21st Century HealthCare turns to NJM for integrated bottling line

20-May-2022

New high-performance line increases throughput and improves efficiency

21st Century HealthCare is a top manufacturer of high quality vitamins and supplements dedicated to producing the safest and most reliable wellness formulations. This commitment to quality helps drive their success.

During the past several years, 21st Century earned double-digit annual growth and, to keep pace, expanded production last year. They turned to NJM, a ProMach product brand, and installed a high-performance integrated bottling line in 2021.

“With this new packaging line, we wanted to increase throughput, improve efficiency and ease changeover while maintaining the highest product quality. We knew that NJM would give us everything we wanted and more,” said Favio Contreras, Chief Operating Officer at 21st Century.

“Having a fully integrated line ensures the machines all work together seamlessly, which eases installation and improves performance. Giving that responsibility to NJM means we get the best technology and their great service.”

“We’re achieving roughly 25% more uptime on this new line than any of our other lines. With such high output, our line operators feel even more accomplished at the end of each shift, which is great for morale. And that high output also allows us to fulfill customer orders quickly,” explained John Horsefield, Vice President of Operations at 21st Century.

“We package close to 3000 different bulk tablets, capsules and softgels in a variety of bottle shapes and sizes, cap styles and label configurations. By design, our new packaging line can handle it all.”

“We run this line 20 hours per day and try to schedule no more than six changeovers in a week. With so many different products, it’s important that our changeovers are fast and easy. It takes only 30 minutes to fully changeover this line – that includes cleaning the line during a formulation change as well as changing the bottle, cap and label,” noted Horsefield.

“Of course, easy changeovers reduce downtime. They also help us clear, clean and set up the line to run the next product correctly, which contributes to our high product quality.”

The integrated line begins with NJM’s Unisort 32 bottle unscrambler, followed by an Abox PD2XL desiccant pouch dispenser. Anchoring the line is a Cremer 622 tablet counter, which is currently equipped with three fill heads and fed by NJM’s TE10 bulk tablet elevator.

Next is Mettler-Toledo’s Signature 300 metal detector, NJM’s beltorque BT-ICL Lite capper, Enercon’s Super Seal Touch induction sealer, a buffer table and NJM’s Trotter 127 labeller.

Following that is NJM’s belt transfer and a Leibinger Jet2 Neo inkjet coder. Capable of reaching speeds of up to 150 bottles per minute (bpm), depending on the fill count, 21st Century averages about 100 bpm across their range of products.

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“We like Cremer 622 tablet counters because they’re so accurate and flexible. They can handle every solid dose product we have, with quick and easy toolless changeovers, and always hit the right count. In fact, on our 12 packaging lines, we now have four Cremers, all installed within the past two years,” explained Contreras.

“The Cremer 622 on our new line can be equipped with four fill heads, which is a space saver compared with counters that require two machines to accommodate more than two fill heads. At the moment, we have three fill heads on this counter – we can easily add the fourth one later, plug and play, if needed. We’ve got a bulk product elevator that feeds this counter, which means one less person has to be dedicated to the line.”

NJM’s beltorque BT-ICL Lite cappers also help maximise product quality and production versatility at 21st Century. Unlike traditional cappers that use discs or spindles that can skew and scuff caps, beltorque features two pairs of belts that gently rotate and tighten caps by synchronising the speed of the containers with the rotating speed of the closures.

“We like beltorque cappers because they don’t damage our caps and the precision of the cap placement and torque lead to accurate capping and better induction sealing. Typically, a child-resistant cap is the hardest for most cappers to apply, but beltorque makes it easy,” said Horsefield. “Right after we installed our second beltorque, we ordered four more of them for other packaging lines.”

21st Century selected NJM’s Trotter 127 labeller for their new integrated line based on their positive experiences with their older Trotter labellers.

This adaptable pressure sensitive labeller can apply wraparound, front-and-back and 3-, 4- and 5-panel labels to round, square, rectangular and oval bottles. “Applying a three-panel wraparound label along with a back label to a rectangular bottle can be difficult, especially at the speeds we run – most manufacturers would shy away from that. Our success with this challenging application is pretty incredible,” noted Horsefield.

“We like working with NJM because of their industry expertise as well as their best-in-class technology and world-class service,” concluded Contreras.

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“They listen to our objectives and understand our challenges, and then they design the ideal integrated solution for us. We know the equipment will be robust and the line will perform as expected. The NJM team always stands behind the promises they make.”

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