Datwyler breaks ground on Middletown pharma facility

Datwyler manufacturing facility
The new Datwyler manufacturing facility in Middletown will be the first to utilize the company’s FirstLine standards, which features ultra-modern clean room technology, automated production cells, fully automated camera inspection and a unique washing process.

By Christi Milligan

Swiss-based Datwyler, a leading supplier of customized sealing solutions, has broken ground on a $102 million manufacturing facility that will enhance the company’s presence in the U.S. pharmaceutical market and increase Middletown’s industry portfolio.

Construction is scheduled to begin in early 2017, with production slated for the first half of 2018. It will be the 100-year-old company’s most advanced state-of-the-art manufacturing facility for products that cater to the global health-care industry as part of its Sealing Solutions division.

“We went through extensive evaluation process all over the U.S. but primarily focused on the mid-Atlantic region really because it’s a pharmaceutical hotbed,” said Megan Williamson, vice president of Injection Systems.

The company manufactures elastomer components for injectable pharmaceutical packaging like syringes, stoppers, caps for vials, as well as rubber components for cartridges like those found in the epinephrine injection pens.

Datwyler Sealing Solutions division also owns and operates a manufacturing facility in Pennsauken, N.J.

“We have lots of customers in this area, it’s close to our existing facility in Pennsauken and conveniently located to cities and ports and rail to optimize supply,” added Williamson.

While logistically the construction of a new site in this region made sense, Middletown Mayor Kenneth Branner said it was the dual endorsements of Johnson Controls and Amazon Fulfillment Center execs that convinced Datwyler officials the town was shovel-ready and able to meet its timeline.

After an initial meeting with company officials that included Gov. Markell, Branner said Datwyler officials asked him to arrange a meeting with officials from the two companies with operations in Middletown.

“We had no idea what they wanted,” said Branner.  “It was kind of strange.”

Turns out they wanted the truth. Was Middletown’s potential — including its infrastructure and ability to streamline the construction process — for real?  Amazon and Johnson Controls officials confirmed it was, said Branner.

“The folks at Datwyler told us they’d get back to us in a couple of weeks.  It took two days,” said Branner.

The new Datwyler facility will be located between Johnson Controls and the Amazon fulfillment on Merrimac Avenue.

Once operational, the new plant will provide jobs for around 120 employees, many of them high-paying wages, about $75,000 and up, according to Branner.

“We’re tickled,” said the mayor. “You’re talking high-end jobs. This will give us the ability to draw others along the same lines, and it gives us a diversity of manufacturing and high-tech jobs. It expands our portfolio.”

While not the first U.S. manufacturing facility for the Sealing Solutions division, it is the first to use the company’s FirstLine standards. The technology, developed by Datwyler, comprises a manufacturing concept for high-quality elastomer components based on ultra-modern clean room technology, automated production cells, fully automated camera inspection and a unique washing process.

“I think this should be a sign of Datwyler’s confidence not only in the market in Delaware but in the organization as a whole,” said Williamson. “We believe we can be successful in one of the worlds largest pharmaceutical markets.

“We could have easily built a facility in China but the Swiss saw a lot of opportunity in U.S. and the mid-Atlantic region,” she said.

The Datwyler Group has more than 50 operating companies and around 7,000 employees.

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