The market for nutritional supplements is growing fast. Market researchers estimate global annual sales to be around 133 billion US dollars. They expect growth of 7.5 percent a year until 2024.
This trend goes hand-in-hand with a change in consumer awareness. “Consumers have become better informed in recent years. They have converted to whole foods, to natural, biologically certified ingredients and products.” So says Andrew Holtz, Maintenance Manager at Standard Process.
Ingredients from the company’s own organic farm
Standard Process, a US manufacturer of whole food supplements, has been using nutritious ingredients since 1929. The company’s goal is to provide foods that are as close as possible to their natural form. That is why it grows more than 80 percent of the ingredients it uses. Its 420 hectare organic farm in Wisconsin harvests more than 2,500 tons of vegetables each year.
Holtz explains what happens after harvesting: “We process our crops immediately so as to minimize the loss of phytonutrients and retain the valuable nutrient complexes. Quality control of the processing, such as checking for microorganisms and gluten content, takes place continuously. Finally the ingredients are precisely mixed and made into tablets or capsules. We offer about 50 different preparations in capsule format, either as gelatin or HPMC capsules.”
The FEC40 overcomes limitations
To do justice in the same way to the high quality requirements and the growing demand for nutritional supplements, Standard Process has been looking for an efficient capsule-filling technology since 2015. The FEC40 capsule filling machine lived up to its promise: With a yield of up to 400,000 capsules per hour at 140 cycles per minute, the FEC40 has set new standards for efficiency. Thanks to the high output, production costs for each 1,000 capsules have fallen by up to 30 percent. In order to reach this dimension of performance, Fette Compacting’s engineers have developed the first double sided capsule filling machine.
Servo and torque drives instead of the synchronized cam driven system
Anderson views the intelligent drive using servo and torque motors as a central advantage of the FEC technology: “The drive gives us enormous flexibility when setting up and refitting. All of our other capsule filling machines are controlled by cams, which makes adjustment extremely time-consuming, or even impossible. With the FEC40 on the other hand, every process step can be adjusted separately. To accelerate the set-up process, the parameters are saved with the formulation for every product. This means that downtimes are shortened from what used to be several hours down to a few minutes”.
The TRI.EASY design of the FEC40 is tailored for optimum operation. It allows for a 360° approach, even when process equipment is connected, so that the stations can be accessed easily. “The edge that the FEC40 has over every other capsule filling machine, apart from the output, is above all the ease with which the tamping pin stations can be exchanged,” adds Anderson. “The operator can dismantle them and clean them outside the machine. This saves us any number of intermediate steps and adjustment work before the machine is ready to operate again.”