David Bellm

January 29, 2014

5 Min Read
Metal detectors protect pets
Chew bones

TFH Publications is the largest publisher of pet books in the world, but it’s the company’s Nylabone® products that have dogs most excited. The Nylabone family of products includes a variety of edible chews and treats and non-edible toys for dogs. TFH’s focus on producing premium Nylabone products that are safe and effective has contributed to the 500 percent growth the company has experienced over the past eight years. To help assure high final product quality, TFH relies on PowerPhasePLUS metal detectors from Mettler-Toledo Safeline.

“We searched the market to identify the best metal detectors for our applications. We considered the reputation of the supplier and their support, the reliability of the equipment and the ability of the system to meet our specific standards. We also considered cost,” notes Glen Axelrod, president and CEO of TFH Publications. “Safeline’s PowerPhasePLUS came out on top.”

TFH has installed nine Safeline metal detectors on nine packaging lines at their two Nylabone production facilities. The most recent was installed in July 2010. “The metal detectors are near the end of every packaging line just before packaged products are case packed This process assures our final products are all metal free,” Axelrod says.

To consistently achieve superior detection sensitivity, the PowerPhasePLUS metal detector features high frequency coil technology and advanced head geometry that detects all types of metal contamination from common ferrous and non-ferrous tramp metal to the most difficult to detect stainless steel fragments. To virtually eliminate false rejects, a “Faraday Screen” filters out signals from two-way radios and variable frequency drives that can interfere.

Cautious about safety
“Our metal detectors are more sensitive than we need but it’s good to err on the side of caution. Ultimately, the purpose is to catch anything. One piece of metal in a million packaged products is one too many. Thanks to the Safeline metal detectors, we’ve not had any problems with metal contamination,” says Axelrod. “We test the detectors periodically by running intentionally contaminated product through to be sure it’s caught. We’re very happy with the consistency of the operation.”

TFH has two Nylabone production facilities in Neptune City, NJ, that operate 24/7. In these two plants, they package product on nine lines: five blister seal packaging lines, two hf/f/s lines, one flow wrap line and one vf/f/s line. All lines can changeover to handle a variety of products and various sizes packages. It takes only 30 seconds to change over the PowerPhasePLUS metal detector. The operator can either pull down a pre-programmed product recipe on the system or auto-learn each product.

The metal detectors at TFH are password-protected so only those with authorized access can make changes. One level of access is available to operators, while deeper access is given to supervisors and engineers. By using this feature, TFH is sure that somebody who is trained at an operator level isn’t changing the sensitivity of the systems.

Detectors are critical
“With our 24/7 production schedule, the uptime of our metal detectors becomes critical because if a metal detector were to go down, we’d shut the line down because metal detection is a critical control point at TFH,” Axelrod explains. “I’m happy to say, we’ve not had any downtime or service issues with any of our Safeline metal detectors.”

The PowerPhasePLUS metal detector features dual frequency operation that achieves greater sensitivity across a broad 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.

The vf/f/s line handles the widest range of packages at TFH. This line, which features an Ishida scale (represented in the U.S. by Heat & Control) and an Ilapak Vegatronic 2000 forming and sealing machine, packs from 50 g to 2.5 kg of dog chews and treats into each pouch, depending on the product running. The metal detector is downstream of the vf/f/s machine to verify that metal has not gotten into the product either through contaminated raw materials or during the manufacturing and packaging process.

“In choosing the best metal detectors for our applications, our sales rep, Joe Young of Reliant Packaging, has been a great help to us,” says Axelrod.

Offers peace of mind
“The reliability and sensitivity of our metal detectors give me peace of mind that we are consistently achieving our high quality standards,” notes Axelrod. “As a business, we’re dedicated to safety and efficacy and quality in everything we make and everything we do. We don’t make compromises that could jeopardize safety, efficacy or quality.”

This focus has paid off. Today, Nylabone is a trusted brand that is carried by more than 38,000 retail establishments around the world.

Axelrod explains: “One trend affecting our industry is the humanization of our pets. With an aging population—with empty nesters—people are increasingly bringing their pets, especially dogs, into their lives and treating them like children. We’re seeing ‘pet parents’ who are very interested in taking care of their pets at a level they would care for their own children. Premium product quality is very important to this group.”

Pet food sales grow
This trend is most apparent among Americans, according to a recent global study by Euromonitor, which also suggests that strapped consumers, economizing on groceries and household items for themselves, continue to splurge on their pets. This world market currently is estimated to total about $62 billion, and is forecasted to grow by 2.5 percent this year, Euromonitor says.

While the market for premium pet products is growing, Nylabone is also gaining market share, and that growth is leading TFH to expand its production capacity. “We are currently adding another vf/f/s line, and we’re also adding a line that will package dog treats in foil pouches,” said Axelrod. TFH will install another PowerPhasePLUS metal detector on the new line, and they are looking to install an x-ray inspection system on the line packing products with foil pouches.

Axelrod remarks: “We’ve got a strong brand name in Nylabone, and we go to great lengths to protect it. The Safeline metal detectors are an important element of our overall quality assurance program. We are all about quality—it plays into the theme of our existence.”

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