01 March 2023 | Wednesday | Opinion
Oliver’s General Manager of SEA, Dr Aldin Velic
Oliver Healthcare Packaging has announced plans to expand its presence in Asia Pacific with a new manufacturing facility in Malaysia, which is set to open in 2024. The new plant will produce pouches, lids, CleanCut cards, and roll stock, and will feature the latest state-of-the-art equipment operating ISO-7 and ISO-8 clean rooms to meet growing regulatory standards for medical packaging. The facility will also be certified to ISO 13485:2016 and be Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) compliant operationally. The investment will create hundreds of jobs and support the development of Malaysia’s pharmaceutical and medical device ecosystems. The new plant will also help Oliver Healthcare Packaging better serve its customers in the region, by providing additional technical expertise and a solution to potential supply chain challenges.
The medical device market in Asia Pacific is growing rapidly, with demand driven by ageing populations, increasing per capita income, technological advancements, and the provision of government support and incentives. In fact, projections show that the sector is expected to grow by an impressive 10.5% to USD225 billion by the end of the decade.
Recognising the vast opportunities that lie ahead, we at Oliver Healthcare Packaging (Oliver) decided to expand our presence with a new manufacturing facility in Malaysia to better serve our customers in the region. Located in the established economic zone of Iskandar Puteri, Johor, the upcoming plant will be in close proximity to our existing technical lab in Singapore and will bolster our capabilities to manage increasing demands for medical devices. It will also provide additional technical expertise to help our customers navigate evolving landscapes, including future potential supply-chain challenges.
The new manufacturing facility will produce pouches, lids, CleanCut cards, and roll stock, and will feature the latest state-of-the-art equipment, operating ISO-7 and ISO-8 clean rooms, to meet growing regulatory standards for medical packaging.
Indeed, the regulatory landscape in Asia Pacific continues to vary and fluctuate from having minimal structures to having highly evolved regulatory systems, so our expanded presence will help us stay on the pulse of any changes in the region and consider regulatory strategies early in the product development lifecycle.
When the new manufacturing plant officially opens in 2024, it will be our largest facility in Asia Pacific. It will create hundreds of jobs in the coming years, but will more importantly support the development of Malaysia’s pharmaceutical and medical device eco-systems; designed to continue attracting foreign direct investment within these two industries in the country.
The new manufacturing facility will feature the latest state-of-the-art equipment, operating ISO-7 and ISO-8 clean rooms, to meet growing regulatory standards for medical packaging. The facility will also be certified to ISO 13485:2016 and be Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) compliant operationally. As with all of our global sites, Oliver follows at minimal the local environmental and safety standards, but typically sets the bar high in ensuring safety and environmental impact is industry-leading.
Throughout our manufacturing process, we will also continue to honour our long-standing commitment to embed corporate responsibility and stewardship into our business practices. For example, to mitigate Oliver’s environmental impact within the healthcare industry, plans for our facility will include the installation of solar panels to supplement and reduce our dependability on local utilities. Additionally, some of the materials we use in the production process will be 100% recyclable, and recycling programmes will be implemented to not only reduce the amount of scrap material generated during the manufacturing process, but to also reduce the amount of waste sent to landfills.
Beyond this, we recognise that safety and environmental standards are constantly evolving. As such, we will continue to work closely with the local authorities to ensure that our operations are in line with all latest developments and we can continue to deliver innovation, quality, and service excellence to our customers across the region.
Ensuring our products are of the highest quality and safety standards has always been a non-negotiable priority for Oliver, and that is never compromised even as we grow our presence across the world. In fact, what sets us apart in the industry is our ability to tap on our global technical expertise but still provide localised support that caters to specific needs and regulations in each of the markets we operate in.
For example, our local lab capabilities enable us to develop prototypes, share material and design recommendations, test packaging integrity, conduct defect and microscopic analysis, incorporate bioburden testing, check environmental conditioning and aging, and develop processes to ensure the best possible quality and innovation for our customers, regardless of where they are based.
Our overall growth strategy involves understanding changing needs, demands and expectations in the industry, identifying high potential markets and expanding our presence where our business can contribute the most. For example, Asia Pacific presented a rapidly growing pharmaceutical and medical device industry, driven by diverse patient populations in need of greater access to healthcare. More importantly, not only is the local consumption market growing quickly, the foreign direct investment from various multi-nationals looking to establish an operational presence in the region and export their devices back to Europe or the United States, requires them to have an ecosystem of trusted partners; one where Oliver has had a presence for many decades. With this new facility we continue to be an extension of many of these multi-nationals and allow them to use time-tested materials and work with a partner who can quickly meet their most demanding needs.
That said, while we are always on the lookout for the right growth opportunities, our focus for now is to strengthen our presence in the markets we have already committed to, and to continue delivering the best products and services to all our customers.
If there is one reality the pandemic has laid bare, it is that medical needs and demands can change very quickly. Indeed, at the onset of COVID-19, the pharmaceutical and medical devices sectors experienced sharp pivots in the demand for health-market products, shifts in research and development (R&D) priorities, and disruptions in global supply chains.
To ensure that Oliver can stay competitive even if faced with such challenges in the future, our company and our new facility in Johor will, first of all, have a strong focus on innovation. With the backing of public-private collaboration models, government initiatives and the growing role of multinational R&D centres in the region, our continued investment in innovation will enable us to stay agile and develop locally sourced materials to navigate evolving landscapes effectively.
We will also continue to leverage our technical expertise and relationships with local partners to address healthcare infrastructure gaps. In many markets in Asia Pacific, access to safe and affordable healthcare, lack of healthcare personnel and outdated technology remain daily challenges for the sector, especially in rural and remote areas. We will endeavour to work closely with our customers to ensure that healthcare supplies and therapies can remain stable and available for end users.
Additionally, as awareness around sustainability continues to grow, so too will our commitment to mitigate our environmental impact in the healthcare industry. At present, healthcare systems on a global average basis account for approximately 4% of global carbon dioxide emissions – but we are well positioned to make a difference. Once it is officially open, our new facility will aim to reduce direct power consumption with the installation of solar panels and reduce waste through the incorporation of recyclable materials and the implementation of recycling programmes.
All in all, we recognise that the industry is constantly evolving and that solutions of today may not address problems of tomorrow. As such, we will continue to embrace our spirit of innovation and enterprise to overcome all challenges head-on and stay competitive in the pharmaceutical and medical device industry.