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Vitamin packer wins new production in Las Vegas

Naturally Vitamins' president didn't go to Las Vegas to gamble, but a visit to Pack Expo there in '97 led to purchases that doubled packaging output and productivity.

With a new plant in the works designed specifically to achieve maximum efficiency Joachim Lehmann president of Naturally Vitamins Scottsdale AZ is looking forward to returning to Las Vegas in October for Pack Expo Las Vegas 99.

After Lehmann attended the last Pack Expo in Las Vegas key packaging machinery purchased at the show resulted in the company increasing its packaging speed and productivity by more than 100%. Pack Expo Las Vegas 99 is scheduled for Oct. 18 to 21 at the Sands Convention Center. The show is sponsored by the Packaging Machinery Manufacturers Institute (Arlington VA).

Naturally Vitamins had been struggling with antiquated equipment when Lehmann went to Las Vegas to find a new bottle unscrambler. "The unscrambler we were using then was about ten years old" explains Lehmann. "It was slow inefficient and lacking important features that would make us more productive." The older model was not computerized or automated.

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"We needed a machine that would stop automatically when bottles were not standing upright" Lehmann recalls. "Our machine was labor-intensive because someone always had to monitor it." In addition the aging machine's operation was unreliable and slow often creating bottlenecks that limited the line's output per minute.

A bottle unscrambler from Pace Packaging (Fairfield NJ) purchased at the '97 show increased line speed from 20 to 80 bpm and requires less labor. "The Pace machine is fully automatic. It runs faster stops if a bottle gets stuck and has an air washing feature that is necessary to provide a superior product to our customers" says Lehmann.

The new machine also handles the varied sizes of Naturally Vitamins' 500 different nutraceutical products with minimal time required for changeover.

Twice as nice

With higher output as the primary goal the company made a second purchase at the show in Las Vegas: a Desiccant Inserter from Omega Design (Exton PA). "We had one Omega and we wanted a second machine to increase our capacity" says Lehmann. The show provided the vitamin company president an opportunity to compare different machines.

"I looked at many different manufacturers throughout the show but we decided to add a second Omega. It was the most versatile machine allowing our crew to change either the bottle size or desiccant size in under a minute."

With new equipment in place Lehmann streamlined the entire packaging line and is now able to produce more products. He explains "We have more than doubled our monthly output. Our line has shifted from 35 bottles a minute to between 80 to 120 bottles per minute with less labor."

Lehmann admits that nutraceuticals is a competitive industry. "We compete with other manufacturers who use the most technologically advanced equipment. The only way to stay competitive is to keep up technologically."

Watching the bottom line also helps Lehmann stay competitive. Attending shows like Pack Expo Las Vegas can be an economical way to make large capital investments. "The manufacturers often give show discounts" he explains. "I get machinery cheaper by going to Pack Expo Las Vegas and I get to see everything that is available to make an informed decision."

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