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Datwyler (CH) preps for COVID-19 vaccine race in Flanders

It’s all hands on deck at Swiss manufacturing company Datwyler, the world’s second-largest supplier of rubber seals for vaccine syringes and vials. Its site in Alken, Flanders is preparing to produce more than a billion components for the administration of COVID-19 vaccines over the next two years. The recruitment of extra staff has already started.

In the front row

Flanders proves itself yet again to be a key player in the fight against COVID-19. With a viable vaccine on the horizon, Swiss medical packaging manufacturer Datwyler is dedicating itself to the production of sterile rubber components for syringes and vials. The firm’s production site in Alken is already pulling out all the stops to anticipate global demand. “We want to be ready when they start commercializing the vaccines on a large scale,” says Dirk Borghs, CEO of Datwyler Healthcare Solutions.

Alken, a unique site with star status

Previously a nominee for Flanders’ 2016 Foreign Investment of the Year Trophy, Datwyler operates 20 production sites around the globe, with Alken being the  group’s health division’s largest site. The plant is almost 50 years old and has an annual turnover of EUR 150 million.

“Our Alken site in Flanders, was the blueprint for our recent investments in similar extra capacity in India and in the US, where a new plant has been operational since the beginning of this year.”

 Dirk Borghs, CEO of Datwyler Healthcare Solutions

Globally, only a handful of players dedicate themselves to rubber technology for pharmaceutical applications. Datwyler is number two, after American market leader West Pharmaceutical Services. Roelant Storms, Datwyler's global head of sales PPS: “The threshold for entering the business is high because of the specialized knowledge required and the substantial investments that come with high-tech facilities. The site in Alken has both.”

Beyond full capacity

Under normal circumstances, Datwyler produces around 1 billion rubber components for vaccines in Flanders every year. Since March, the factory – which employs 800 people – has operated at full capacity, and 40 additional employees were recruited to stay on top of things.

The next two years will be hectic. As COVID-19 vaccines are expected to undergo large-scale commercialization in the next year, we plan to produce half a billion components in 2021 and another 750 million in 2022. To be able to manage these volumes, we will definitely be recruiting extra helping hands.” 

Roeland Storms
global head of sales PPS at Datwyler

More info

Reported by
De Tijd newspaper
29 October 2020

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