Mar 8, 2018
Apace Packaging focuses all aspects of their contract packing business on fulfilling their customers’ every need. Serving the pharmaceutical and nutraceutical industries, they maintain the strictest standards for quality while offering competitively priced products. Seeking best-in-class technology, Apace turned to NJM and installed a new solid-dose bottling line with track-and-trace capabilities in 2017. NJM provided full integration services, incorporating both NJM-manufactured and sourced equipment, to deliver a high-speed system with maximum versatility.
“We needed a new line to increase our production volume and keep up with customer demand. With this integrated solution from NJM, we greatly expanded our capacity,” said Wendell Bell, Director of Operations at Apace. “This line has a throughput of 225 bottles per minute and requires only 4 or 5 operators. Our two other bottling lines handle 80 bottles per minute and each require 7 or 8 operators. The NJM line achieves almost three times the throughput with far fewer workers. This level of automation protects our product quality and keeps costs down.”
Extreme versatility is built into each machine, including the CFI-622*8 tablet counter, beltorque® capper, AUTOCOLT IV labeler and more. The line can package tablets, capsules or softgels in round, square or rectangular bottles in sizes from 40 to 1500 cc. Canister or pouch desiccants can be added, as well as cotton, rayon or polyester filler. Bottles are closed using either CT or CR caps, with optional induction sealing. Three-panel labels are applied to square and rectangular bottles and wrap-around labels to round bottles. Customers can also choose to add sideserts and topserts.
The serialization technology also has great flexibility. Both a thermal transfer printer and laser obliteration printer are mounted on the AUTOCOLT IV labeler, so either one can print variable data, including serialization information, to the label. Aggregation begins either when packing serialized bottles into bundles or when loose serialized bottles are packed directly into cases.
“This new bottling line is critical for the growth of our company,” said Patrick Ferguson, General Manager at Apace. “It was important that the line be as versatile as possible to maximize its potential. Our goal was to think of virtually any bottling scenario that a customer might bring to us, so we could always respond ‘yes’ to their request.”
Apace chose a continuous motion CFI-622*8 Tablet Counter with eight filling modules to achieve their high speeds with extreme servo-driven accuracy. Featuring interchangeable, self-contained counting modules, this compact filling system changes over to handle a new product and bottle size in just 20 minutes with no tools required. “We like everything about this tablet counter. Both the accuracy and efficiency are fantastic,” said Bell.
The integrated line also includes two beltorque systems from NJM – one acts as a capper and the other as a retorquer, which screws caps to the specified final torque, if bottles are induction sealed. Each beltorque rotates and tightens caps with two pairs of belts, a more gentle and accurate method than traditional in-line cappers that use discs or spindles. This innovative system rivals the speeds of rotary cappers while reducing maintenance and enabling faster changeovers.
On their high-speed AUTOCOLT IV pressure sensitive labeler from NJM, Apace selected nearly every available option to maximize versatility and meet almost any customer need. Featuring both thermal transfer and laser printing options, it prints variable data such as expiration date, lot number, GTIN number, alphanumeric serial number and serialized 2D code. Compared to traditional rotary labelers, the AUTOCOLT IV has simpler mechanics, fewer changeparts and a more compact footprint.
For customers looking to add outserts, NJM’s SIDESERT applicator is integrated with the AUTOCOLT IV labeler and a TOPSERT applicator is cantilevered over the labeler’s conveyor. Outserts are applied with rotating three-arm pick-and-place systems and adhered with hot melt glue to secure even the thickest pieces of folded literature, such as double and triple outserts, with accuracy at high speeds.
After labeling, the Optel BottleTracker™ prints a ‘unique identifier’ in invisible UV ink on the bottom of each bottle. The serialized code on every label is captured by cameras and each unique identifier is associated to a serialized code. A vision system at the bundler takes a single image capturing all the unique identifiers in each bundle or, if case packing loose bottles, a vision system at the case packer takes a picture of all the unique identifiers in each case layer. Unlike traditional ‘first in, first out’ aggregation systems that track each bottle going into a bundle or case, this Optel solution reduces errors to improve compliance and productivity while facilitating Level 4 serialization and Level 3 aggregation.
“This packaging line has been a dream come true. We first learned of NJM in 2009 when we walked into their booth at Pack Expo. It was immediately obvious that the design and engineering of their equipment are top notch. From that day on, we decided to go to them whenever we needed new machinery,” concluded Bell. “Our equipment from NJM always does exactly what they promise it will do. At the end of the day, we value the quality of their solutions and the impeccable customer service they provide.”