An enduring, strong relationship links Europe’s biggest contract manufacturer of dietetic and pharmaceutical products, FINE FOODS NTM SpA, and the leading international manufacturer of pharmaceutical packaging machinery, Marchesini Group. But before taking a closer look at this solid co-operation, we get to know more about Fine Foods, with the help of Managing Director Marco Eigenmann.
Fine Foods NTM SpA is Europe’s largest independent contract manufacturer of dietary supplements and a leading producer of pharmaceutical products. Founded in 1985 in Brembate (Bergamo province) as a laboratory for the study of fluid bed granulation technology for the dietetic and pharmaceutical industry, the company now has more than 180 employees, 100-plus customers including Sanofi-Aventis, Dompè, EG-Eurogenerici, Menarini, Giuliani, Italfarmaco, A.C.R.A.F., Alfa Wasserman and Wyeth and annual sales topping 40 million euros.
Since 1989 the company has operated at the Zingonia-Verdellino (Bergamo province) plant as a contract manufacturer for the development, production and packaging of products destined for the dietetic industry and, since 1991, for the pharmaceutical industry at the Brembate plant. “We are pure contract manufacturers by choice and on principle, not out of necessity – explained Marco Eigenmann, Fine Foods NTM Managing Director – and we have decided not to tie ourselves to any brand, but to remain independent”. Over the years Fine Foods has built up production in all areas: oral solids - powders, pellets, capsules, tablets with and without film coating, effervescent tablets and powders – liquids and practically all types of packaging: sachets, bags, pill bottles, jars, blister packs, strips, tubes and single-dose vials for liquids. Today the two plants produce more than 300 different pharmaceutical and dietetic products, sold in over 40 countries.
The relationship with Marchesini Group Fine Foods is a growing company which, particularly in recent years, has had to innovate and rationalise production by purchasing new machinery and restyling older equipment. “We started out with all used machines – said Eigenmann – but by the end of the ‘90s we began investing heavily in technology. We approached Marchesini Group, initially a little in awe at the size of the Pianoro-based group, considering our requirements. But we had a pleasant surprise: we found a great deal of entrepreneurial spirit in the management, widespread professionalism at all levels and an indispensable flexibility in the approach to our needs as a contract manufacturer”. The lasting, solid relationship between Fine Foods and Marchesini Group is demonstrated by the fact that Lombardy’s Fine Foods has ten packaging lines made up of Marchesini Group machines, out of a total of 22 lines. “Recently – emphasised Eigenmann – we have been setting aside around 5 million euros a year for investments, of which we use one million on machines made by Marchesini Group”. The company’s machines currently include nine cartoners (BA50 – BA100 – MA50 – MA155), a line for producing and packaging single-dose vials for liquids (ML662) with and without powder dosing cap, a blister thermoformer (MB421) and a machine for packaging effervescent tablets in tubes (T400). More recent purchases include the MST200mini strip machine. Marchesini sachet filling machines, market winners Marchesini sachet filling machines deserve separate mention. According to the Fine Foods MD they are unique on the market. “We have eight Marchesini sachet filling machines – said Eigenmann – some are RC600, others the new model MS235. The idea behind the machine remains unchanged, over the years keeping the same philosophy but updating the technology. The strong point is the extremely precise dosing”.
A machine which deserves a closer look because of its main technological features. The new model MS235 has a highly innovative Marchesini Group-patented dosing unit, which uses independent screw feeders to handle powders which do not flow. To guarantee the perfect dose in every sachet, each dosing screw feeder is fitted with a motor-driven secondary pre-screw feeder which feeds the product in a precise, constant way in each dosing channel. The independent brushless motor which drives the secondary screw feeders unit guarantees impeccable operation, not forgetting that, thanks to this new system, there is no need for mixers around the dosing unit. Other features also contribute to the great flexibility of the MS235: when the length of the sachet changes, a parameter on the display can simply be edited; thanks to its many brushless motors, the machine automatically retimes the horizontal cutter blade to the new length, making the size change-over extremely fast. For ease of use the dosing device can be removed automatically at the end of production. Finally, for a size change-over a simple motor-driven control allows the unit to be rotated outwards.