Strong together: The recipe for success of the Business Area Pharma

How the Körber Business Area Pharma forges ahead with innovations for the pharmaceutical and biotech industries in a close dialogue with customers.

In a production hall for inspection machines in Markt Schwaben near Munich, machines are humming, technicians are milling metal parts, and measurement data are being analyzed at a terminal. While normal operations are running, about 150 customers from the pharmaceutical and biotech industries are finding out about the innovations from Körber. They’ve come from all over the world to find out how deep learning will make production processes more efficient in the future, how open software standards make it possible to connect machines into networks, and how virtual reality can be utilized in traditional mechanical engineering. Here, the future is already the present.

The joy of creating something new

For two days, visitors can experience the principle behind the Körber Business Area Pharma close up: The focus is on the customers. Körber employees work at 25 locations to provide their partners from the pharmaceutical and biotech industries with systems that are precisely tailored to these partners’ needs. This means that in order to create these systems, they search through all the available know-how and select exactly the individual elements they need in a specific case. Their basic motivation is the joy of creating something new and producing individual solutions for their customers.

An eye for details: Christian Scherer, Sales Director Inspections at the Körber Business Area Pharma

That’s what motivates Christian Scherer, for example. He’s been working at Körber for almost 20 years at a unit that specializes in inspection solutions and serialization concepts. After receiving his intermediate school leaving certificate, Scherer completed an apprenticeship in mechatronics. Today he manages the worldwide sales operations for this area of competence. First he learned how the machines work — then he opened up the global markets. Scherer built up the business in India and South America and worked in France and the USA. He has experienced how Körber reinvents itself again and again as it seeks the best solutions for its customers, and he has also contributed to this reinvention process.

Today it’s more important than ever before to know and to understand machines as well as customer needs perfectly. As Scherer puts it, “We are a one-stop shop for our customers.” Companies from the pharmaceutical and biotech sector are searching for solutions that will enable them to react flexibly to the dynamic market. That includes fast, error-free changes of inspection units such as ampoules and syringes, and of their sizes. It also includes Track & Trace solutions and the simple integration of new machines and production networks.

Inventors, implementers, nonlinear thinkers

Körber has decided to utilize a strikingly efficient process: It offers outstanding products that complement and reinforce one another. In addition, it offers know-how regarding how interfaces can be adapted and simplified. In the interaction between the various areas of competence, innovation also results from the clever bundling of outstanding technical and digital solutions.

lThe crucial factors in our relationships with our customers are reliability, communication, and trust.r

Christian Scherer, Sales Director Inspections at the Körber Business Area Pharma

That sounds simple, but in practice it’s a very complex process. According to Scherer, one of Körber’s great strengths is the close communication and the mixed teams that work on projects within this Business Area. “The crucial factors in our relationships with our customers are reliability, communication, and trust.” Creating these factors requires sensitivity. “It’s all about bringing together exactly the right people that a given project needs,” Scherer explains. Experts, inventors, listeners, nonlinear thinkers, implementers — all of them start by acquiring a precise understanding of the customers’ challenges. “The process is a dialogue,” says Scherer. “Together with the customers, we define what a new product should accomplish and what the direction of development should be. We then continuously check these basic assumptions during the implementation process.”

At eye level: At Körbers Business Area Pharma, innovation are created in cooperation with the customers.

Wanting to know more, understanding connections, developing solutions — these are all parts of the philosophy, and Scherer and his colleagues put them into practice and develop them further in every part of the company. That can be seen in the development process of the “Lion” system, a Plug & Produce solution that makes it possible to easily integrate existing or new lines by standardizing the interfaces according to the customer’s requirements. This enhances connectivity and ultimately makes production processes faster and more efficient. “Lion” is just one example of Körber’s holistic approach.

Solutions for the entire sector

Answers that meet the concrete needs of customers often lead to the development of solutions that advance the entire sector. Customers who were tired of not being able to simply combine machines from various manufacturers motivated the engineers from Körber to create an open software standard that makes just such combinations possible.

This future-oriented mindset, as well as the practical interplay within the Körber Business Area Pharma, recently impressed yet another customer from the USA who wanted to have a comprehensive solution from a single supplier. “Together as a team, we were able to offer an inspection machine, a packaging machine, and a conveying system. We presented this system solution as a unit,” says Scherer. Alternatively, the customer could have bought individual machines from different manufacturers. “But this way the customer has one contact person on site for everything, instead of a different company for every question.” That’s what it means to offer innovative solutions from A to Z from a single source.

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