As a leading contract manufacturer of dietary supplements, Wellington Foods is focused on producing products that help people live healthy lives. Since this includes ensuring product safety, they leverage Mettler-Toledo Safeline’s high-performance X37 X-ray inspection system, which can find even the hardest-to-detect foreign material such as a glass shard inside a glass bottle.
The X-ray system offers Wellington production versatility, high throughput, and low energy consumption in addition to superior detection sensitivity.
“Dietary supplement manufacturing and packaging must be completed in compliance with strict regulatory oversight from government agencies. We must also meet the high standards of our third-party cGMP certification auditors, our customer requirements, and our own quality system,” said Tony Harnack, CEO of Wellington. “When we decided to invest in new inspection technology, we searched for the best system for our application.”
“We identified early on that we needed an X-ray system instead of a metal detector to help us maintain the highest product safety. For one thing, we wanted to detect all types of potential contamination, not just metal. Also, we wanted to inspect our product after the packages were sealed and many of our packaged products have a tamper evident foil seal, which isn’t possible to inspect with a metal detector,” said Steve Nering, Vice President of Quality at Wellington. “From there, we considered the total cost of the system, equipment reliability, and the supplier’s customer service. I’ve personally worked with Mettler-Toledo Safeline many times over the years, so I know firsthand that they make world-class equipment and support it with great service.”
The X37 is a versatile, high-speed inspection system designed for nutraceuticals as well as pharmaceuticals, foods, and other products packaged in tall, rigid containers made of metal, glass, plastic, paperboard, and more. It’s available with a low, medium or high-powered generator and a choice of either a 0.4 or 0.8 mm (0.02 or 0.03 in.) detector to meet the specific requirements of each customer. Depending on the application, it can inspect up to 1,200 packages per minute.
“Throughout our search, Mettler-Toledo was our first choice,” said Juan Ortega, Project Manager at Wellington. “As for selecting the exact model and options, we relied on the recommendations we got from our sales rep, Jonathon Vanderhorst of Pacific Packaging and Inspection. He helped us choose the X37, which is one of Mettler-Toledo Safeline’s most advanced detection systems. It’s able to detect a metal fragment, glass shard, dense plastic, and other foreign material while also performing product integrity checks such as confirming fill level and making sure caps are applied correctly and not skewed.”
Wellington’s X37 X-ray is inspecting liquid dietary supplements such as multivitamins, mineral products, and joint health products in bottles made of HDPE, PVC or glass and ranging in size from 2 oz. to 1 L (0.3 gal). With a maximum throughput of 200 bottles per minute on this line, they’re able to achieve the detection sensitivity they need with Mettler-Toledo’s low-powered X-ray generator, which improves their energy efficiency and reduces their operating costs.
The X37 at Wellington was installed at the end of the packaging line over an existing conveyor to minimize floor space requirements. After the X37 X-ray system, ‘good’ products flow downstream to Wellington’s cartoner and case packer. Out-of-tolerance products are automatically removed from the line using a Mettler-Toledo pneumatic reject device, which pushes ‘bad’ bottles into a lockable bin where they’re held until removed by the QA team, tested to identify the issue, and ultimately destroyed.
“Our X37 is the easiest system to change over on this entire packaging line. It’s programmed to know what every ‘good’ package looks like, and it will reject anything out of the ordinary,” said Ortega. “During a changeover, we simply tap the touchscreen to select a new recipe that’s saved to memory. Then we send a couple of bottles and test rods through to verify the setup is correct. It’s very quick and easy, and it requires no adjustments.”
“During production, we check the X-ray system every 30 minutes by sending test rods through,” added Nering. “The X37 is extremely accurate. Even at our high level of sensitivity, we’ve had no false rejects.”
“Since we’re handling liquid products, sanitation is very important. There’s always the potential for spills and sticky surfaces,” said Chuck Sprague, Vice President of Operations at Wellington. “Our X37 is actually rated for IP65 and a full washdown environment, which is more than we currently need. We typically just wipe it down and it’s ready to go.”
“The X37 is a reliable, top-of-the-line X-ray system,” said Harnack. “Thanks to its high level of performance, this system gives us confidence that every product we’re sending to consumers is safe. Final product inspection with our X37 is absolutely non-negotiable for both compliance and our peace of mind.”