A Packaging System Primer - Container Cleaning Equipment

A Packaging System Primer - Container Cleaning Equipment

For many products, container cleaning equipment is a necessity before filling, capping and otherwise packaging a product.  Container cleaning equipment can use air, water or other cleaning solution to remove dust and debris from containers that could lead to product contamination.  These packaging machines are available for automated packaging systems as well as semi-automatic and manual lines.  The bottle rinser or bottle washer used will depend in part on the container run and the production rate desired.


For automated packaging systems with high production demands, rinsing machines and bottle vacuums can provide inline container cleaning without sacrificing speed or efficiency.  Automatic wet rinsing machines can handle many different container shapes and sizes, using water or other liquid cleaning solutions to remove contaminants from the bottles.  The inline wet rinser will index bottles into a rinse area - the number of bottles equal to the number of rinse heads on the packaging machine.  Once the bottles are in place under the rinse heads, the automatic wet rinsing machine grabs and inverts bottles over a rinse basin.  Each nozzle then sprays the inside of the corresponding container, rinsing out dust and debris that may be present from the production of the bottles, from the shipping environment or from simple storage.  Once the rinse is complete, the bottles are returned to the belt conveyor system and moved to the next packaging stage.

Automatic air rinsers can work in the same manner as the wet rinsing machines - inverting bottles and rinsing each with a high pressure blast of air rather than water or other liquid.  Automatic bottle vacuums, however, take away the inverting of the bottle and add a vacuum stage to the container cleaning process as well.  Bottle vacuums index containers into the rinse area just like the inverting rinsing machines.  Once a bottle is in place under each rinse nozzle, these nozzles will descend and enter the bottle.  The dual action rinse nozzles first blast air into the container to loosen dust and debris, then vacuum up that dust and debris into an easily removable and cleanable waste reservior.  Bottle vacuums may also use an ionized air curtain to remove static from containers before the rinse to ensure that contaminants do not adhere to the sides during the rinsing process.  

Depending on container shape, size and material, as well as the availablity of air and water, one rinsing machine may be preferable over another on any given packaging system. In addition, these rinsing machines can be manufactured with as few as two rinse heads for lower production facilities, but can easily be upgraded to the maximum sixteen heads as production increases. 


Not all facilities that package products use automated packaging systems with the necessary conveyor system to use an automatic rinsing machine.  However, for some industries, even if packaging manually or with semi-automatic packaging machines, container cleaning prior to packaging is more or less a requirement.  Food products, for example, are regulated by the FDA.  Contaminants in food products due to dust and debris in bottles can lead not only to action by the FDA, but also to illness - food poisoning and the like - for the end user.  Similarly, pharmaceuticals are manufactured with specific amounts of ingredients to achieve the intended therapeutical result.  Contaminants can dilute the strength or effectiveness of the drug.  These and other industries require container cleaning equipment and sanitary environments to protect the integrity of the product itself.  

If a semi-automatic packaging system is being used, facilities have several options.  Semi-automatic equipment similar to the automatic rinsing machines described above can be manufactured to create a container cleaning station.  In general, these machines would simply not include container indexing.  Instead, rinsing machine operators would manually load containers into the rinsing machines, pressing a button or stepping on a footswitch to begin the rinse cycle.  

The more likely scenario is a manual rinsing machine constructed on a smaller frame that uses simple timers for the rinse cycle.  These machines are manufactured with a set number of rinse heads available.  Operators of the manual rinsing machines load inverted bottles onto the rinse nozzles.  Once the bottles are in place, the operator steps on a footswitch to begin the rinse cycle.  After the cycle is complete, the operator removes the bottles and sends them to the next packaging stage or area.  This process is repeated for each bottle to be filled, capped, labeled and otherwise packaged. Manual rinsing machines can be manufactured with one or multiple rinse heads, depending on the production rate desired.    


Each packaging system will bring with it a unique combination of products, containers, environments and production rates, among other factors.  Sometimes these combination of factors require a custom manufactured packaging machine for container cleaning.  Larger bottles - three, four and five gallon - require unique rinsing and washing machines.  Bottle washers for these larger containers can include four station rinse, wash, sanitize machines or even rinse, fill and cap machines.  Oddly shaped bottles may require modifications to a wet rinser or bottle vacuum if not a completely custom rinsing machine.  At Liquid Packaging Solutions, we work with each individual customer to ensure that the packaging equipment, including the container cleaning equipment, is the correct equipment for that customers specific needs.  

For more information on container cleaning equipment, or packaging systems in general, contact an LPS representative toll free today at 1-888-393-3693.