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Interview with Dr. Francesco Maria Cappucci, the owner of FMC, which has chosen IMA Active technologies for its new plant in Ferentino, Italy.

Much more than nutraceuticals

Dr. Francesco Maria Cappucci, a pharmacist with a passion for galenical preparations, founded FMC in 2000. His company is now a leading contract manufacturer of food supplements in tablets, capsules, powders and effervescent granules, packageable in blisters, pill bottles, pouches and cartons. A 30-strong team of highly qualified technologists guarantees comprehensive support for the company’s clients, ensuring quality, regulatory and formula assistance, research and development. Inaugurated in September 2019, the new plant covers an area of 4,800 square metres, 1,200 of which is dedicated to production and packaging. Equipped with the very latest technologies, its clean room has been set up in line with strict pharmaceutical standards. In just a few months, FMC has made a considerable qualitative leap when it comes to technological innovation and production capacity. Thanks to the new technologies we have adopted, says Dr Cappucci, the company will be able to introduce more production cycles, optimising research processes for better quality, safety and environmental sustainability. The company aims to build on the two million tablets and one million capsules it already produces every day, backed by over 4,000 microbiological tests run every year. Its quality control laboratory ensures accuracy and sterility throughout the production line, from sampling to factory analysis, while R&D lab technologists strive to create increasingly innovative formulations. IMA Active technologies boost our capacity to a level of quality and innovation comparable to those of the big pharmaceutical companies, continues Dr Cappucci. Indeed, the FMC plant fully meets all the standards of a pharmaceutical plant. And its owner explains why: the food supplements sector is not regulated. We are positioned somewhere between pharmaceuticals and food. The time has now come for this sector to be properly regulated in terms of both production and plants, he continues. Our new plant was built to pharmaceutical standards because we want to be ready when regulation comes into effect. We are banking on the fact that our clients will validate our production method.
FMC has embarked on standardising its production process thanks to the technologies and support of IMA Active.

 

In view of the opening of the new plant, let’s look back at the key stages in your collaboration with IMA Active…

I’ll be honest, we had almost decided to go ahead with a competitor with a lower technological level, but in late 2017 we made the decision to work with IMA Active. After visiting their test laboratory, our plant manager was left in no doubt: we had to go with IMA because they had demonstrated their peerless capacity in terms of automation and technological support. So that’s what we did. In February 2018 we placed the order and all the equipment was being installed just nine months later: first the wash booth, then the columns, and finally the granulator and mixer.
We ran the Site Acceptance Test through April and May 2019 and were fully operational by August.

 

It all began with granulation…

Yes it did. Everything began with a desire to move to a more advanced mixing and granulation system. We wanted at all costs to standardise production in a sector in which it is difficult to do so because the products are very different from one another. We chose the Roto Cube because it’s a high-performing, streamlined system that allows us to process batches varying from 30 kg to 500 kg. The granulator is also very quick to wash, which is an essential requirement for us because we work with small batches and change product often. We then decided to purchase all the other equipment from IMA Active as well because we wanted to deal with just one supplier for mixing, columns and the wash booth.

 

And that’s how Atlantis arrived…

The bin is washed in just 30 minutes, which is incredibly efficient as wash cycles go. The Atlantis with rotating platform guarantees washing and drying speed, high standards of cleanliness and optimised use of time. These aspects are all fundamental for us, as we can do up to six or seven wash cycles a day. The wash booth operator was so pleased to see it arrive and adjusted right away to working with the new technology, thanks to the special training given by IMA technicians.

 

After all, the only two machines you have moved from your old plant are from IMA Active…

Yes, two capsule filling machines, Zanasi 25 and Zanasi 40. We used second-hand machines until 2006. The first major technology we acquired was the Zanasi 25. One of our partners had a Zanasi 40E.
So, when the capsule business began to grow, we contacted IMA Active. For five months we had seen the capsules produced by our subcontractor and they were great. The suction tank was the crucial feature for us: we needed a machine that could load under suction because the product we usually work with is rich in active ingredient and poor in excipients. So, when we purchased the Zanasi 40, we wanted it to be exactly the same as the one we had observed. The qualitative leap was immediate. With the old machinery, if we finished processing a batch at 10 in the morning, we weren’t able to restart until the next day. Zanasi enables us to restart just four hours later. It’s allowed us to gain days and days of production time. Ultimately, IMA Active technologies have boosted our capacity to a level of quality and innovation comparable to those of the big pharmaceutical companies.