From Packaging World: Installing a fifth filling line will help this leading manufacturer of commercial skin care products address the current demand for hand sanitizer and meet future customer needs.
The global hand sanitizer market is expected to reach $3.47 billion by 2028, up from $2.98 billion in 2020. Kutol Products, a maker of hand soaps, hair and body washes, industrial hand cleaners, and foam and gel hand sanitizers, plans to be a major player as this growth unfolds.
The Cincinnati-based company was founded in 1912, and it now produces under its own Health Guard® and Kutol® Pro brands as well as for private label brands. It’s no stranger to pandemics either, having operated through the 2009 swine flu pandemic. With the arrival of COVID-19, says Vice President of Operations John Rhodenbaugh, “Our business exploded, just as it did during swine flu. With the previous experience gained by the entire Kutol team, we were able to apply lessons learned and make some good decisions this time around. We knew we had an idea of what was coming so we could plan, but we didn’t expect the demand to last so long.”
One key decision was to dedicate all of Kutol’s filling lines to handling only hand sanitizer for a while. All of the tanks and fill lines were converted to produce sanitizer throughout the pandemic. Such products are typically manufactured in an explosion-proof room, but when production expanded to the entire facility, safeguards were put in place to keep safety as a top priority. The second decision was to install a fifth filling line.
“We always planned on adding a fifth line, but COVID expedited our decision-making as it became very clear what product we would be filling with that new line,” says Rhodenbaugh. “During swine flu, we grew as well and we sustained that business long term. We expected the same to happen this time with COVID. We realized if we wanted to sustain three to five times our usual volume into the future, whether that be two or 10 years from now, we would need another line.”
All four of the filling lines already operating at Kutol were anchored by machines made and installed by DTM Packaging , one of the Massman Companies. The newest of the four became operational in late 2018. “That line helped us out significantly through the pandemic,” explains Rhodenbaugh. “We made the decision to turn to DTM again for a high-speed fill line that would fill smaller sizes than our previous line and accommodate not just the hand sanitizer, but any of the products we produce.”
Kutol ultimately purchased a DTM fully integrated bottling line with a DTM Packaging Purefil 2500 In-Line Walking Beam Flow Meter Filler, affectionally named “FillZilla” by Kutol. The simple-to-operate machine features a clean hygienic design and a sanitary product path. An on-board pressure supply tank is equipped with dual-spray ball cleaning. Other design features include top-fill anti-foam nozzles or bottom-up fill capability for filling foamy or high-viscosity products and quick changeover for a range of products and container sizes. Kutol runs PET, HDPE, PVC, or PETG containers in sizes from as small as 1 oz to as large as a half gallon on the new line. The filler can be used as a standalone machine or as part of a complete bottling line as was supplied to Kutol.
Another significant design feature is that the filler is explosion proof, making it ideal for handling the alcohol present in hand sanitizer. According to Rhodenbaugh, if product were to spill on the line from the containers near an open spark or flame, there could be a fire. So at Kutol, the DTM filler is electrically closed, intrinsically safe, and in a classified area.
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