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Full Service Fill Up
By: Jeff Falk
Posted: September 4, 2007
page 5 of 6“Customers’ business practices are changing and evolving,” said Bertolucci. “Customers are increasingly fitting into tighter spaces to accomplish the same amount of work output that was done in larger spaces just a few years ago. This philosophy of doing more with less overhead is becoming a common business practice. With this philosophy, customers are packaging more of a variety of products in smaller batch runs to accomplish just in time delivery with fewer pieces of machinery, so they do not have to maintain large on-hand inventories.”
Designing a Filling Line
To achieve more with less, companies require more compact, versatile machinery that will handle a variety of products while maintaining ease of operation. According to Bertolucci, today’s machinery has allowed small businesses with limited employees, mechanical expertise and resources to play a vital role in the industry and become competitive manufacturers.
“The large corporation with a highly staffed, experienced maintenance/service department is a thing of the past,” said Bertolucci. “More companies today are smaller upstarts where the budget is tight, manpower is limited, and the employees all wear many hats. The traditional operator or maintenance departments are not the norm for small businesses today. Most small companies are owner-operators, which means the owner is a chef or a chemist and does not necessarily have a technical background or department as his predecessor of the past. Today’s machinery needs to be simpler and more intuitive to operate because of the lack of on-hand mechanical support.”
“While there is always some trial and error, the design always begins with the final product,” said Hunt. “You must ask, ‘What do you want to make?’ Then we have to answer, ‘How many do you need to make? What about a growth factor?’ Then we look at how much space is required and what level of automation is needed. It is then critical to bring the right resources together to get it all done.”
Erdner notes that there has been a recent shift among high-end cosmetic manufacturers toward styles of operation that align their processes more closely to the pharmaceutical world. From a machinery perspective, this means building equipment to FDA standards and ensuring that machines are efficient and flexible for evolving marketplaces. At the same time, fillers need to remain versatile, compact, easy to operate, easy and quick to clean, adaptable to ever-changing products and containers with minimal cost, and, above all, reliable, with a high return on investment.
“Cost and quality will continue to remain key focus areas for marketing companies,” said Hunt. “Additionally, the focus on hygienic manufacturing will increase. This will require suppliers to have the best possible water systems, USP 29, very effective CIP systems for compounding tanks, hold tanks, process piping and the fillers. This is the basic equipment side.”