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LNK banks on metal detection units

Metal detection units on more than two dozen blister and bottling lines help LNK ensure quality OTC pharmaceuticals for its private-label customers.

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The pharmaceutical industry is being squeezed by a combination of cost containment pressures, patent expirations, and a more muscular regulatory environment, to name a few of the challenges. And as recent headlines have shown, even the most respected pharmaceutical companies have withdrawn over-the-counter (OTC) medications in part due to packaging and labeling-related issues. With that in mind, it's no wonder that quality is a critical concern for Hauppauge, NY-based LNK International, Inc.

LNK produces private-label, solid-dose OTC pharmaceuticals for retailers and distributors throughout North America, providing and packaging national brand-equivalent products as well as proprietary formulas. LNK manufactures, packages, tests, and ships products for their customers, from the acquisition of raw materials through finished product distribution in the U.S. and Canada.

โ€œWe offer more than 100 national brand-equivalent formulas in the pain relief, cough and cold, and gastrointestinal categories,โ€ explains Ray McCusker, executive vp of production. โ€œWe manufacture, package, and test with strict adherence to U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulations. Our production processes are documented and validated, with all procedures, methodologies, and products audited and reviewed by third-party and independent laboratories.โ€

To help ensure the quality of its OTC products, LNK employs Phantom metal detectors from Fortress Technology on its packaging lines. โ€œLNK began with a single Fortress metal detector in 2005 and today all of our more than two dozen packaging lines have the Fortress units installed,โ€ confirms Mitch Cierzniewski, engineering manager. These include both blister and bottling lines used to package multiple products in various sizes and configurations.

Cierzniewski points out, โ€œLNK's commitment to quality drove the decision to install metal detectors on all of its packaging lines.โ€

Before investing in a specific supplier's equipment, LNK tested three different metal detectors, including the Fortress machinery. โ€œThe Fortress equipment was the most accurate, it was the easiest to changeover and calibrate, and it was competitively priced,โ€ relates Cierzniewski. โ€œAlso, the Fortress had the shortest time needed for workers to become trained on the system.โ€

The Phantom pharmaceutical metal detector uses digital signal processing technology to detect and reject ferrous and nonferrous metals, including stainless steel. The detectors are made with mirrored stainless-steel casing to withstand cleaning and to prevent any possible cross-contamination. All contact parts are removable without tools.

As LNK employs high-speed equipment in most of its packaging applications, it was pleased with Fortress equipment's ability to be validated at a production rate greater than 200 bottles/min, all while checking for particulates 1 to 1.5 mm. In fact, the experience has been better than the specified criteria, the company says.

Cierzniewski says that now metal detection has become the industry standard and is expected by LNK's customers. โ€œAs a result of having the Fortress on all of our packaging lines, we're confident that all of the product shipping from our docks is of the highest quality,โ€ he says.

In the future, adds McCusker, โ€œas LNK expands its business and packaging capacity, Fortress Phantom Metal detectors will continue to be installed on the new packaging lines.โ€ That's part of a strategy that LNK expects will help it thrive no matter what industry challenges arise.

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