Pest control and management is crucial to any manufacturing/storage facility, particularly for pharmaceutical manufacturing facilities. The demand for integrated pest management is manifold as it is a part of the mandatory requirements for the third party audits such as the periodical CGMP audit conducted by the state drug control department, WHO GMP audit and various other customer and regulatory audits across the world. Vanan Pharma seems to have encashed the opportunity with its fully automated state-of-the-art facility that can manufacture about 400,000 units (bottles) varying in volume. About 175 people work in the manufacturing and packing area and 35 people work in critical areas, which support manufacturing, raw material sampling and dispensing.
Partnership with Rentokil
Rentokil Initial has been servicing Vanan Pharma for the last 18 months right from the time when the construction of the facility had begun. Shaiju George, National Technical Manager, Rentokil Initial Ltd explained the company’s tailor-made pest management services extended to pharma sector. “The programme is the same for industries but is fine-tuned for pharma manufacturing facilities. Also, the plan might further vary for a local manufacturer and a bulk exporter of pharmaceutical products as their auditory bodies and regulations vary correspondingly.”
The level and nature of pest infestation in the remote plant site surrounded by the Thennery Lake and a thick ring of lush vegetation were too challenging to handle. Vinod R, Assistant General Manager, Vanan Pharma, averred that their first attempt was to put up physical barriers and apply insecticides to combat snakes, rodents, migratory birds, mosquitoes and flies that assaulted the place. When Rentokil Initial entered into the picture, the first step was to implement an effective control programme for rodents and snakes that overpopulated the site.
Pest Control Methodology
Rentokil Initial delivered an integrated pest management programme with a clear-cut plan depending on the kind of pest and the risk posed by the pest to the industry. The programme addressed two important issues: one is the control of the pest and the other is the management of the controlled population for a longer period of time.
The methods of control include chemical and non-chemical treatments. The choice of method is governed by factors such as the kind of pest, nature of chemicals that can be used in the environment, equipment, areas to be treated and type of treatments. In general, insecticides are restricted inside the food and pharma facilities.
“After consultation with the client, a detailed pest control programme is drawn. Ideally, it starts with the inspection of the site followed by an analysis on the type of pests and the risk percentage on that particular location. A stringent in-house cleaning procedure in the site comes as a great value-add to an effective pest management programme.”
At Vanan Pharma, the waste handled is nontoxic and non-hazardous in nature. Most of the waste comprises sorted rejects of glass & PET bottles, de-cartoned corrugated boxes, shredded paper wastes, used polyethylene covers and wrappers, sorted rejects of aluminium ROPP caps and HDPE & MS containers. All other industrial (non-hazardous) and domestic effluents are handled through effluent treatment process.
Vanan Pharma is classified as orange belt by the pollution control board owing to the zero discharge maintenance. For waste management, Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) are maintained. Explaining the waste disposal process, Vinod said: “The day-to-day wastes are collected at the scrap yard. These are segregated and stored in the designated area in secured condition and are disposed off through licensed agencies which take them away in covered trucks. General category wastes are disposed once in a month. All the industrial and domestic wastes generated through effluent treatment are disposed off every year. Moreover, all the effluent waste is disposed off as per the prescribed norms of PCB through licensed agencies.”
Cleaning at Vanan
The cleaning procedures employed are dry and wet moping and deep cleaning that is carried out using wet scrubbers. “Generally, we use surfactants like SLS (sodium lauryl sulphate) and soap solution (non-perfumed). All critical process areas are sanitized daily using nontoxic disinfectants. The drain points in critical areas are cleaned and sanitized daily after completion of work. An exclusive schedule is maintained for carrying out the cleaning activities. We maintain air classification at ISO Class-VIII conditions required for manufacturing liquid orals,” said Vinod.
Rodents commonly are the most problematic of pests. The kinds of rodents that pose problems are the bandicoots and roof rats but house mice are not as problematic as these. In addition there are lizards, cockroaches, flies and mosquitoes. The nature of the pests varies depending on the nature of its location. “The risk parameters include building integrity, surrounding environment, pest history, hygiene and sanitation, stocking procedures, level of infestation of the premises to be treated . At Vanan Pharma we have deployed control and management methods for rodents, cockroaches, flies, lizards, mosquitoes and flies,” explained George.
The first step was to identify the type of pest and the extent of infestation to determine the pest risk to the customer. For rodent control, together with the exclusion and restriction procedures, specialised poison baits were installed at the external perimeter and the external building wall of the building as a first and second line of defence and glue traps, live cages and snap traps as a third line of defence. It is then the team geared to jump into action. “We record all the observation. The position from which poison is consumed gives us a fair idea about the extent and concentration of possible rodent attack on the site. Then we find out the accessible areas and do a deep analysis on entry points. We discuss the findings with the client and take his help to block the entry points. This will radically cut down the internal population. The analysis and observation continues and the client is kept informed of further identification and control of the pest,” said George.
Pest control for flies starts with larvae control. Possible breeding sites within the premises are identified and specific chemicals are used to kill the larvae. Second step is the control the adults through residual application of chemicals on resting flies. Further control and monitoring mechanism with fly-catchers are installed on. On the choice and efficacy of fly-catchers, George said, “Instead of the snapper types that can scatter fragments all over, we opt for Luminos-3 with glue-boards and place it in strategic locations. We monitor the type of flies and their count number at regular intervals, identify the location where maximum number is caught and adopt corresponding control measures.”
Vinod added, “To avoid accidental entry of various flies, entry points are equipped with laminar air flow curtains and insects into the core area when doors are opened. Periodical (including seasonal) disinfection of premises are carried out to render the location a pest free zone. Glue pads are used in all storage areas such as bottles, corrugated boxes, labels, pack inserts and cartons to avoid crawling pests. As suggested, the premise is well protected and compound wall is provided and a Rentokil representative is dedicated to oversee the process.”
The integrated approach for cockroach control includes prevention, restriction and destruction. After a thorough inspection of the site, accounting the sanitation & hygiene levels and assessing the level of infestation, spot application of a non-volatile gel insecticide is made at critical areas. This brings down the level of infestation. George commented, “There is no thumb-rule in the frequency of monitoring and service. It purely depends on the facility, kind of chemical which is selected for application and its toxic longevity. The SOP, identification, action and control of each kind of pest in specific areas and treatments are recorded and signed at the end of the month by the respective authorities. The data collected helps us in preparing the monthly trend analysis report.”
Rentokil uses chemicals that are approved by Central Insecticide Board (CIB), Ministry of Agriculture, the Government of India and conform by the WHO guidelines regarding use of chemicals for residential and urban environment. George opined that only few chemicals in India are eco-friendly and so less toxic insecticides with a high LD-50 value is being used. “It kills the pest but is low toxic to humans and other mammals.” Also, these insecticides are bio-degradable. “The bio-degradable data is made available to the customer. Since we do not want to endanger their environment with harmful chemical residue, the longevity of these chemicals is less,” George added.
Vinod is very satisfied with Rentokil Initial’s methods deployed at Vanan Pharma. “The methods are effective to control the pest defined at our site and are in compliance with the regulatory requirements of various renowned regulatory bodies and SOP. Moreover, the procedures followed and products installed are user friendly, easy to handle, operate and maintain. The chemicals used are nontoxic and there is no overkill. The overall pest and waste management employed is suitable for orange belt category.”
Though only safe chemicals are used by policy, Rentokil Initial is aimed at controlled usage of chemical insecticides. Their line of approach falls on four major parameters- exclusion, restriction (of food, shelter, water to the pests) and destruction (chemical and non-chemical). “Our monitoring methods are enough to track and destroy the pests,” stated George. “In identifying the pest control threshold, we have critical limits. When the level goes beyond that, we abandon the conventional plan and switch over to the contingency method, identify the root cause of the outbreak, arrest the attack and get back to our original approach.”
The Next Level of IPM
In addition to the control measures, the IPM programme is being moved to the next level by creating awareness programmes in the clients’ place. According to Vinod, the awareness programme has thrown more light on handling of waste materials, movement, segregation and thereby better pest management at the factory premises. Now the management’s protocols have been tweaked so as not to allow any water stagnation at the premises, ensure timely removal of weeds, avoid grassy overgrowth, closing of entry points for pests and providing a proper compound wall to avoid access for pests from outside. No gaps, cracks or crevices are left unattended.
“Best results can be achieved only if the client works hand in hand with the IPM company,” said George. The perceived service management for IPM programmes are quite high. Sometimes the understanding and involvement are not mutual or there is disconnect among technicians, supervisors and factory managers and making the sites virtually pest-proof is not possible. Matching clients’ high expectations is a tough challenge. “Of all, lizards and rodents are difficult to control. Even a single cockroach or lizard in the premises is enough to rattle the client. They breed outside and enter the building through small openings. Even though pharma companies have a high standard of building integrity rodents manage to enter the site. Our exclusivity relies on the imported pest control devices we use. They are of high quality, efficiency and are safe to use. The pests get trapped and locked inside the box-like structures and nobody except our technicians can have access to open and discard the pest. Since they last for a longer period of time, clients need not spend repeatedly on these devices,” George signed off highlighting Rentokil Initial’s USP.