Fortress delivers a healthy dose of quality and flexibility to Nutrition Group

Sports nutrition and health supplement manufacturer Nutrition Group has installed six Stealth Pharmaceutical metal detectors from Fortress Technology as part of a major programme of upgrades and expansion

Reliability, sensitivity and ease-of-use were all key factors in the purchase, according to facilities manager Tim Edwards. However, it was Fortress’s ‘never obsolete’ guarantee that really clinched the deal. This means that Fortress will continue to support the detectors throughout their lifetime, ensuring that spares and upgrades continue to be available to maintain compliance with the latest standards.

‘We’d never used Fortress before so it was a big decision. The problem with a lot of equipment is that it can quickly become outdated, but Fortress says that it will guarantee to support its metal detectors, even if I call them up needing a part in 10 years’ time. That’s a big commitment,’ says Tim.

Fortress also provided an on-site demonstration and left a Stealth unit on site for 6 weeks so that Nutrition Group could be confident it met the company’s needs. ‘Everybody loved it. We were all impressed with the build quality, ease-of-use and general robustness. It was a clear winner,’ he says.

Blackpool-based Nutrition Group is the UK’s fastest growing contract manufacturer and packer in the sports nutrition and health supplements market, producing in excess of 3 billion tablets and 500 million capsules a year. Clients include major high street retailers, blue chip pharmaceutical organisations and leading international brands, as well as SMEs. The rapidly growing company has recently invested £2 million in state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities.

Product quality is paramount in this market and, although most of the products the company makes are classed as supplements, Nutrition Group also produces two MHRA-licensed products. The company runs the entire factory according to the same good manufacturing practice (GMP) guidelines prevalent across the pharmaceutical industry. The site is also certified to ISO 9001:2008 and British Retail Consortium (BRC) quality standards. ‘Manufacturing to these standards gives our clients confidence in our operations,’ says Tim.

Metal detection plays an important role in maintaining product quality and safety. Checking the tablets for metals as they come off the presses is one of the critical control points identified by a HACCP analysis of the Nutrition Group production process.

The new Fortress Stealth Pharmaceutical metal detectors check the loose tablets as they emerge and free-fall through the detector apertures. Rejects are diverted into lockable bins that can be removed for secure disposal. Each unit can handle up to 30,000 tablets per minute and uses digital signal processing to detect particles down to 0.15mm for ferrous and non-ferrous metals and 0.3mm for stainless steel.

As a contract manufacturer and packer, Nutrition Group produces a wide and constantly evolving range of products that demand adaptable equipment to enable rapid changeovers and easy cleaning between production runs. ‘We have relatively short production runs that can be anywhere between 100,000 tablets up to 8 or 12 million,’ says Tim. ‘Some are on and off in just half a day, so we need flexibility.’

Several features make the Stealth Pharmaceutical metal detectors ideal for this fast-paced environment. First, the detectors include a library of product characteristics, so they can swap between different products in seconds.

They are also constructed from 316 stainless steel and offer Nema4X/IP65K protection against dust and liquids, so they can withstand the factory’s rigorous cleaning regime between production runs.

In addition, they’re mounted on locking casters and offer powered height adjustment, which is unique in the market. This enables Nutrition Group to move them between tablet lines and adjust them easily and safely to suit different presses.

Most importantly, the performance of the Stealth Pharmaceutical units since installation has been virtually flawless, according to Tim. ‘The detectors have been almost entirely trouble-free,’ he confirms. ‘We had one incident early on where we hadn’t quite set one up correctly and we needed some support – I think it was just our unfamiliarity with the systems. We contacted Fortress at 4:30 in the afternoon and they helped us to sort the problem out in less than 20 minutes. It was very impressive.’

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