FINE FOODS -
To deal with the international market, especially during an economic crisis, we need rigor, knowledge, passion, cutting-edge technology and reliable partners. For these reasons Fine Foods, one of the major contract manufacturers for pharmaceuticals and food supplements in Europe, has been working for over twenty years in partnership with the Marchesini Group, a relationship that has led to many successful projects for the packaging of blister, sachet, strip, tube, vial and, recently, stickpack products. Just a few weeks ago, the latest line produced by Marchesini Group and purchased by Fine Foods has been successfully tested: the line will work nutraceuticals in the form of soluble stickpack, a packaging typology increasingly in demand by the market. A strategic project for Fine Foods deserving further investigation.
The Marchesini stickpack line
The stickpack line, purchased last year by Fine Foods, is composed of the MSP560 machine connected to the cartoner MA50 through an innovative synchro-dynamic connecting unit, represents an important challenge for Fine Foods. "The market - the plant director Daniele Sala pointed out - requires more and more stickpack for two main reasons. First of all, it is a type of packaging very easy to use for the administration of all soluble solutions, that is, they do not require water. Indeed, you can bring the product with you and easily take it at any time of the day with a simple gesture. The packaging appeal is therefore an important feature from a marketing point of view, whereas the second reason is more economic: the stickpack packaging, compared to the traditional sachet, allows for material-saving".
The line, which works at a speed of 500 stickpacks per minute (cartons contain 6 to 30 stickpacks each), has already been used to pack the first product, the Imutis Stick by the Canadian Lallemand that produces yeasts and bacteria. "By the end of July - Sala continued - four new products will be packaged by this line: the free flowing products for the nutraceutical Omega Pharma and GSK."
Why did you choose Marchesini for this strategic line?
"The technology required to treat these products - Sala said - is rather complex, so you need a very reliable and present partner. Marchesini Group has always ensured high technology to and a great collaboration with our development and technical departments: for us, it is very important to listen to each other and to keep the dialogue about all aspects of the project ongoing. In addition, what made us choose this type of line, totally new for us, was the new connecting unit between the two machines suggested by Marchesini, and we fell in love with it from the beginning”.
THE SYNCHRODYNAMIC STICKPACK GROUP: REASONS FOR SUCCESS
"Ergonomic, accessible and equipped with a unique synchro-dynamic connection with the cartoner." Thus Daniele Sala, the Fine Foods plant director, explained the reason why the company chose the MA50 + MSP560 line.
But why is this new group so innovative?
One of the most critical aspects of powder lines is the passage of the sachets/sticks from the sachet machine to the cartoner: in most of the existing machines on the market, the stickpacks fall in bulk and, subsequently, are collected in various ways to be conveyed to the cartoner product chain.
On the MSP560 machine, instead, stickpacks are never left “free”, they are transferred by means of a robotized pick & place using vacuum cups placed at a fixed pitch. Each vacuum cup picks up a single stickpack and deposits it directly into the buckets chain. In this way there is a full control over the product and a secure count, because the stickpacks are never abandoned.
The synchronized bucket chain is integrated into the cartoner. Once the pre-set counting has been executed, the chain carries the stickpacks directly to the cartoner pushers. From here, the pushers introduce the stickpacks into the carton without any translation on the parallel chains, as traditionally happens: this is a considerable advantage both for the treatment of the stickpacks and for the line speed.
Furthermore, the buckets work in a dual function mode, stable during the product transfer from the upstream machine and in continuous motion when leading the product to the carton infeed station. This is enabled thanks to the whole system made of two separate sets of buckets positioned on two separate driven belts independently motorized. The transfer group is therefore synchrodynamic, alternating thus intermittent and continuous motion: intermittent during the buckets filling on the front side of the machine; continuous during the transfer of the same buckets towards the cartoner pushers, and intermittent again during the introduction into the carton.
The line confirms itself as an optimal solution by granting maximum ergonomics and accessibility: compared to the machines already on the market, the MSP560, in addition to being compact, is fully accessible on the front side, an aspect which allows the operator direct access without obstacles.
The pick and place system, the positive stickpack stacking and the synchrodynamic connection to the cartoner are all Marchesini patented solutions, coming from an almost 40-year-old technological know-how in the packaging industry and all 'made in Italy'.
Fine Foods yesterday and today: a constant growth
The history and the figures of Fine Foods show a reality that is today a real reference for the contract manufacturing development, production and packaging of nutraceuticals, pharmaceuticals and medical devices.
Founded in 1985 in Brembate (Bergamo) as a laboratory for the study of fluid bed granulation technology and its applications for the pharmaceutical and nutraceutical industry, Fine Foods & Pharmaceuticals N.T.M. very soon started to produce excipients and semi-finished products. In 1989 the "full time" activity as a contract manufacturer for oral solid forms dedicated to pharmaceutical and nutraceutical markets was started. Later, new facilities for pharmaceuticals at Brembate (1991) and for nutraceuticals at Zingonia-Verdellino (1997), were opened. Over the years the equipment and the engineering of the plants followed, and was adapted to market requirements, strengthening in all solid oral forms (powder, granules, film-coated or plain tablets, hard-gel capsules) and virtually in every kind of packaging: sachets, bags, bottles, blisters, jars, tubes and strips. To complete the pharmaceutical services, in early 2008 another production plant was acquired in Nembro (Bergamo), for toll-manufacturing production of tablets, film- and sugar-coated tablets as well as hard-gelatine capsules. Last but not least, Fine Foods & Pharmaceuticals N.T.M. installed lines for the filling and packaging of single-dose bottles for liquids, with or without cap for powders. The main technology at Fine Foods & Pharmaceuticals N.T.M. is the fluid bed granulation, by which instant soluble powders and effervescent forms are produced (granules, tablets). Today Fine Foods & Pharmaceuticals N.T.M. is the biggest independent Italian contract manufacturer for nutraceuticals and an important player in the pharmaceutical market, with more than 350 employees, more than 150 customers- including, DOC Generici, Mylan, Menarini, Chiesi, Sigma Tau, Sanofi, Acraf Angelini, Italfarmaco - and a global turnover in excess of € 78 million in 2012. The three facilities in Brembate, Nembro and Zingonia - covering more than 40 thousand square meters - produce more than 400 products typologies sold in 50 countries all over the world.
The Research & Development department, that has a strong know-how in the dietary field, has a strategic function since more than half of the dietary products are developed internally. "We are a company - said the CEO of Fine Foods, Marco Eigenmann - which develops and manufactures pharmaceutical and dietary products on behalf of other manufacturers. We are pure contractors by choice and conviction. A perfect mix of rigor and flexibility that allows us to manage 3 plants highly specialized in the production of food supplements and drugs in all solid oral forms”. The keywords: passion and rigor for a team of specialists. "We like to describe the Fine Foods world - Mark Eigenmann added - with two words “No Surprise”: in other words, we guarantee maximum reliability, therefore peace of mind for our customers and safety for their products”.
The twenty-year relationship with Marchesini Group: sachet, blister and strip machines
The longtime relationship between Fine Foods and Marchesini Group gave birth, in the last twenty years, to important and successful projects. The first Marchesini line purchased by the company - a line for sachets – dates back to 1991. "Fine Foods - Sala said - has begun to focus its attention on the packaging in the early nineties. Since then, the Marchesini sachet machines have been chosen as the ideal solution to pack powders and miscellaneous able to guarantee high production performances”. “We have ten Marchesini sachet machines - Sala continued - from the old model RC600 to the new one MS235. Conceptually, the machine has been the same over the years, keeping the same philosophy but renewing the technology. The strong point is the extremely precise dosage". "To meet deadlines, respect our customers’ production needs and ensure the maximum product reliability –Sala pointed out - you need to choose reliable technological and, at the same time, cutting-edge solutions. Then the choice of Marchesini machines". In addition to the sachet machines, Fine Foods also has 4 Marchesini blister lines. "We are pleased with these lines - Sala said - and the winning choice of the MB421 blister machine with the cartoner MA155 was synonym of high reliability. In addition, we have relevant performances also from Integra, the robotized blister line recently purchased that is meeting our expectations: compact and suitable to pack our products, it provides a simple format change and maximum ergonomics".
Among the other Marchesini machines at Fine Foods: a machine for packaging effervescent tablets in tubes, two counting machines, a line for the packaging of liquid single dose vials and a strip machine MST200mini. But that is not all. "Since about a year ago, in a close cooperation with the Technical Department of Marchesini Group - Sala added - we have been studying the creation of a line for sachets of wider dimensions able to actually work “stand-alone”. On the one hand, Fine Foods continues to renew its machine portfolio; on the other hand, it knows it can trust Marchesini Group excellent technologies, maximum reliability, competence and collaboration”. In other words: an over twenty-year-old solid and successful partnership links up Marchesini to Fine Foods Group, once again ready to face new challenges.