July 16, 2015 – Amway, the world’s largest direct selling business, is often called the original social network. In this environment, success is driven by the power of relationships and a strong sense of responsibility prevails, including a commitment to maintain the highest product quality. This led Amway to turn to Mettler-Toledo’s Product Inspection Group and establish a collaborative problem-solving relationship. Amway has now installed six Safeline x-ray inspection systems and eight Hi-Speed checkweighers at their state-of-the-art food manufacturing facility that produces Nutrilite® nutritional powered products such as the top-selling All Plant Protein Powder.
“Mettler-Toledo is not just providing us with x-ray systems and checkweighers. They share their expertise as development partners. Thanks to a highly collaborative effort between our talented team and theirs, we’re implementing the industry’s best practices and demonstrating our leadership,” said Scot Morrell, global engineer at Amway. “Our manufacturing systems meet stringent quality and performance standards to safeguard the trust that Amway Business Owners and their customers have in Nutrilite® products. Metter-Toledo performs at a level that has earned our confidence.”
When Amway started up the manufacturing facility in 2012, they had five Hi-Speed checkweighers and one Safeline SideChek x-ray system in the facility. At that time, Safeline metal detectors and other checkweighers were on their two stick pack lines and three pouch lines. “The success of that first Safeline x-ray system drove our decision to buy more,” said Brooke Ondersma, quality assurance engineer at Amway.
In 2014, Amway installed five PowerChek x-ray systems and three XE3 checkweighers. Now, they have eight Hi-Speed checkweighers and six Safeline x-ray systems on their six packaging lines at the Nutrilite® facility in Ada, Michigan USA. These systems inspect canisters, bulk stick packs and cartons of stick packs and pouches. “Our stick packs and pouches are made of foil, so x-ray inspection after packaging on every line helps ensure final product quality,” said Josh Soyka, technician for nutrition manufacturing at Amway.
Safeline’s PowerChek x-ray system offers the highest level detection sensitivity. It uses a vertical single beam, an electronically controlled x-ray generator and proprietary data and image analysis software to identify objects that are a different density than the product it’s inspecting. If contamination is ever detected, the system automatically ejects the product from the production line into a reject bin. “We test the x-ray systems’ detection sensitivity at regular intervals,” said Soyka. “Every x-ray system rejects the test strips perfectly every time, which contributes to our high confidence.”
“One unique thing about the x-ray systems on our stick pack lines is that they have two types of reject devices. When we’re inspecting cartons, we use a blow-off reject system. When we’re running bulk stick packs, they can be clumped together, so we use a retractable reject conveyor,” noted Soyka.
The Hi-Speed XE3 checkweigher is a premium solution, which uses electromagnetic force restoration (EMFR) weigh cells instead of more common strain gauge load cells to provide superior accuracy of +/- 0.5 to 1 gram. It automatically rejects packages that are over- and underweight so customers get what they expect.
“Our new x-ray systems and checkweighers have similar user interfaces as our previous inspection systems. That eased our transition and simplifies our training,” said Michelle Swartz, plant manager at Amway. “Our operators find the controls on these machines to be very intuitive.”
At this particular Nutrilite® facility, Amway manufactures 54 different formulas that supply 30 countries, creating 240 unique SKUs. Running 24 hours a day, six days a week, one packaging line fills 450-gram canisters, two lines create stick packs from 130 to 180 mm and three lines produce pouches from 23 to 109 grams. One of the stick pack lines and one pouch line can change over as often as 10 times a day, while the other four lines are more dedicated.
“The x-ray systems and checkweighers are the easiest machines on our lines to change over. Four taps on the touchscreen and the new product is selected. If the package size also changes, we can adjust the guide rails in less than one minute,” said Soyka.
“We’ve been pleased with every aspect of this project including upfront and after sales support,” noted Morrell. “We installed the equipment ourselves to have the most scheduling flexibility, and even that was easy. This can be a challenging environment with powders that can be abrasive to equipment, yet the Safeline x-ray systems and Hi-Speed checkweighers have been very reliable.”
“We take our product quality and consistency very seriously so our goal of no customer complaints is the ultimate measure of success,” concluded Swartz. “We also work hard to drive out quality and performance losses by eliminating downtime, bottlenecks and false rejects. Our inspection equipment from Mettler-Toledo contributes to our success in every way.”
About Mettler-Toledo Hi-Speed and Mettler-Toledo Safeline
As the world's largest supplier of checkweighers, metal detectors and x-ray inspection systems, Mettler-Toledo Hi-Speed and Mettler-Toledo Safeline are the product inspection experts for the food, beverage and pharmaceutical industries. Hi-Speed checkweighers ensure regulatory compliance, increase productivity and enhance operational excellence. Safeline metal detectors and x-ray inspection systems detect solid contaminants and ensure product quality, portion control and package integrity for ultimate brand protection. Our innovative products are backed by 24/7 technical support.