A Line-Up Of Distilled Spirits Packaging Machinery
Given that July 27th is National Scotch Day, today seems like a good day to review the different packaging machinery available for distillers from LPS! Just like distilled spirits cover a wide range of tastes and flavors, the packaging machinery used for preparing any spirit for the shelf will be tailored to the individual distillers need. However, certain machines will be seen more than others on packaging lines for distilled spirits.
From 50 ml to 75 ml, bottles for distilled spirits can be loaded on to packaging line in a number of different ways. The two most common, however, are loading turntables and loading or laning conveyors. Loading turntables are commonly used for more stable round bottles, allowing the bottles to circle the disk top while a bottle guide moves them to the main power conveyor. Disk tops for the turntables come in various sizes to accommodate different bottle diameters.
Laning conveyors may be used when bottles are non-round, unstable or otherwise difficult to guide with the turntable. These conveyors sit perpendicular to the main power conveyor and provide a loading area where operators can place bottles on to the conveyor. The bottles will be separated in to lanes, with the lanes then creating a line of bottles to be delivered to the main conveyors system. Just like the turntables, laning conveyors can work for a variety of bottle sizes due to the easily adjustable lane guides.
For automatic packaging systems, the conveyor system is the lifeline that connects each of the individual machines together, allowing bottles to flow from one machine to the next without operator assistance. The conveyor system can be built in a straight line or utilize curved section to help the flow of the containers meet the needs of the production floor and shipping.
In certain cases, special conveyors or conveyor belting will be used to assist in completing certain tasks when packaging distilled spirits. For example, a distiller that is using a neck band or shrink wrap will use heat resistant belting to complete the job without damage to the product. Conveyor systems can also be manufactured with double rail guide systems to help with taller bottles and are easily adjustable to work with a range of different bottle sizes.
Rinsing machinery helps to keep containers clean before the introduction of the spirits. Whether from the production of the bottle, shipping, or simply sitting in a warehouse, bottles can collect dust and debris prior to entering the packaging system. One type of rinse allows distillers to clean bottles with actual product prior to the fill, helping to protect against cross-contamination of the product with water or other rinsing solution.
However, a second alternative allows distillers to rinse bottles with air prior to the fill. Air also protects against cross-contamination as no other liquid is used. Additional benefits include the lack of lost product due to the rinse, or any waste product once the rinse has been complete.
Most distillers will use one of two liquid filling machines. The first is a gravity filler, which allows a distiller to fill bottles by volume. These simple filling machines can use up to sixteen individually adjustable fill heads to prepare product for the shelf. Gravity fillers are well suited to distilled spirits as they allow thin, free-flowing products to move through the product pathway using a number of different nozzles and, as the name suggest, the power of gravity by holding product in a tank above the fill nozzles.
A second popular option for distillers is the overflow filling machine. Rather than filling by volume, these machines will fill each and every bottle to the same level. The aesthetic benefit for distillers is that once the product reaches the shelf, each and every bottle, placed alongside one another, will create an appealing line for consumers. The overflow filler uses a special nozzle that seals over the bottle opening in order to create the level fill in each bottle.
Capping and Sealing Machines
Distilled spirits can be capped and sealed in a number of different ways! As such, the capping machines seen on a spirits packaging line can differ greatly from line to line.
Capping machines are manufactured to handle the specific closure being used on any line. Therefore a distilled spirits packaging line may contain a corking machine, a spindle capper for screw-on type caps, an ROPP Capper or even a completely custom capping machine for unique closures. Automatic capping machines will always include a cap delivery system, relieving operators of the packaging line from having to place closures on each bottle prior to sealing.
In addition, other sealing equipment may include neck banders, as mentioned above, or even capsule spinners to create another layer of tamper evident packaging. Each distiling project will require a close look at the closures used for the specific distilled spirits to decide which machine or machines will work best for the bottles!
Like capping machines, labelers will be built to apply the label to the spirits in whatever manner the disiller desires. While front and back labels are arguably the most common seen on these products, packagers may also choose to use a wrap label, panel on square bottles or some other format for other unique containers.
While most of the discussion above focuses on automatic packaging machinery, all of the equipment described is also avaialble in a semi-automatic format. Generally speaking, the semi-automatic and tabletop machines for distillers will simply require more operator interaction with each cycle run as well as operator activation of the packaging cycle. For example, the operator of a semi-automatic packaging machine would place bottles under the fill heads and step on a foot switch to activate the fill. These machines allow craft distillers and others with smaller production demands to add efficiency to their packaging systems as well.
To learn more about any of the packaging equipment described above, browse the LPS website by category or simply contact an LPS representative today at 1-888-393-3693.