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Herbal manufacturer gets a healthier process

March 08, 2004
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Herbal products are used by nearly half of the U.S. population. A pioneer in this field is Alpine Health Products, a herbal diet supplement manufacturer in Orem, Utah. Quality Assurance Manager Neil Call is always interested in improving the manufacturing processes at Alpine Health Products. After a year of watching issuers at the plant hand-write labels, Call sought an easier way.
Aside from the inefficiency of manually transcribing data, accuracy was an area of concern. In order to optimize efficiency, he knew it was important to find a solution to streamline their process. Call needed a product that could link both a floor scale and a bench scale, and send the information to a printer and a computer. In the spring of 2002, quotes came in for systems ranging from $5,000 to $30,000. The quote that caught his attention centered on Rice Lake Weighing Systems'' 920i indicator, a quote he eventually accepted.
"First, we felt it did exactly what we wanted. Secondly, it did it for half the cost of other scale systems," he said. "At the time, the 920i was new. We took a chance and it has worked out really well."
By refining their processes, production totals have reached as high as one million bottles per month.

Looking back
In their original process, the employees would hand-write product information for tracking when weighing and labeling powder ingredients. This would add up to approximately 130 tags during an 8-hour shift. The tags would include work order number, quantity, date, raw material name, number, description and lot number. This is an important step in Alpine Health Products'' commitment to testing 100 percent of incoming and outgoing ingredients and products.

An instant return on investment
Making the transition from a handwritten process to an automated system can be challenging, but Call
said he "liked it instantly." Aside from increased processing speed and less tedious handwriting for the issuers, accuracy was the ultimate benefit.

Room to grown
The 920i links programmable user interfaces, flexibility and processing performance with the simplicity of a weight indicator. Alpine Health Products was able to link their scales with the 920i, send data to a printer and achieve real-time communication with their network. The 920i seamlessly integrated with their current process and streamlined their application. The 920i is easy to customize, therefore, Alpine Health Products'' software was designed at a fraction of
the cost of traditional process instrumentation. Even though they currently have two scales integrated
with the 920i, its ability to manage up to 28 scales allows for future expansion. Additionally, the large
screen can show live bar graphs to illustrate batching or system status.

A user-friendly solution
Programmable indicators and controllers can run complicated programs, and operating them can sometimes be equally difficult. The staff at Alpine Health Products finds the 920i simple to operate. The 920i prints labels identifying the weight and specifics of the bulk powders. The issuer only needs to enter the lot number and product number into the computer, place the product on the scale and the 920i captures the weight. The 920i also communicates to the printer to produce two labels. One label accompanies the product and one is for internal documentation. Through the 920i, the product information including weight, description, and lot number is now easily stored in their computer database. Verifying the weight and labeling the bulk product before it is mixed is a crucial step to Alpine Health Products'' commitment to accuracy.

For more information on the 920i, contact Rice Lake Weighing Systems at 800-472-6703 or e-mail prodinfo@rlws.com
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