Optimising Quality and Production in the Pharmaceutical and Dietary Supplement Industries

Raising the bar in the dietary supplement industry to pharmaceutical standards, Enzymatic Therapy has relied on compact vibratory screeners to optimise product quality and production while meeting growing demand.

When Enzymatic Therapy stopped outsourcing and built its own FDA-approved manufacturing facility, the goal was to improve product quality, streamline production and ramp up sales growth. Now the Green Bay, Wisconsin-based manufacturer of dietary supplements and over-the-counter (OTC) medications is one of only a select few dietary supplement manufacturers that are in full compliance with the Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs) established for drug manufacturing facilities. Sales have also grown along with product quality.

When a company is as committed to quality and streamlined production as Enzymatic Therapy, starting the manufacturing process off properly is critical. A crucial step was selecting the right sieving equipment to remove any agglomerates, oversize particles or contaminants from incoming raw dry materials.

“For a quality end product, we need quality from the start,” says Dave Hoffman, production lead for Enzymatic Therapy. “Sieving is the first step in manufacturing for every product we make. We depend on it to break up lumps and remove any foreign materials. When some materials come out of containers, they’re hard as a rock yet have to blend properly with all the other materials.”

For quality assurance and maintenance reasons, the company frowned on brushes or metal rollers that pushed product through the sieve. “We wanted to avoid the possibility of brush fibres getting into product, as well as issues of chains, grease and metal debris potentially linked to metal rollers,” says Hoffman. For similar reasons, they disapproved of equipment where parts could potentially vibrate loose into the product stream.

“The right sieving equipment had to meet pharmaceutical grade standards, not just those for food processing,” explains Hoffman. “To minimise production downtime, all surfaces had to be cleanable. The equipment had to be quick to disassemble / reassemble, and easily portable to go where needed.”

A high-capacity Finex 22™ screener

To resolve these challenges, Enzymatic Therapy chose a high-capacity Finex 22™ from Russell Finex. The first step in ensuring quality involves passing all dry materials through a 16-mesh screen to remove oversize particles. A special magnetic trap removes any submesh-sized ferrous contaminants, which can sometimes occur due to the pulverising or processing of raw materials into powder.

“While some manufacturers do ferrous metal detection at the end, in encapsulating and tabletting areas, we do it at the beginning,” says Hoffman. “That way we can ensure that the raw materials are pure before continuing production. There’s no sense in coating a capsule or tablet, only to find out they don’t meet quality standards.”

Some materials are also run through a finer 40-mesh screen to improve binding with other materials. “What emerges is a nice, uniformly blended product that’ll pass lab specs, flow on production equipment, and dissolve properly for consumers,” explains Hoffman. “Being proactive about sieving also minimises downtime on all our other equipment downstream.”

Unlike some screeners, which have commercial hardware such as nuts and springs exposed to the material being screened, Hoffman appreciates that the Finex 22 does not, thereby eliminating the risk of hardware vibrating loose to enter the product stream. “Materials go right through the screener into containers, and there’s no chance for parts to vibrate loose into product,” says Hoffman.

Since the Finex 22 is crevice-free and entirely constructed from polished stainless steel including stands – all surfaces are easily cleanable. Its simple design makes it easy to strip down and clean without tools.

“There’s no need for tools or a tool belt when cleaning the Russell Finex unit,” says Hoffman. “We can strip one down for cleaning in 30 seconds and reassemble it just as easily so there’s no wasted downtime.”

As Enzymatic Therapy’s business has grown with its focus on quality, production and customer value, it has purchased additional compact screeners from Russell Finex. Enzymatic Therapy now has a total of four compact screeners in applications ranging from initial ingredient dispensing to product mixing.