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‘Gold Standard’ Machinery Fits for Phoenix Formulations

Nutritional product contract manufacturer ensures quality and purity with inspection equipment on multiple packaging lines at its new Tempe production facility.

The PowerPhasePRO metal detector features high frequency coil technology and advanced head geometry to find all types of metal contamination.
The PowerPhasePRO metal detector features high frequency coil technology and advanced head geometry to find all types of metal contamination.

Phoenix Formulations launched in 2015, focused on setting new standards for quality and purity. To achieve those goals, it coupled a new state-of-the-art production facility with a seasoned team with nearly 200 years of combined experience in nutritional manufacturing.

The Tempe, Ariz. company applies industry best practices and cutting-edge innovation. As part of these efforts, Phoenix turned to Mettler-Toledo Product Inspection Group, selecting four Safeline metal detectors, three Safeline x-ray systems and five Hi-Speed checkweighers for their eight packaging lines.

“We looked at multiple suppliers for inspection equipment and considered detection sensitivity, as well as price and service. I’ve been doing this for 20 years – Mettler-Toledo is truly the gold standard. Their systems are reliable and consistent,” says Kirk Neal, President of Phoenix. “Our customers recognize the Mettler-Toledo name and relate it with superior technology. As a contract manufacturer of private-label nutraceuticals, that association is very valuable.”

Phoenix develops custom-formula powders, capsules and tablets. Protein powders, energy drink mixes, meal replacements, supplements and other products are packaged in jars, gusseted bags, composite cans, single-serve pouches, stick packs and bulk containers at their 75,000 sq-ft facility in Arizona.

On four packaging lines, PowerPhasePRO metal detectors are installed to help ensure final product quality and safety. High frequency coil technology and advanced head geometry zero in on all types of metal contamination, from ferrous and non-ferrous tramp metal to the most difficult-to-detect stainless steel fragments.

PowerPhasePRO features triple frequency operation, which achieves high sensitivity across a range of products by automatically accommodating variations. Another feature—product clustering—allows a family of products to be run with no operator intervention during changeovers without sacrificing sensitivity. To virtually eliminate false rejects, a “Faraday Screen,” located between the detector coil system and the product being inspected, filters out signals that can interfere with the operation.

“Our Safeline metal detectors offer high detection sensitivity at the same time they ease use and give us the production flexibility that we need,” says Chad Hill, Maintenance Director. “We have no problem with false rejects while we’re maintaining our high performance standards.”

On the three lines that fill packages containing foil, where metal detectors would be ineffective, Phoenix relies on X33 x-ray inspection systems. In addition to detecting metal contamination inside foil packages, the x-ray systems are capable of finding all dense foreign bodies and performing gross mass measurement.

The X33 is Mettler-Toledo’s next generation x-ray inspection system that replaces their popular SmartChek and AdvanChek x-ray machines. Like these earlier models, it offers outstanding detection sensitivity. However, the X33 features a 20-watt x-ray generator, instead of the 100-watt generator used on previous systems, which dramatically reduces power consumption to minimize the cost of ownership. The redesigned styling improves sanitation and ergonomics while the new graphical user interface eases use.

“These x-ray systems reliably detect the small metal sizes we are looking for. We know this because we run test strips through our machines several times a day. The reduced energy cost is a nice bonus,” explains Hill. “These are great looking machines that make a strong impression when customers walk through our plant.”

XE3 checkweighers, which automatically reject under- and over-weight packages, are used at Phoenix to monitor fill levels on the gusseted bag line and verify the correct count of multipacks on other packaging lines. The high performance XE3 uses electromagnetic force restoration (EMFR) weigh cells instead of more common strain gauge load cells to achieve an accuracy of +/- 200 mg.

“These checkweighers are really accurate and simple to operate. The user interface has a large color touchscreen and a dashboard layout that reduces training requirements and helps improve line performance,” says Hill. “We started with one XE3 and were so happy with it that we bought four more.”

“We’ve had great experiences with Mettler-Toledo. Their customer service is very responsive and our sales rep, Michael Vaughn at Southwest Equipment Group, has added value at every step,” notes Hill. “We measure the success of our inspection equipment based on its consistent detection sensitivity, uptime and ease of use.”

“At the end of the day, what matters most is the response we get from our customers on the quality of our products. Many nutraceutical companies use several manufacturers, so it’s crucial that we maintain a superior track record. Our outstanding equipment has helped push us to the top of our customers’ lists,” says Neal. “These inspection systems reinforce our commitment to producing the highest quality product.”

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