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Watson-Marlow peristaltic pump replaces bottle filler at aromatherapy oil application

HealthAid, one of the UK’s premier manufacturers and distributors of nutritionally balanced supplements, has replaced its ageing and increasingly unreliable filling machine with a Flexicon PF6 tabletop aseptic liquid filler from Watson-Marlow Fluid Technology (WMFT).

The investment has not only increased machine uptime, but boosted dispensing accuracy, a vital consideration when processing expensive aromatherapy oils.

Aromatherapy oils are a major component of HealthAid’s product offer, comprising over 50 different lines in pure essential oils, base oils, massage oils, and bath oils.

However, until recently, the bottles were filled using an ageing liquid filling machine that was increasingly prone to breakdowns.

To exacerbate the situation, the machine was no longer supported, meaning spares were difficult to obtain.

‘Although the machine had given a long service life, it was clear that the time had arrived to invest in a replacement,’ says Anant Patel, HealthAid’s general manager.

HealthAid fills its aromatherapy oils into 2mL, 5mL, 10mL, and 30mL bottles, along with any special sizes requested by customers.

Batches are typically small, with each product line scheduled for filling around every two months.

However, due to the presence of around 50 different product types, the machine works continuously every day.

Accuracy of dispensing is vital as aromatherapy oils are a costly commodity.

The new Flexicon filler ensures rapid changeover between batches with minimum product loss.

‘The speed of the machine is good and productivity is clearly important, but it’s not the top factor,’ says Patel.

‘Precision of dispensing is the leading consideration due to the cost of aromatherapy oils. Any under-fill and the customer will feel short-changed, and we do not want our reputation to be tarnished.’

The PF6 tabletop aseptic liquid filler provides HealthAid with both accuracy (±0.5%) and repeatability.

The peristaltic filling principle delivers precise filling, zero cross contamination, and ease of cleaning.

Contamination between aromatherapy oils is avoided by changing the Accusil platinum-cured silicone tubing, also by WMFT, for each oil. 

Installed in February 2015, the Flexicon PF6 resides in the company’s dedicated oil filling room, where it operates as a stand-alone asset with two people are trained to use the fully programmable machine.

The PF6 has a volume range from 0.2mL to more than 250 mL, while the quick change pump head can work with seven different tube sizes. 

“We are very happy with the Flexicon PF6. In the six months it has been here, it hasn’t missed a beat and has increased our uptime and productivity, as well as accuracy,” concludes Patel.