At the end of 2020, ONFAB were awarded Best Flexible Pharmaceutical Containment Systems Manufacturer in the Global Healthcare and Pharmaceutical Awards. We've published their profile of us in the article below, or you can read the original here.
Founded in 2004, ONFAB are global leaders in the design, manufacture and installation of containment systems for the pharmaceutical industry. Developing unrivalled technology in flexible containment and glove bag solutions, ONFAB push the boundaries to create high performance containment systems. We put together a profile of the firm based in Middlewich, Cheshire and Albacete, Spain.
Based in the UK, ONFAB are specialists in the design, manufacture and installation of flexible containment equipment used in the pharmaceutical manufacturing process, especially involving potent powders. Working with global pharmaceutical manufacturers and drug development companies that include Astra Zeneca, Roche, Novartis and GSK, ONFAB have a vision to become the leading global clean air and containment business.
As part of Envair Technology - formed in 2017 after the acquisition of rigid isolator specialists Envair and funded by private equity managers Foresight - ONFAB offer standalone and retrofit containment solutions.
This is primarily focused around isolators, in which negative or positive pressures are used to create different environments, such as low humidity, low oxygen, aseptic or ATEX. This provides protection and GMP conditioning for both the product and process. The operator then safely handles the ingredient through a glove sleeve from outside of the containment unit.
In 2020, Envair Technology also acquired industrial fume cupboard specialists TCS, enabling the company to offer an even wider portfolio of containment solutions and maximise the potential of the combined expertise of the group. In recent months, clients have come under increasing pressure to quickly become HPAPI ready, particularly those with newer super-potent oncology, cardiovascular and diabetes medicines, and where a GMP compliant environment is essential.
How flexible containment works
ONFAB’s team are on hand to deliver solutions to even the most complex issues such as these, going above and beyond by visiting clients onsite and designing inventive solutions tailored to existing equipment that the client may not be able to envisage. Flexible isolator technology can offer a better solution to contract manufacturers, simply due to how adaptable it is, allowing for simple engineering change out and proven improvements in productivity.
A flexible isolator can be used for a number of months and when no longer needed, put away for storage after the single-use glovebags have been safely disposed of. If the contract manufacturer wins another urgent project requiring high containment, then the system can be rolled out again, keeping the original frame and control system and needing just a new glove bag and HEPA filtration.
Therefore, not only are these flexible solutions significantly cheaper and easier to install than the rigid alternatives on the market, ONFAB are also able to deliver solutions that are more ergonomically designed, whilst simultaneously reducing waste and inefficiency. Moreover, managing their own manufacturing processes directly, ONFAB are able to meet challenging deadlines and turnarounds, usually taking just six weeks from design to installation.
Despite the pandemic, ONFAB have seen strong growth throughout 2020, thanks to the continued activity of the pharma manufacturing industry and the expansion of drug discovery work in Europe and the USA. In fact, the pandemic has actually provided new avenues for ONFAB to explore.
Fast response to develop PPE for the NHS
At the beginning of the first lockdown in the UK, ONFAB were approached by Dr Neil Sahgal, a consultant anaesthetist at Aintree University Hospital, to help develop a new device to protect healthcare professionals working in intensive care units through the COVID-19 pandemic. He wanted to develop a shield to use in addition to standard PPE when intubating patients, when the risk of releasing airborne pathogens is greatest.
Whilst ONFAB usually produce containment equipment for the pharmaceutical industry, they had not worked with the NHS before or designed a solution that would protect staff when treating a seriously ill patient lying prone. The team entered into a discussion with Dr Sahgal, conceptualising a prototype for a pop-up dome. The process involved working socially distanced evenings and over a weekend to develop prototypes that were taken to the hospital for simulation testing, and which were then updated following feedback from Dr Sahgal and his colleagues. Upon achieving the optimum design, it was submitted for approval for clinical use. ONFAB needed to adapt their manufacturing processes and add capacity without affecting existing orders, and as a result, the first thirty units rolled off the production line only eight days after the initial call. Repeat orders have since come in from hospitals across Europe and the company was a finalist in the ‘Pivot for Purpose’ category of the 2020 Lloyds Bank National Business Awards.
Driven by a network of strong industry leaders, conscientious investments, the establishment of good client relations and a culture of inventiveness and pride, the future looks bright for ONFAB. Continuing on their current trajectory, the firm is set for further growth throughout 2021, and we are excited to see the results.