2020 Product Review - Turntables and Conveyors
While much of the focus when searching for a packaging line will be placed on the best filling machine, capping machine, labeler or other piece of equipment, stringing together these machines to create a complete system would be a difficult chore without bottle loading, unloading and transferring equipment. Loading and accumulating turntables provide one option for loading, gathering or unloading containers, while power conveyor systems allow for the easy transfer of bottles from machine to machine.
Loading turntables are often used to place bottles at the beginning of the packaging line. The rotating turntable top moves bottles around the turntable, while an adjustable bottle guide pushes them toward the release area and on to the power conveyor. The guide is easily adjustable without tools to allow for bottles of different diameter to be loaded on to the packaging system with little changeover time. While turntables are one of the most popular loading alternatives, they work best with round or near-round bottles, while other options may be necessary for square or uniquely shaped containers.
Accumulating turntables will typically be used to gather finished product at the end of a packaging line, assisting in the packing and shipping process. However, this is not always the case. For packagers that combine automatic and semi-automatic equipment, accumulating turntables can be used to gather and move unfinished product. For example, a packager may fill bottles automatically, using the machine to get accurate and consistent volumes or weights in the containers. If manual labor or semi-automatic machinery is used to then cap the bottles, an accumulating turntable may be used to gather the filled containers for the capper operator.
Turntable tops are available in a range of sizes, to accommodate a range of bottle sizes. The machines will usually be manufactured using stainless steel, though other materials are available for packagers of harsh chemicals or in hazardous environments where the stainless material may be compromised.
Conveyor systems truly put the "automatic" into an automatic packaging system. The use of a conveyor system to move bottles from one machine to another removes the need for continuous operator assistance in transferring containers.
The type of conveyor used for any packaging project will be determined by the needs of that project. Conveyors may be manufactured with slim or narrow frames to fit into tight spaces, built to allow for easy washdown, fabricated in a straight line or even in curved sections depending on the layout of the system as a whole. In addition, conveyor belting can be chosen to match the project at hand as well, such as heat resistant belt for those packagers using shrink sleeves or neck bands.
While the length of the conveyor will be determined by the machinery and tasks being performed, the width can be chosen to meet the needs of multiple bottle sizes and shapes. Conveyor guide rails can be adjusted both in and out as well as up and down to help support the different bottles that may travel down the belt. Projects with tall or oddly shaped containers may also utilize double guide rails for added support.
Like turntables, in most cases the conveyor system can be easily adjusted without using tools when changing over from one bottle to another. Also like turntables, conveyor systems will typically be manufactured using stainless steel, but are also available in HDPE for packagers of bleach, acid and similar products.
To learn more about the different options available for these packaging machines, visit the Turntables and Conveyors page of the Liquid Packaging Solutions website.