A General Guide to Conveyor Systems

The main goal of any conveyor system designed for a packaging line is to move bottles or containers from one machine to the next to allow for rinsing, filling, capping, labeling and other packaging processes. Seems pretty simple, but the types of containers and components available are actually quite extensive, and conveyors may be used for purposes other than transferring as well.


The most common conveyors on an automatic packaging system are generally known as power conveyors, that is, motorized belt or chain conveyor systems. However, even power conveyors can take on a number of different designs, lengths, widths and even heights and directions. From low profile to C-frame to sanitary style conveyors, these systems will be matched to the product and project requirements, including production demand, weight, space and more.

Materials will match the project, with most systems using stainless steel frame and construction materials. However, when a product is being packaged that does not interact well with stainless steel - like certain acids - HDPE may be substituted as a construction material to ensure both a long life for the system as well as reliable and consistent performance. Power conveyors can be built at virtually any height and width necessary and may be constructed in a simple, straight line or might container numerous curved, inclined or declined sections. Generally, the conveyor system for an automatic packaging line can be built as is necessary for the given project.


In addition to the transfer of bottles or other containers from one packaging machine to another, power conveyors can also be used to load a packaging line with containers in preparation of rinsing, filling, capping, labeling and otherwise packaging the product. Loading or indexing conveyors will normally include a loading dead plate or loading table that sits just behind a laned conveyor. As bottles are unloaded from boxes, pallets, bags or other containers, they can be loaded into each of the lanes for transfer to the main conveyor system, which moves the bottles from machine to machine. While other methods may be more popular than loading conveyors, such as unscrambling machines and turntables, these conveyors will provide the best solution for some packaging processes.


When dealing with molten products and other hot fill items, cooling conveyors may also be used on an automatic packaging system. These types of conveying systems are really just an extension of the transfer or main conveyor system. When products are filled hot, extra time to cool may be necessary between the filling machine and the next packaging stage (which is usually capping and sealing). The extended cooling conveyor allows this time for product to set, gel or simply cool down so as not to have an effect on the quality of the cap, bottle or seal. These conveyors, like transfer conveyors, can be built to use vertical or horizontal space to serve the needs of the individual project. Unlike regular transfer conveyors, cooling conveyors will typically use heat resistant conveyor belt and may include a fan cooling system to expedite the process.


Non-power conveyors may also be used for accumulating, transferring or packing products, sometimes in combination with power conveyors. These conveyors have no motor, but instead use rollers, skates or similar components to move containers or boxes from one place to another through gravity or a plain old push. For example, an automatic packaging line may use power conveyors right up the end of the system, at which time a roller conveyor might be used to load boxes with multiple products as they come off the line. Semi-automatic lines may also take advantage of non-power conveyors as well, and they are often seen in rinsing, washing and filling machinery for large three and five gallon bottles.

The best way to choose the ideal conveyor solution for any given project is to analyze all the components of the project, from product, container, space, production demand and more. For expert help with such an analysis, contact LPS toll free today to speak with a Packaging Specialist.