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In mid-May under the warm sun on the West Coast of Sweden people from the Pharma industry met to discuss an important topic: Circularity by innovation within pharmaceutical and medical device production.

Such a complex task is too big to handle alone; it requires collaboration across the complete value chain. This symposium provided a platform for exactly that—collaboration & knowledge sharing aiming to make a significant impact on our industry and our planet.

In this blog you will find the takeaways from this two-day event and a summary of what circularity by innovations can be in our industry.


On the 16th of May, we gathered our guests from 11 different countries and 24 companies within Pharma, at Graniten HQ for a full day on the topic of sustainability and circular economy.

Our guest speakers from different parts of the industry shared their insights and learnings around the theme circularity by innovations and what it means for their business.

All speakers at Graniten Symposium 2024

The Power of collaboration

Our first guest speaker, Anders Persson has the role as Executive Director Ecosystem Strategy & Innovation at Astra Zeneca.

His job is not to focus on the present but to focus on the science and the technology of tomorrow to make sure that we can do tomorrow what we cannot do today.

He shared the insights from the journey he has had at Astra Zeneca and the establishment of the Bio Venture Hub at Astra Zeneca which is a unique initiative that was established in 2015. Supported and funded by the government it is an open environment to share learnings, challenges and opportunities with each other. Focus is on scale up companies and is important to attract more talents in the area, strengthen the life science ecosystem and support SME growth.

Anders states that it has been a success not only locally but also in global interests. It makes sure that we together continue to enrich the technology we see that we need in the future.

An important factor to the success is that there are no commercial tensions between the companies. This creates an environment where you are more willing to share, giving the companies joint infrastructure, mentoring and network to be able to grow.

Anders Persson at Graniten Symposium 2024

The school of Economics has been mapping the data and see that the more open and outreaching we are, the better is the value increase of our business

says Anders Persson

Circular Economy – Preserving value

Josefina Sallén at Graniten Symposium 2024

Our next speaker was Josefina Sallén from RISE, Research institutes of Sweden where she has the role as Advisor Circular transition.

She has a broad background in different industries and shared her learnings around circular economy.

In her role she brings talk into actions by looking at the research and science and transforming this into business models.

Her focus is on the lifetime of a product after it is put on the market. Today companies tend to focus on the part of the life cycle before the selling point. This is where circular economy comes in.

The resource usage needs to be at around 8 times more. Meaning we need to use our products 8 times longer, or 8 times more often, or recirculate the product 8 times.

It is when you start to focus on combining your values and your drive for becoming a better company you can make a sustainable business.

She defines Circular Economy as Preserving Value and elaborates around the 4 ways to do this:

  1. Reduce

2. Prolong use

3. Regenerate

4. Recirculate

How can we do this in practice?

We need to look at the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO). For example, Down Time Reduction is a strong driver for the industry. An example of this could be where you split the savings created when not having down time, between the customer and the supplier.

  • Flexibility is one way where you can modify over time and short contracts can be another way for us to preserve value of a product.
  • Innovations and new technology are areas where companies might not be as willing to invest and here a risk reduction to avoid investment could be a transfer from CAPEX to OPEX. You can then be renting instead of buying the equipment, which gives the customer the opportunity to test new technology.
  • Optimized use is another way of paying for value by capturing and using the data to optimize the product usage.

These are just some examples of circular business models that will have an impact on the resource usage in the world!

Josefina summarizes by saying:

“When going for a circular offer – look at pay for value”. 

standardization by a fleet concept

Bartosz Urbaniak at Graniten Symposium 2024

After hearing from the science and research in the industry we had the opportunity to listen to one of our Customers, Bartosz Urbaniak, Network technology Lead at Roche Pharmaceutical.

In his role he is responsible for introducing new technologies into the manufacturing environment, looking into what is new on the market and what innovations can be brought in and be used as standard manufacturing equipment in the future.

Bartosz talks about the standardization and how they push the standardization forward by maintaining a fleet concept. This means that instead of having identical equipment they look at having equivalent equipment globally, where the critical aspects of the processes are the same. Anywhere or any way that they use the equipment, will be the same.

The fleet concept has been very successful. The introduction of modular equipment has impacted the circularity at Roche giving them a faster product transfer, consistent global quality and the possibility to facilitate upgrades better.

Bartosz ends his presentation with saying:

Collaboration between pharmaceutical companies, regulatory bodies, healthcare providers and the patients is the only way we can push the circular economy further”

Benefits of a Platform modularity

Next, we had Kevin Braeckmans from Graniten, who has the role as Pharma Process engineer, to present the background of why the Graniten Flexline platform was developed from the ground up with circularity in mind. He also elaborates on the benefits of the platform modularity in different aspects.

Kevin Braeckmans at Graniten Symposium 2024

Kevin discusses the different options a pharmaceutical company has when it comes to meeting a change in the market.

In order to make the decision you need to look at both the cost and the environmental aspects.

There are 3 scenarios:

  • Replace with new
  • Refurbish machine
  • Swap functionalities

A change in the market was the initial initiator to start looking into a new packaging machine platform – The Graniten Flexline packaging platform.

Apart from to increased efficiency for small batch production the main benefits are:

  • Better quality
  • Cross factory roll-out
  • Increased product life cycle
  • True modularity

Conclusions are that Graniten Flexline is truly circular by facilitating reuse and by giving the possibility to change and add new modules which also reduces validation time. Thereby you can reuse your equipment and use your equipment more, having a longer lifetime – potentially 8 times more!

Kevin lifts the lack of the environmental aspect and of the long-term thinking as an element that in current business case models are not highlighted in most pharma companies and therefore the theme for this Symposium.

Modularity in Practice

Finally, we had the great honour of having our customer Alessandro Zanotti from Janssen and the Latina site presenting the benefits they have been able to achieve by implementing the Graniten Flexline platform in their production.

Alessandro has the role as Manufacturing & Packaging Project Delivery Manager and shares the practical example of the modularity mentioned by Kevin Breackmans and the sustainability aspects this line brought to the Latina production.

The aim for the project at Latina was to introduce a line that is fast in changeover, to be more efficient in managing the small batches and consequently to be more agile in response to the market needs.

Alessandro Zanotti at the Graniten Symposium

The Business impact & benefits from the implementation of the Graniten Flexline packaging platform are:

  • Economical management
  • OEE increase on all bottle lines
  • Optimized capacity utilization
  • Fast new product introduction (no format parts)
  • Compliance and quality increase

The Agility in managing small batches is not limited to flexible equipment but it is possible only with a holistic approach.

“The reality is that we were very inefficient when handling the small batches. 50% of the time on the line were spent on change activities. We could spend up to 6-8 hours in changeover”

says Alessandro Zanotti

The conclusion that Alessandro takes is that the Graniten Flexline has not only reduced cost and increase the efficiency but also have had big sustainability effects. They have reduced machine hours as they will switch off two existing lines. Also, in the packaging department they have reduced the use of plastic percentage in the material.

Summarizing the insights and learnings from the day

Panel discussion Graniten Symposium

The learnings from the day were summarized in a panel discussion and there was a common theme throughout the day.

It takes collaboration and openness to be able to change into a more circular and sustainable way of working.

Innovations is key and Magnus Wall mentions the site at Latina, as an example, and the way this site for many years have been driven by innovation. They are adopting new technologies and talk about continuous manufacturing. Alessandro mentions their three main objectives on the site that can realize this way of working, Quality, Safety and Productivity, where Innovation is the common factor for all three.

What is the next step?

The next step, big or small, is to start the discussion – what can we do for each other?

Let’s build on the relationship between supplier and customer and together push the boundaries of sustainability and circularity opportunities, often hidden within the technology.

Josefina concludes that there are a lot to be done, but often we don’t have to come up with new solutions, sometimes we need to see the innovative solutions that are already available and start to measure them.

Magnus summarizes the panel discussion saying:

Everybody in this room are leaders in some sense and it’s we as leaders who can make a difference in this case. If we don’t take the lead in this, things will not happen.

So it’s up to us after we leave here. We can all take a small step further, together”.

Magnus Wall

Want to learn more?

If you missed the opportunity to be a part of this Symposium and would like to know more about the discussions and learnings from the event, please contact us via this form to receive more information.

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