When you hold in your hands the patent on an all-natural supplement product that studies show could provide relief for health conditions as varied and devastating as Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and perhaps even cancer, company growth is an inevitable side effect. Since 1984, Billings, MT-based All American Pharmaceutical & Natural Foods Corp. has been developing and manufacturing sports nutrition and dietary supplement products based on its Kre-Alkalyn® formulation, which it believes may be just such a miracle product.
All American's Kre-Alkalyn is a stable form of the compound creatine, often used by athletes and bodybuilders as a supplement to enhance athletic performance and build lean body mass. With its second product, Kre-Celazine®, the company put Kre-Alkalyn's pain-lowering capabilities to work, launching a supplement specifically to address joint flexibility and pain relief-reportedly without side effects.
With the popularity of these two products, which All American manufactures and co-packs for private-label customers globally in addition to other, related products, the company already has experienced impressive growth. Since January 2007, All American has installed two packaging lines by CVC Technologies and is in the process of specifying two more CVC lines.
In selecting a supplier for its two new lines—one a capsule/tablet filler, the other a liquid filler—All American first needed to find a company that could provide highly flexible equipment. All American offers its private-label customers a range of package sizes and styles, as well as a variety of product options.
Second, All American required a supplier that could provide equipment configured and integrated specifically for its needs.
The new equipment was added to both accommodate new growth and replace outdated equipment. But Joe Archer, All American vice president of sales and marketing, says the company held onto some existing semiautomated machinery to meet the needs of short-run customers.
"Some co-packers, for example in the capsule-filling industry, don't even want to talk to you if you aren't running a million to five million capsules," he explains. "We will run 25,000 and even 10,000, depending on the product, to help startup companies get their product on the market without a huge investment."
The first new line fills capsules and tablets. The fully automated line accommodates bottle sizes from 50 cc to 500 cc and packages everything from vitamins to herbs to sports nutrition supplements. The line is equipped with PLC controls from Panasonic.
The line leads off with a CVC 1103 pouch desiccant inserter that drops 1/4-oz sachets into bottles as they pass under the machine, carried by a conveyor fed manually with empty bottles. The second stop for bottles is the counter/filler, a DVC 1220 Challenger, co-manufactured by CVC and Cremer. Following filling, a CVC 1117 cottoner converts cotton into preset lengths, folds the cotton coils, and inserts them into bottles by means of a Festo air cylinder.
Bottles next receive a cap from a CVC 1204 in-line spindle capper and then pass through a CVC 2000 induction sealer. Capped bottles are decorated using a CVC 300 pressure-sensitive wraparound labeler.
Lastly, a clear film sleeve is placed over each bottle by way of a CVC 1180FB full-body banding system.
The second line at All American is a liquid-filling line for homeopathic and ready-to-drink sports and nutrition beverages and concentrates. With changeparts, the line can currently run bottles sizes from 16 oz to 32 oz.
Bottles are fed manually onto the line, which starts with an eight-head piston filler, the servo-driven CVC 6036. Filling is followed by capping, done by a CVC 6034 pick-and-place chuck capper. Bottles then receive a pressure-sensitive wraparound label by way of a CVC 300 label applicator with SelfSet. The last step is the application of a clear film neck band, applied with the CVC 1108NB system. It includes a sleeve applicator and a heat tunnel from Marburg Technologies.
Archer says that not only have the new lines increased All American's packaging output tenfold, but they also have reduced the company's bottom line. "Labor costs on the newly, fully automated lines are pennies on the bottle," he says.