Every month Sobel & Co. highlights a different manufacturer offering a brief description of the company and a major issue or obstacle that needed to be addressed.

 

We share the solutions offered by the New Jersey Manufacturing Extension Program (NJMEP) review the steps the company took as the leaders embraced new concepts. Change is inevitably difficult for anyone, but for these manufacturers it was inevitable in order to sustain their profitability and to maintain their stature as a cutting edge company in the community.

 

Novel Ingredients, like the case studies that have appeared in this column in previous months, faced challenges on several fronts and they knew they needed help to achieve all their goals.    

 

About the Company

For over 15 years, Novel Ingredients has established a standard of excellence in the distribution of premium botanical ingredients. Under new leadership, Novel invested significantly in its people, processes, and infrastructure, including the purchase in 2014 of a state-of-the-art 40,000 square foot manufacturing plant in East Hanover, NJ. Novel also maintains an Asia purchasing and quality office based in Xi’an, China. Having transformed the business, the company now delivers a remarkable portfolio of ingredient innovations, process technologies, and a suite of manufacturing capabilities.

 

Novel offers a wide range of services, including wet and dry milling, blending, granulation, agglomeration, and instantization. The Company also has full pilot plant and powder product development capabilities. The manufacturing site is ISO 9001 certified, USDA Organic and Kosher certified and is an NSF GMP registered facility.

 

The Challenges

The long term plan for Novel Ingredients required an aggressive strategy to meet its growth objectives. To do so a new team was put in place, plans were finalized for a move and they began to address the need to change its certifications and improve its processes. Taking on all these major at once could potentially derail a company and keep it from achieving its objectives. But Novel did not plan to let that happen. Instead, they positioned themselves to succeed and to stay on course they brought in New Jersey Manufacturing Extension Program, Inc. (NJMEP).

 

The Solution

NJMEP suspected that Novel would benefit from Lean Manufacturing Tools and Techniques so a Lean Assessment was conducted. The results of the assessment confirmed that Novel was an ideal candidate to transform its processes to a Lean model.  But there was some concern as to the cost of this solution.

 

NJMEP explained to the company it was an excellent candidate for a NJDOL Skills4Jersey Grant.  The grant, if approved, would greatly reduce the costs for implementing “Lean” training which would improve its processes and change its certifications.

 

Working closely together, Novel and NJMEP developed an implementation plan and submitted a grant application. Once it was approved, the implementation began. NJMEP and its team of resources trained 79 employees from front office, management and production in Lean, Business Management/Plant Layout, Excel, Quality Control Technology, Industrial Manufacturing Technology and Materials Sciences.

 

A Challenging Implementation Process

Unfortunately, to further complicate matters, training took place while Novel was in the middle of moving from West Caldwell, where they had five GMP processing rooms, to the larger facility in East Hanover, where they have 35 GMP processing rooms.

 

At the same time they were also going through the transition period from being a privately held company to being owned by an investment group.

And one last headache arose when they learned that due to the changes they made in manufacturing, they had to switch as a company from complying to FDA’s 21 CFR 110 (food) to 21 CFR 111 (finished dietary supplement manufacturer).  

 

These obstacles were dealt with during the training program, during which time more people were brought into compliance with the expanded GMP regulations of 21 CFR 111.  With the training, they were also able to make a smooth transition related to the growth of going from five processing rooms to 35 processing rooms.   

 

Further, the training enabled Novel to use Lean Processing techniques to develop and expand the process flows of a much more complicated production flow that was facilitated by their move into the larger building. The trainers were very effective throughout the process, talking to different levels within the company from corporate positions to non-technical workers on the shop floor. What was most impressive was their wealth of knowledge and their ability to draw on real life examples, which made the training easier to understand and put it into perspective. \

 

Results

When reviewing the data regarding the impact of the Lean project, Novel reported:

  • Increased sales of $800,000

  • Six new hires

  • A cost savings of $800,000 that included $48,800 in training costs as a result of the Skills4Jersey Grant.

  • $180,000 invested in new processes and products

 

This case study demonstrates how important it is to have a strategic vision and to find the resources to turn that vision into a reality.