Sensum d.o.o. transforms what used to be a manual, mundane job with efficient and precise innovation. Headquartered in Slovenia’s capital, Sensum is one of the premiere developers and manufacturers of automatic visual inspection systems for pharmaceutical and nutraceutical companies. Serving pharmaceutical giants like Pfizer, Novartis and Roche, the Sensum brand was catapulted into the spotlight at the same speed with which its machines inspect thousands of pills. Since then, Sensum has continued to experience steady growth, thanks to its technology-driven leadership.
Diplomatist: Started in 2000, the growth of Sensum is enormous. What is your assessment of the progress made in the last two decades?
Dr. Rok Bernard: Maintaining an innovative edge is absolutely important to us. Our business excellence is characterized firstly by our innovation. Innovation is in our DNA.
We, the founders were all scientists when we started this company. Science is our origin. Today we propel our innovation processes with combination of technology-driven and market-driven research. To achieve this, we closely cooperate with clients and universities. With the reliability, commitment, and readiness to make an extra mile we gain the trust and confidence needed to develop relationships into partnerships. The result is a fascinating business growth with a long-term perspective.
Diplomatist: Tell us about your product line, your experience, and technical capabilities.
Dr. Rok Bernard: All Sensum products are computer vision systems. These systems consist of three main components: camera, computer, and mechanical manipulator. We take physical object, convert its visual appearance into digital form by camera, quantify its quality by computer, and sort object as compliant or not by manipulator. In addition, information about quality of each individual product is available in real time, which is essential in Industry 4.0 production.
With our SPINE machine family, we gain the highest possible speed and quality of inspection.
It’s the best of the best for final inspection of tablets, capsules and soft-gelatin capsules before packaging. The Spine Hypo is designed for highly potent products for expanding oncology drugs. Spine FIBO is a combination of high-end inspection and bottle filling machine. Its advantages over current techniques are higher quality standards and significantly reduced counting risks. It is recognized by many customers as a game changer in pharmaceutical packaging.
The PATVIS on the other hand is an inline control system for coating processes. With these systems we check the product during the manufacturing process. This is a new technology and an area where we have penetrated the market through added value. PATVIS is used in the R&D process by pharmacists who try to find the optimal parameters for their processes. Regulatory agencies push Process analytical technology (PAT) into pharmaceutical manufacturing processes, and PATVIS is a PAT tool, which greatly reduces the development time of a product.
Diplomatist: How do you balance the need to respond to a crisis like COVID-19?
Dr. Rok Bernard: Our company has successfully addressed COVID-19 threats and remains fully operational throughout the crisis. The credit goes to our experienced employees who quickly adapted their daily work and operations, and strictly followed the preventive measures. At the same time, supply chains became unreliable, traveling to customers became impossible, and contrary to forecasts, our business took off. We quickly managed to cope the new situation with our established suppliers and provided digitalized services to our customers to keep the activities running. In India we have established a strong representative GV Pharma Technologies that provides local sales and aftersales support. Despite all constraints all projects were successfully completed in time, resulting in one of our company’s best annual business results.
Diplomatist: Can you tell us more about who your clients are, and how you work with them?
Dr. Rok Bernard: Our clients are pharmaceutical and nutraceutical companies with production plants for solid dose products such as tablets, capsules and soft-gelatin capsules. Our major markets are Europe, which is our domestic market, India, North America, and Japan, nevertheless we are present in other countries worldwide as well. It is important for us to have very close connections with our customers, to understand their needs, and provide the best possible solution from our portfolio. The same is true for our customers, who are looking for a reliable supplier with local presence for sales and support, which we can provide.
Diplomatist: What is the outlook for the Indian pharmaceutical industry?
Dr. Rok Bernard: I can tell the future for the Indian pharmaceutical industry is bright! It’s R&D potential is huge and its production growth and export in the last decade are amazing. In Sensum we are proud to make partnership with Indian pharmaceutical companies and support them in their growth.
Diplomatist: What do you think is the greatest opportunity for pharma to improve the speed and efficiency of discovering and developing new technologies?
Dr. Rok Bernard: Based on our experiences, it is the partnership with companies having know-how and R&D resources. New technologies are the result of systematic R&D activities combined with smart ideas that enable breakthroughs, paying-off all of the involved pain-staking work. New technologies have no value if they are too expensive and unreachable for the industry. Sensum’s moto is “Shaping Quality”, following our mission to shape high-technology solutions into affordable automatic visual inspection systems, contributing to the better quality of our customers’ products.
Diplomatist: Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been making in-roads into many industries. How is it applied to the pharmaceutical industry?
Dr. Rok Bernard: The pharmaceutical industry is highly regulated and the new concepts such as Industry 4.0 are being introduced until proven in other industries. Artificial Intelligence (AI) being part of these concepts is making its first steps in the pharmaceutical industry. Sensum products follow the concepts of Industry 4.0 as they are acquiring data about the quality of each individual product directly from production floor, and deliver information to customer business IT system.
In particular, in our products the AI has gaining a central position, as it provides the ability to quickly address challenging inspection problems of the ever-growing variety of pharmaceutical products.
Diplomatist: Looking ahead, what are the company’s goals regarding its products and technologies to aid pharma companies?
Dr. Rok Bernard: Our machines today are already much faster and far more reliable than human inspectors. The next level to reach is making machines much more flexible and easy to set for variety of different products. Sensum worked intensively on this task and we are proud to announce we are bringing solution to the market this year.
In continuous processes we see great potential of computer vision technology, as real time feedback on quality is required to regulate the process optimally.
Quality is an important category in pharmaceutical industry. In Sensum we are always open for non-trivial challenges to be solved. Being well connected with the industry I am sure we will not sit idle! Follow us on www.sensum.eu.