Wellington Foods Advances Dietary Wellness

Mettler-Toledo Safeline’s X37 X-ray system is ideal for nutraceuticals as well as pharmaceuticals, foods and other products packaged in metal, glass, plastic and paperboard. Image courtesy of Wellington Foods

Wellington Foods is inspired by the idea that proper nutrition is important for people of all ages. As a dietary supplement contract manufacturer with domestic and international distribution, they produce liquid dietary supplements including multivitamins, mineral products and joint health products, as well as powdered supplements like plant-based proteins. Founded in 1974, Wellington has grown to become a major industry player with more than 200,000 square feet of space across two state-of-the-art facilities in Corona, California.

“Dietary supplement manufacturing and packaging has a very high level of regulatory compliance – we have extremely strict criteria for product safety that’s driven by government agencies, third-party certifications, customer requirements and our own high standards,” said Tony Harnack, CEO of Wellington. “We decided to invest in a new world-class product inspection system and began researching the best one for our application.”

“Our process uses layers of protective measures to prevent the risk of foreign material and ensure product quality, so quality events are extremely rare. To ensure the highest safety, we wanted an X-ray system instead of a metal detector. We package products in both glass and plastic bottles, and metal detectors cannot inspect for non-metal foreign material such as glass. Plus, many of our packages include a foil seal, which metal detectors cannot inspect,” said Steve Nering, Vice President of Quality at Wellington. “From there, we considered the overall cost of the system, equipment reliability and the supplier’s customer service. I’ve personally worked with Mettler-Toledo Safeline for over 25 years. I know firsthand that they make great equipment.”

The Safeline X37 has a user-friendly interface, making change overs simple, and gives each operator a unique passcode with a specific level of access to prevent accidental setting changes. Image courtesy of Wellington Foods.

“During our equipment search, Mettler-Toledo was the only X-ray supplier we talked to who wasn’t afraid to inspect for glass foreign material inside of glass bottles. They were our first choice so we were very happy to partner with them,” said Juan Ortega, Project Manager at Wellington. “Our sales rep, Jonathon Vanderhorst of Pacific Packaging and Inspection, helped us select Mettler-Toledo’s advanced X37 X-ray system, which is able to detect foreign material down to virtually microscopic traces while also achieving product integrity checks such as confirming fill level and making sure caps are applied correctly.”

Wellington’s X37 X-ray is inspecting liquid dietary supplements in a variety of bottles, ranging in size from two ounces to one liter, that are made of either glass or plastic such as HDPE or PVC. The X37 was installed at the end of the packaging line over Wellington’s existing conveyor to minimize floorspace requirements.

“The X37 has excellent detection sensitivity. Whether it’s glass, metal or dense plastic… in the extremely rare chance there’s something out of place, this X-ray system will find it. Inspection equipment protects consumer safety – it isn’t optional for us,” said Nering. “We also use our X37 to monitor for cap skew and fill level. That’s a huge help, because liquid products will spill if not properly closed.”

Designed to be highly versatile, Mettler-Toledo Safeline’s X37 X-ray system is ideal for nutraceuticals as well as pharmaceuticals, foods and other products packaged in tall, rigid containers made of metal, glass, plastic, paperboard and more. To best fit each manufacturer’s specific inspection requirements, the X37 is available with a low-, medium- or high-powered generator as well as a choice of either a 0.4mm or 0.8mm detector. It’s capable of inspecting up to 1,200 packages per minute, depending on the application, while maintaining the highest accuracy.

“To be sure our X-ray system consistently operates at peak performance, we check it every 30 minutes during production with testing rods provided by Mettler-Toledo,” said Nering. “Our X37 is extremely accurate. Even at our high level of sensitivity, we’ve had zero false rejects.”

“Our X37 is also the easiest system to change over on this packaging line. Since it’s recipe based, we’ve programmed it to understand what a ‘good’ package looks like, and it will reject anything out of the ordinary,” said Ortega. “When we need to changeover, we simply switch to a new recipe on the touchscreen and then send a couple of bottles and testing rods through to verify the setup is correct. It’s very fast and requires no adjustments.”

Handling up to 200 bottles per minute, Wellington’s line throughput is well within the X37’s max capacity so Mettler-Toledo equipped it with a low-powered generator to improve energy efficiency and reduce operating costs. ‘Good’ products flow downstream to the cartoner and case packer, while any out-of-tolerance products are removed with a Mettler-Toledo pneumatic pusher reject device into a lockable bin that safely stores ejected packages until they can be removed by a worker, tested to identify the issue and ultimately destroyed.

“Since we’re handling liquid products, sanitation is especially important. There’s always the potential for spills and sticky surfaces,” said Chuck Sprague, Vice President of Operations at Wellington. “Our X37 is actually rated for IP65 and a full washdown environment, which is more than we currently need. We typically just wipe it down and it’s ready to go.”

“One of our favorite features of the X37 is the individual sign-in capability,” said Ortega. “This gives each worker a unique passcode with a specific level of access and makes the X-ray much more user-friendly – no one is overwhelmed with too many buttons and pages. Plus, it eliminates the chance that a worker might accidentally change a setting.”

“The X37 is a reliable, top-of-the-line X-ray system. Every year, when Mettler-Toledo comes out for our annual calibration, the technicians tell us that it looks just like the day it left the factory,” said Harnack. “Thanks to its high level of performance, this system gives us confidence that every product we’re sending to consumers is safe. Final product inspection with our X37 is absolutely non-negotiable for both compliance and our peace of mind.”

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