The term “nutraceuticals” refers to food products that provide health benefits in addition to the nutritional value of the foodstuffs used in their manufacture. The term “nutraceutical” as applied to a product is derived from two sources – “nutrient”, which is the nourishing food component of the product, and “pharmaceutical”, which refers to ingredients used for medicinal purposes. Thus, nutraceuticals both supplement the diet and assist in the treatment and prevention of disease.
Two main types of nutraceutical products exist: dietary supplements and functional foods. Nutraceutical dietary supplements include vitamins, minerals, enzymes, herbs, etc. Functional foods include foodstuffs enriched or fortified to provide additional benefit to consumers.
Conveyors for Nutraceuticals and Vitamins: Applications
Producers of nutraceutical products use conveyors in their facilities to transfer ingredients to blending and mixing, to move materials in-process, and to transfer finished product to the packaging line. Depending upon the ingredients used, nutraceuticals can be a regulated product in the USA and other jurisdictions. Conveying equipment used in the production process may therefore need to support compliance with any applicable regulations and standards.
Conveyors for Nutraceuticals and Vitamins: Challenges
Nutraceutical production is a cleanable service conveying application. Assuring product quality and consistency through all stages of production, while preventing cross-contamination, are key challenges. For this reason, conveyors for nutraceuticals and vitamins should be fully capable of supporting cleanable service applications.
Nutraceutical ingredients may consist of materials in powder or other forms. Depending upon the specific ingredient and material form, challenges in moving materials through a conveyor may arise. For example, some ingredient powders may be either free-flowing, or non-free-flowing with the material tending to cake or pack. Thus, where difficult-to-handle materials are being conveyed, flow aids may be required to ensure the ready movement of material through the conveyor.
Conveying finished product to packaging requires giving careful thought to preventing product degradation and damage. For example, nutraceuticals in tablet form will require gentle handling conveyors to prevent breakage or attrition of the tablets as they are moved onto the packaging line.
As noted above, because nutraceutical production may be regulated, any conveying equipment used should be capable of supporting compliance with applicable regulations. Key challenges in this area include preventing cross-contamination and achieving easy cleaning. Addressing these challenges will require using conveyors that use belting or other components made from FDA-approved materials, as well as having equipment designs and options that support fast disassembly, cleaning and turnaround.
Conveyors for Nutraceuticals and Vitamins: Equipment Solutions
UniTrak conveyors for nutraceutical applications use materials and components that are support cleanable service conveying in regulated environments. Stainless steel frames inhibit bacterial growth and prevent corrosion and rusting. Belting and buckets are made from FDA or USDA approved antimicrobial materials. Horizontal or joined surfaces are minimal. Fasteners have no exposed threads, use hex heads and, where possible, are located out of the product zone. Drive motors and lubricants are especially designed for food and pharma-grade applications. Equipment designs feature minimal edges and ledges to reduce the number of entrapment points and facilitate washdown and cleaning.
TipTrak™ bucket elevators. TipTrak™ bucket elevators offer industry-leading gentle handling and reliable performance. The fully interlocking buckets and rubber beltchain assure the gentlest ride possible through the conveyor with zero spillage.
The TipTrak™ TT250 bucket conveyor is a small conveyor that is ideal for lower-volume nutraceutical manufacturing lines. This gentle-handling conveyor is ideal for moving ingredient and in-process product, or transferring finished product onto the packaging line without breakage or damage.
For producers who require higher volumetric throughput rates, the TipTrak™ TT500 or S-2 models are excellent equipment choices. Like their smaller TT250 cousin, these conveyors are excellent equipment choices for conveying ingredient materials, moving in-process product, or feeding the final packaging line.
TipTrak™ conveyors can be readily customized to support the needs of nutraceutical manufacturers, as well as contract packers. To cater to the variety of material flowpaths often found in production facilities, TipTrak™ conveyors are available in a variety of equipment configurations. These consist of six configuration types, from Z-type configurations, through C-type, to inclined and inclined-horizontal.
To support cleanable service requirements, TipTrak™ conveyors are supplied in stainless steel constructions with the beltchain and interlocking bucket joint strips fabricated from FDA-approved materials. In addition, a Clean-In-Place (CIP) option is available that supports equipment washdown and sanitary service.
Powderflight aeromechanical conveyors. Powderflight aeromechanicals are excellent equipment choices for moving nutraceutical ingredients or in-process materials. Operating on the principle of a fluidized airstream, these conveyors are readily adaptable to most process configurations. Powderflight conveyors can be counted on to move nutraceutical ingredients quickly, accurately and with minimal dust. These conveyors are a perfect complement to the high-speed blending processes that are becoming increasingly adopted within production facilities.
UniFlex flexible screw conveyors. UniFlex conveyors are a proven equipment choice for intermittent or batch-type production environments. These conveyors can be used to feed powdered ingredients to the blending or mixing processes, UniFlex conveyors occupy a small footprint and can be quickly disassembled for easy cleaning and fast turnaround.
Belt conveyors. Cleated belt conveyors are often used for moving nutraceutical ingredients, or to transfer tablets, capsules, and the like to the packaging line. For nutraceutical production, UniTrak supplies cleated belt conveyors which feature stainless steel construction and FDA-compliant belting for sanitary performance. Conveyors can be supplied in dog-leg, cantilever, or inclined configurations. Floor-mounted or mobile models are also available.
At UniTrak, we have the know-how and the equipment to solve your nutraceutical conveying challenges. With over 45 years’ experience and a proven equipment lineup for cleanable service applications, we can fully support the needs of nutraceutical manufacturers. To find out more about the conveyors for nutraceuticals and vitamins which we offer, please contact our sales team directly.