Manufacturers and the techniques they use to produce supplements have come a long way in the last few decades. Trends and techniques are continuing to evolve and improve even today. As biopharma trends, customer needs, and new capabilities change and increase, the manufacturers are having to keep up.
Slow but Steady
Every facet of the pharmaceutical industry, including supplement manufacturers, is criticized for its slowness and hesitation to accept change, although the criticism is misplaced. The industry has made great strides in response to everything from supplement delivery to market demands for cost-efficiency and flexibility. Regulatory demands for higher production quality and worker safety have also been met and, arguably, exceeded.
Continuous manufacturing has not replaced traditional batch manufacturing on a whole or even large scale, but the industry has come to a better understanding of the concept and are beginning to accept and even test it in certain processes.
When everything is broken down, the advances could actually be considered rapid. Demand for flexibility, small batches of specialized product, digitization, and delivery systems all highly impact not only the manufacturing process, but the very equipment used. With more demands, more improvements are made to the process and equipment to meet those demands.
Challenges and Innovations
The biggest challenge that manufacturers are hoping to overcome is equipment down-time. Utilizing something called digitization (the comprehensive automation, business information, and manufacturing strategy) has improved the industry by integrating all aspects of production and commerce. It has also helped companies more accurately assess operations, optimize processes, and as a result making them more efficient and transparent. As for companies that have optimized their production using these steps, you can see their products and how superior they are to the competition.
However, digitization does come with its own challenges, especially in an industry that’s so heavily monitored and regulated. With it being a new process, you can expect that there is a lot of trial-and-error on use. Beside that, there is the process of setting it up initially – after all, it can’t analyze data that isn’t visible to it. A solution to that has been found in data mining, allowing access to the necessary information more effectively to identify and remedy any problems or faults.
Supplement Encapsulation Advances
Over the last decade in particular, the production of capsules has had to change significantly with the products filling the capsules. Combinations of products have become increasingly popular. Manufacturers have gained flexibility with their equipment, which has advanced to handle filling powders, tablets, micro-tablets, and other forms of supplement in single fillers.
Along with handling multiple types of filling, the equipment itself has progressively obtained the ability to produce at higher efficiencies at increased speeds. They have also included quality control measures, such as automated weight control and inspection. These changes are marked and pushed by continued changes in market demands, as well as new advances in pharmaceutical development.
There have also been advances in protecting encapsulated APIs against moisture during production, storage, and consumer use. These improved capsules, some without gelling systems, are designed to overcome inconsistencies in dissolution performance and interactions between gelling agents and the dissolution environment.
As a result of these developments, there are increased product yields at significantly reduced costs, good news for not only the manufacturers, but consumers and supplement companies themselves. Increased stability of formulas, optimized and flexible equipment, and constant innovations in the field should be noted, praised, and continuously improved for the sake of all parties.