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(Interview) Husky leverages supply chain management to meet surging medical demands
Source:Adsale Plastics Network    Editor:JK    Date:03.Feb.2021

As the demands for COVID-19 testing and vaccination increased, Adsale Plastics Network has been looking at the impacts on the plastics industry value chain,COVID-19 testing and vaccination demands increased, Adsale Plastics Network has been looking at the impacts on the plastics industry value chain and how manufacturers respond to them.


Husky Injection Molding Systems Ltd. (Husky) saw a surge of demands for diagnostic and injection devices combined with theunprecedented and radical reduction of lead times to bring additional production capacity to market, in line with the standards in the medical sectormedical sector's standards.


Husky noted that it had to leverage utilization of its worldits world-leading production capacity and global footprint to meet these urgent ramp-up demands of medical devices. Its global service network was also used to support the local critical production start-ups.


Though the time-to-market is short, the manufacturer has successfully overcome the challenges of eliminating risks, maximizing part quality, and scaling up production with customers.


Husky also took early involvement, supporting customers with consultation on product design, development, and optimization. Specifically, it configured new mold concepts through thermal and rheological analysis and process simulation to reach theright-first-time end-product assembly solution.


Across its various product platforms, the global revenues for Husky in the medical sector have increased by over 20% have increased by over 20% in the medical sector.


Regarding how to respond to the growing demands of the market, Husky emphasized that it aims to deliver the value proposition to the medical sector through fully integrated medical injection molding systems combined with its proactive service model “Advantage+Elite”. This model, which offers, not only at duringthe start-up, but throughout the life cycle of the systemsystem's life cycle with certainty, scalability, and efficiency. All of this is to give the medical producer peace of mind during the production while increasing their bottom line.


Husky system with Schöttli medical mold.

The heart of the Husky systems is powered by Schöttli medical molds, which deliver high-level repeatability with low risk, optimum quality, and high precision.


Husky also partners with leading medical mold-makers by providing them with customized hot runners and mold controllers to satisfy the requirements in medical applicationmedical applications' requirements: uniform melt distribution to each cavity, preservation of resin and additives properties, gate quality at start-up and in production, and the clean and accurate mold movement.


Conventional and alternative solutions for vaccination


Commenting on the technological trends of materials and processing for vaccination, Husky remarked that different types of vaccines have different logistic requirements. For example, inactivated and DNA vaccines are shelf stable at ambient temperatures, while RNA, protein-based, and viral vector vaccines require stringent cold chain conditions. 


Therefore, to develop the best packaging and administration solutions, it is critical to adopt an end-to-end approach, from vaccine production, conditioning, shipment, storage, to final administration for a given vaccine type.


While seeing immediate surge for ramping up conventional solutions, which consist of glass vials and conventional plastic-barrel or glass-barrel syringes, Husky also noticed strategic concerns from countries on the challenges from these established solutions.


The demand for barrel syringes has been increasing due to the launches of vaccination.

For example, in regards of complexity and lead-time to expand glass vials volumes and adjust complex “fill and finish” process to specific vaccines in order to meet the billions of units required globally.

Therefore, to ease the urgency of rolling-out vaccines at high speed and volume, authorities, countries and pharmaceutical OEMs are looking at alternative solutions for the next phase of ramp-up needs.


Heavy investments have been made to accelerate go-to-market and mass industrialization of new generation of prefilled injectors, combining the technology of Blow-Fill-Seal (BFS) aseptic plastic drug packaging with pen needle-style hubs, with the objective to deliver medicines and vaccines with enormous speed, scale, cost, and efficiency to address specific requirements such as stringent cold-chain needs.


More marginally, some alternative processes such as needle-free injection systems are also evaluated, using high pressure to deliver the vaccine through the skin without the use of the needle.


Difference between Chinese and overseas producers


Husky found that downstream producers are looking for shorter lead time production solutions to speed up time-to-market.


Medical parts producers are looking for shorter lead time production solutions to speed up time-to-market. 

Some Chinese producers would even prefer to go with lower cost approaches, for example low cavity cold runner molds, as they do not have concrete business forecast from end-markets. They make investment in spot opportunities for quick revenue growth over a relatively short time span by means of “good enough” products instead of perfect ones, according to Husky.


China has become one of the world’s manufacturing hubs, with a complete supply chain system put in place, which helps boost local medical testing and injection device production sector by enabling better manufacturing facilities, lower costs and rapid support/response, added Husky.


Compared to China, overseas medical parts producers are more likely to cope with the business opportunities brought by COVID-19 in a more conventional way, similar to their previous approach in new product development, including incorporating R&D, strict quality assurance, rounds of clinical tests or certifications, and commercialization plan.


As a result, even though having the target of launching products to the market more rapidly in mind, overseas producers still move slightly slower than their counterparts in China, concluded Husky.



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