Tablets & Capsules


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Tablets & Capsules January 2017 37 I N D U S T R Y a p p l i c a t i o n Amway, with headquarters in Ada, MI, offers a range of health, beauty, and personal and home care products, including its trademarked Nutrilite brand of dietary supplements. The pro- ducts include premium natural ingredi- ents and reach more than 80 global markets and territories. In 2015, nutri- tion products accounted for 46 percent of Amway's $9.5 billion in sales. The importance of its nutrition business is also reflected in the $335 million expansion the company com- pleted in 2015, which comprised four new facilities in the USA, a new manu- facturing facility in India, a second manufacturing site in Vietnam, and an R&D center in China. All the US projects support the Nutrilite brand, including a $24 mil- lion plant for making nutrition-powder products; a $42 million project in Buena Park, CA, that includes R&D and pilot laboratories; a $50 million plant in Quincy, WA, that processes plants from the company's Trout Lake Farm and other sites; and an $81 mil- lion manufacturing, packaging, and warehousing facility near the com- pany's world headquarters. The new site in Michigan covers 317,000 square feet and manufactures Nutrilite vitamins, minerals, and dietary supplements. It can produce more than 1.3 billion softgels annually, including Amway's Salmon Omega-3. That's more than 3.5 million softgels a day or about 1,000 softgels per min- ute. (A video of the site's softgel manu- facturing and packaging operations is here: Relying on a single vendor To package the softgels and tablets, Amway planned two bottling lines. Normally the company's project engi- neers would select the equipment indi- vidually and then integrate them. But in this case, managers decided to award the business to a single vendor that would supply all the equipment, integrate it, and train the operators. "That was something out of the norm for Amway," said Dave DeVries, principal project engineer. "But because it was such a big undertaking with a new facility going in, it made sense to do an integrated line where we were only dealing with one vendor. We saw great value in having one ven- dor take on the whole project and pro- vide a turnkey solution." After narrow- ing the field to two, Amway selected IMA of Leominster, MA, and issued a purchase order (PO) in the spring of 2013. The installation began a year later, as soon as the newly constructed packaging room was completed. During that time, DeVries and his colleagues selected the features to include. "We worked very closely with IMA during the design phase to con- struct a custom solution that was spe- cific to our needs. IMA built flexibility into the design to allow us to add capability to the lines in the future. For example, we left space to add serializa- tion or a desiccant dispenser, two fea- tures that are currently not required but may be needed down the road." DeVries also opted for a robotic case packer instead of a pick-and-place unit. "That gives us the flexibility in the future to go with different bottle sizes and different case sizes. Those are the kinds of things we considered as we selected the features for the equipment." Once the design was finalized, the installation went smoothly because IMA sent out its installation team and two people who specialize in startups. Another two helped train staff and qualify the line, DeVries said. At first, the line ran with Amway people shad- The Uniline monoblock packaging machine combines several functions. It loads the bottles, inserts desiccants, conveys the bottles, fills them, adds cotton, caps the bottles, rejects them as needed, and transfers them to the next process. There are no size parts to transport the bottles or to change bottle sizes. Amway opts for integrated packaging lines

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