- A manufacturer and distributor of nutritional supplements wanted to replace an ageing benchtop liquid filler due to reliability and spares issues
- Based on accuracy of dispensing, HealthAid selected a Flexicon PF6 peristaltic filler
- Precision is essential when dispensing expensive aromatherapy oils
Harrow-based HealthAid, one of the UK’s premier manufacturers and distributors of nutritionally balanced supplements, has replaced its ageing and increasingly unreliable filling machine with a Flexicon PF6 tabletop aseptic liquid filler from Watson-Marlow Fluid Technology Group. The investment has not only increased machine uptime, but boosted dispensing accuracy, a vital consideration when processing expensive aromatherapy oils.
Established in 1982, HealthAid has established a portfolio of over 500 products that offer nutritional solutions to meet the demands of modern, hectic lifestyles. The products are sold to wholesalers, health food stores and independent outlets, both in the UK and worldwide.
50 different lines
Aromatherapy oils are a major component of the company’s product offer, comprising over 50 different lines in pure essential oils, base oils, massage oils and bath oils. However, until recently, the bottles were filled using an ageing liquid filling machine that was increasingly prone to breakdowns. To exacerbate the situation, the machine was no longer supported, meaning spares were difficult to obtain.
“Although the machine had given a long service life, it was clear that the time had arrived to invest in a replacement,” says Anant Patel, HealthAid’s General Manager. “We considered a number of benchtop fillers, but having tested the Flexicon PF6 and talked to existing users, we felt it was ideal for our application.”
HealthAid fills its aromatherapy oils into 2ml, 5ml, 10ml and 30ml bottles (along with any special sizes requested by the customer). Batches are typically small, with each product line scheduled for filling around every two months. However, due to the presence of around 50 different product types, the machine works continuously every day. Accuracy of dispensing is vital as aromatherapy oils are a costly commodity. The Flexicon filler also ensures rapid changeover between batches with minimum product loss.
“The speed of the machine is good and productivity is clearly important, but it’s not the top factor,” says Mr Patel. “Precision of dispensing is the leading consideration due to the cost of aromatherapy oils. Any under-fill and the customer will feel short-changed, and we do not want our reputation to be tarnished.”
The PF6 tabletop aseptic liquid filler provides HealthAid with both accuracy (±0.5%) and repeatability. The peristaltic filling principle delivers the widely recognised benefits of precise filling, zero cross contamination and ease of cleaning. Contamination between aromatherapy oils is avoided at HealthAid by changing the AccusilTM platinum-cured silicone tubing (from Watson-Marlow) for each oil.
Installed in February 2015, the Flexicon PF6 has been installed in the company’s dedicated oil filling room where it operates as a stand-alone asset. Two people are trained to use the machine, which is fully programmable by an intuitive keypad and LCD display. The PF6 has a volume range from 0.2 ml to more than 250 ml, while the quick change pump head can work with seven different tube sizes.
“We are very happy with the Flexicon PF6,” concludes Mr Patel. “In the six months it has been here, it hasn’t missed a beat and has increased our uptime and productivity, as well as accuracy. Also, the people at Watson-Marlow have been very attentive to our requirements.”