Nigeria continues to record ground-breaking developments in the Health Sector. Syringe Manufacturing is not a major strength of Nigeria, but the story is about to change. Jubilee Syringe Manufacturing Company limited also known as Jubilee Syringe Factory seems to be raising the bar fast.
I am very positive about this… read on to get a glimpse of why and how I caught the “Jubilee Fever”.
Jubilee Syringe Manufacturing Company Limited is a factory sprawled over a massive 8,000 square meter (sqm) land area in 1 Jubilee Close off Jubilee Road, Awa, Onna L.G.A. Akwa Ibom State, 524107, Akwa Ibom State.
Yes!!! You read it right. The biggest syringe factory in Africa is sited in Akwa-Ibom State.
On a recent Media Tour of the factory, I had unfettered, guided access at the factory that is disrupting the ‘Nigerian’ norm and setting a high standard.
At The Jubilee Syringe Factory Gate
The factory surrounding looks primed to host such an important project for the state. Road access, security presence and other necessary amenities caught my eyes as our vehicle was scrutinized at the gate, just before we were flagged into the vast ground of the factory.
In a short while we were seated in the office space of the Managing Director, Mr Zubeyir Gulabi a Turkish National and a Nigerian by heart (20 years in Nigeria and a traditional title in Akwa-Ibom).
Eager and receptive, Mr Zubeyir fondly called MD, welcomed us to his office. Right away, we entered into serious mode, as Mr Zubeyir fielded questions from the 10-man media team on tour of his facility. There were representations from major media houses and health blogs.
The threat of kidnappings is the least thing on his mind, he says, confirming that he knows because he has been in Nigeria for the past 20 years.
“I do not agree”
“Nigeria is not the worst country with cases of kidnapping … It is ranked 139th in the world”. As a political scientist he knows this.
Another interesting thing was when he was asked about the investment climate in Nigeria, he was sure Nigeria was on the right path. With over 25 Million USD invested in this facility, one would expect it to be site in bigger industrial hubs in the country like Lagos, Port Harcourt, Aba etc.
He says Akwa Ibom State is the best location for the factory. Quickly he reels out the reasons for this as; Akwa Ibom have a friendly Investment Policy, very high in its ease of doing business, security is optimum, and it is close to the raw materials. The factory sources its raw materials from Port-Harcourt.
Mr Zubeyir agrees that power is a major hurdle the factory has to grapple with. The factory gulps about 40 million Naira monthly on fuel to power the generators. However, with the Medical Device Integrated Policy of the Federal Government, a whole lot action is turning up for good in the industry.
It was time to begin the tour and the Quality Control Manager – Mary Daniel was on hand to guide us through.
THE JUBILEE SYRINGE FACTORY TOUR
Every worker coming to work have to go through a systematic entrance pathway. This is especially so for production staff who have to maintain a sterile environment in the production chambers.
On gaining access into the Jubilee Syringe factory, Production staffers have to move to a Changing Room to wear their work gear and shoes. Then on to the Cross Over area from where they pass through an Air-tight section.
The female staffers trim their hairs (and do not wear hair accessories), wipe off lipsticks, facial cosmetics, nail polishes and accessories as they report for work. The male staffers shave off all facial beards before reporting into the chamber. This is to prevent dust particles and other impurities from being in the production chamber.
It is a strong part of Quality Control, according to Mary Daniels.
The hall-ways are white and shiny… this allows for easy identification of dusts and impurities and subsequent removal. Once again, it is the duty of Quality Control staff to ensure every where is sparky and clean.
THE PRODUCTION LINE
The process of syringe making is quite complex and must be precise for the finished product to be good enough for human use. We were not allowed access into the production section for reasons of contamination. However, we got a rare view of how a syringe is produced.
The Quality Control Manager, Mary Daniel led the initial stages of the tour. Systematically the tour moved from one stage of production to the next.
INJECTION ROLLING SECTION
The tour started off at the Injection Rolling Section where the plunger and barrel (the two parts of a syringe) are made. The plungers are made from Polyethylene (PE) while the plungers are made from Polypropylene (PP). These two products are by-products of petroleum extraction. Following a set mould, plungers and barrels are rolled out.
The plungers and barrels are packed and left to cool off for about 24 hours in bags. Quality Control personnel ensures that the syringe do not have dimensional dis-configurations. Other quality control problems like presence of impurities in the syringe are also taken care of.
She assures that the syringe facility is a 100,000 G-Class facility, as such particulate impurities are in their barest minimum.
So after 24-hours, the plungers and barrels are brought to a Serography Machine. The machine have different tasks based on the volume size of the syringe.
The machines ensure proper imprinting of calibration figures on the barrels. The factory produces 2-mls, 5-mls, and 10-mls syringes. It is the serography machine that imprints on them.
THE ASSEMBLY MACHINE
The whole process, as described from the beginning, must be done in air-tight particle free surrounding. This is particularly true for this step. The Assembly point must be done right.
The Assembly Machine fuses the printed Barrel and the plunger together removing air impurities between both of them. It is quite a sensitive machine that it ‘picks’ out and separates bad syringes from the good ones. A Test for Sliders using ethylene oxide gas ensure conformity to standard.
I should state at this point that In-process moulding checks is done every 2-hours and 100% physical sorting is a part of the process done.
THE PACKING MACHINE
These machines are Lister Packing Machines, the best in the Syringe Production Industry. It houses a silo where the syringes are poured in. Then the machine arranges the syringes in sets of 10s from where blister film perforations wrap around the syringe. A streamer carries 10 units syringe.
As in other major step described above, a finished product must be inspected and approved by Quality Assurance personnel. They sort out the Rejects and forward them to laboratory for further analysis.
Then specialized workers pack syringes in pallets for onward sterilization. Biological indicators are inserted to the test for a 48-hour period. In the event of a positive outcome, a Certificate of Analysis is issued. This makes any carton a finished good.
Each carton must be tagged with a NAFDAC Number, Batch Number, Manufacturing Date and Expiration Date
In the tour, other key company officials popped in to address their role in the factory;
“I am particularly involved in ensuring work-place safety, Analysis and Identification of Risks in the work place. I conduct periodic inductions and training for workers in the facility.” – Ndifreke Esu (Safety Control Officer)
“We understand that our role in packaging is important, that is why everyone doing packaging is focused and happy to be doing his part.” – Idara Umoh (Supervisor, Packaging)
“Gladly the skills and competences have improved and we learn everyday… 70 – 75% Employment staff are Indigenes of Akwa-Ibom” – Mr Victor George Felix (Production Manager)
From the entrance of the gate, you are greeted with an environment that is organized, conducive and result oriented. Everything seemed planned, and structured for a certain end.
Vehicles moving on the street of the factory are reminded to drive carefully and respectfully, after all everyone (pedestrians and drivers alike) deserve equal opportunity as they move around.
A work-place should not be complex, yet it must not be simplistic. With signs, codes and directions, a work-place shines alive and active. The results are usually positive.
The Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo cut the ribbons to this gigantic facility last year 2017. The interior work-place speaks volumes.
Key offices and critical points are off limits for those without necessary clearance… Access to these areas requires specialized key cards.
Just swipe and enter (if you have clearance). Cool right?!!!
The Dining section is reserved for break time/lunch time for staff and visitors. The Dining section can comfortably house 60-hungry people. It is very conducive for relaxation and mingling among staffers.
And then I needed to take a leak… I was impressed that the toilets too are clean to a fault.
The Jubilee Syringe Factory is too unique and exceptional in many ways.
Thankfully, I applaud Mr Godwin Akpan – the Facilitator of this tour, and Mr , Administrative Manager for making this tour worthwhile and interesting.