Counting Line for Supplement Capsules

The Hut Group is the UK’s leading multi-website retailer owning 15 websites, each of which receives thousands of orders each day from around the world. The group sells a large variety of products from sports nutrition supplements and vitamins to beauty products and clothing. The first Hut Group website was launched back in 2004, and since then the Group has won a series of awards including the Sunday Times Profit Track 100.

That winning position was an impressive milestone for The Hut Group, as well as inspiring former prime minister David Cameron to visit the Group’s Headquarters. The Group is split into 3 core divisions: Lifestyle; Prestige and Consumer. Myprotein belongs to the Lifestyle division and is the largest website The Hut owns.  

What is Myprotein?

The Hut acquired the Myprotein website in 2011; the brand has gone on to grow at a phenomenal pace over the last years, now making it Europe’s Number 1 Sports Nutrition Brand. Myprotein has a fresh and innovative approach to sports nutrition. They know from first-hand experience that nutrition isn’t a case of one size fits all, so they offer the widest range of sports nutrition products on the market. The growing MP community includes everyone from beginners to elite athletes, body-builders to footballers, those who want to put on muscle mass to those who want to lose weight.  

Myprotein brand ambassadors include world-class athletes, such as the World’s Strongest Man finalist - Terry Hollands, Pro Natural Bodybuilder - Simeon Panda and IFBB Professional - Nina Ross to name but a few. These ambassadors are dedicated to Myprotein and work closely with Myprotein to drive brand awareness and loyalty across the globe.  

A Winning Combination

Providing the highest quality products at the lowest possible prices, as well as an expansive and forward thinking range are just a few factors that set Myprotein apart from the competition. With Myprotein’s market leading website, around the clock nutritional advice and efficient delivery systems they have kept the consumer at the centre of everything they do, resulting in un-matched customer experience.

Internationalisation has also played a big part in Myprotein’s growth, with 50% of shipments sent outside the UK, and over 50 different local language websites servicing new destinations. All of this has culminated in some impressive results for Myprotein, including a £99 million turnover in 2014 and a £150 million forecast for 2015. 

The Omega project: 2.000 job opportunities

Last January, the Group announced an investment of £100 million to construct a new warehouse in Warrington to be added to the current four warehouses. It will be used as both a production centre for the products created in-house and a distribution centre for products purchased externally and then sold online. This investment will take place over the next three years creating 2.000 job opportunities and will help to facilitate the growth in forecasted sales, which will reach 13 million shipments per year, dispatched to over 190 countries worldwide. 

Technical focus

To face up to an increasing demand for the Myprotein pill range, The Hut asked the Marchesini Group to make a line to count pills, capsules and tablets that would set them apart from their rivals. The decision was made to use a production line made up of the FTC 12 counting machine, ML 55 capping machine and the SL 200 labelling machine: a compact and fast solution capable of counting, filling, capping and labelling over 3 thousand containers per hour and of managing different types of pills and press-on/screw caps.

The line that The Hut purchased is also incredibly versatile, especially for those who need an efficient and handy machine for counting, capping and labelling a large number of containers. In other words, it is a solution whose features perfectly fit the winning spirit of the English company.

The first machine of the line is the FTC 12 electronic counting machine, equipped with twelve independent and integrated counting channels, which are used in the case in hand to count gel capsules, but which are also suitable for other products, such as hard capsules and a pills, without the need to change any size parts for new products.

The machine has a dust extractor and an open and inspectionable conveyor belt, while the opening of the hopper and the height of the counting head are adjusted electronically via special servo systems to adapt them to the type of product and the height of the containers. Each single “critical” function with regards to counting is monitored continuously so that any feasible anomaly is pointed out immediately and cannot consequently cause any problems to the actual count.

Furthermore, the “heart” of the machine, that is, the sensor unit, is the fruit of an exhaustive and attentive research and development project, which has led to the creation of a system capable of carrying out a number of set-up and diagnostic operations. These diagnostics include the ability to differentiate fragments and transparent products in a totally self-sufficient manner.

The FTC 12 can count up to 360 thousand pills an hour and can “adapt” itself to a virtually endless number of programs entered by the operator.

The containers reach the automatic capping machine ML 55 with alternating motion; they are transported by means of an 8-slot carousel equipped with a mechanical safety clutch. The capping operation, with the application of a screw cap on the container is carried out by a brushless motor. The containers travel along two conveyor belts; one on the machine inlet and one on the outlet, complete with adjustable guides and variable speeds.

The ML 55 is not only compact, allowing it to be installed in small spaces, but it is also designed in full compliance with the latest GMP standards. It offers full access to the work zone and straightforward and stress-free cleaning.

The last machine of the line is the labelling machine SL 200 produced by Neri; it completes the packaging process of the softgel in containers by applying self-adhesive labels around the container itself. This machine, which includes a control camera, made by the Italian producer of customised vision systems for the pharmaceutical industry SEA Vision, allows the operator to ensure the labels are applied efficiently and precisely (the operator can program 24 different label sizes) and also check the speed of the working phases.

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