and Roto Mix 1200. Having received approval for Life 2020, we then set to work on the Industry 4.0 project in collaboration with the Department of Drug Chemistry and Technology at University La Sapienza. Work began as soon as the project was approved.
In the space of just 18 months the machines were installed and validated at our plant. Prexima 300 is an exceptional tablet press with an output of up to two and a half million micro-tablets an hour.
GS provides us with a coating capability of up to 400 kg of tablets an hour. In the end, it’s thanks to IMA Active that ITC Farma has made the qualitative leap and become one of the pharmaceutical companies that can offer real technological innovation.
IMA gives us total support not just up to machine start-up but throughout production. The IMA technician is a process expert and works closely with IMA Active R&D and with our own technologists. Even after the sale, the customer cannot be left alone – and this is something we at ITC always try to do with our customers. Human relationships are an added bonus in our partnership with IMA: we have created a climate of trust, esteem and respect. This climate allows us to create the optimum conditions for major projects.