Finding New Roads

Sept. 11, 2017
Customer demands are shifting fast, and new designs are helping manufacturers navigate the market apex

Just in time for its 115-year anniversary, Harley-Davidson unveiled what the iconic motorcycle manufacturer is touting as its largest ever product development project - eight redesigned cruisers and five new touring bikes for 2018.

But it’s not just about celebrating its 115th anniversary; Harley-Davidson is losing market share and watching its baby-boomer customer base age out of riding.

Intensive customer research has revealed that a large part of the problem has to do with design. Essentially, next-generation riders want bikes with more sophisticated packaging.

As you will read in this month’s issue, with a special focus on packaging, the drug industry can identify with Harley-Davidson’s struggles. The rising popularity of new biological drug formulations is creating unique packaging challenges and equipment demands. Due to the complex nature of these next-generation (mostly liquid injectable) drugs, they are particularly sensitive to leachables. According to industry expert Jerry Martin (see State of Packaging in the Pharma Industry), each biosimilar will require different precautions and react with packaging differently.

As you will read in our product focus discussion, packaging equipment suppliers are designing equipment to meet the specific needs prioritized by the modern-day pharmaceutical industry. Many new biologics are in the form of targeted therapies and personalized medicines, thus driving drug manufacturers to produce treatments more efficiently and in smaller quantities. These new roads demand a more flexible, scalable approach to meeting the industry’s packaging needs.

In the drug industry, this move toward smaller, more responsive production lines is causing an increased need for contract packaging organizations. These contract packagers are tasked with a challenge similar to the one Harley-Davidson is facing: drug manufacturers are looking for more design innovation in packaging - and they are relying on contract packagers to provide it. And as you will read in this month’s cover story, contract packagers are hammering down.

Harley-Davidson, too, appears to have delivered, by coming up with a new line of bikes that maintain the classic Harley feel but on a lighter, more powerful, more high-tech frame. Harley says all eight of the 2018 cruisers offer quicker acceleration, better braking and handling than previous models. The new cruisers are even sporting modern features like LED, USB ports, digital instrument screens and keyless ignition.

Not surprisingly, agility is key. Harley-Davidson’s new bikes will enable a next-generation of riders to steer and corner more easily, and new drug packaging will enable drug manufacturers to navigate the twists and turns of modern pharma market demands. New paths have been paved, and for both industries, the adventure continues.

About the Author

Karen P. Langhauser | Chief Content Director, Pharma Manufacturing

Karen currently serves as Pharma Manufacturing's chief content director.

Now having dedicated her entire career to b2b journalism, Karen got her start writing for Food Manufacturing magazine. She made the decision to trade food for drugs in 2013, when she joined Putman Media as the digital content manager for Pharma Manufacturing, later taking the helm on the brand in 2016.

As an award-winning journalist with 20+ years experience writing in the manufacturing space, Karen passionately believes that b2b content does not have to suck. As the content director, her ongoing mission has been to keep Pharma Manufacturing's editorial look, tone and content fresh and accessible.

Karen graduated with honors from Bucknell University, where she majored in English and played Division 1 softball for the Bison. Happily living in NJ's famed Asbury Park, Karen is a retired Garden State Rollergirl, known to the roller derby community as the 'Predator-in-Chief.'