A Ride Down the Packaging Line

There are many different ways that a bottle can travel through a packaging system, depending on the machinery involved, the production necessary, the level of automation, the bottle types and sizes, the product and so many other factors. But today we will look at some of the standard machinery that a bottle might encounter on a line, running from being placed on the line to being accumulated after being prepared. Note, however, that at each station, there are a number of different options from those described below.

For an automatic packaging system, the first task is to get the bottles to the conveyor system that will move containers from one machine to the next. A loading turntable allows an operator to simply place bottles on the turntable top to be delivered to the main conveyor system. Once on the turntable top, the rotation of the table will move bottles in a circular motion around the table. A bottle guide helps push containers to the outer edge of the table. Once on the outer edge, bottles will make their way around the table to an exit area leading to the main conveyor.

A short trip down the main power conveyor system will bring the bottles to an inverting rinsing machine, used to remove dust and other debris from containers prior to the introduction of product. An indexing system will be used to stop the movement of bottles on the power conveyor in the desired position for rinsing. Once the correct number of bottles are lined up, a clamp closes to secure the containers. Multiple containers are inverted over a rinse basin and cleaned using air, water or other liquid for a pre-set period of time. Once rinsed, containers are returned to the power conveyor, the clamp releases and they will continue down the line.

Similar to the rinsing machine, an indexing system will be used to locate multiple bottles in the correct position under fill heads to receive product. Inverting containers will not be necessary for the fill. Instead, fill heads will open to release product, possibly diving in to the bottles or sealing over bottle openings, depending on the type of filling machine in use. Bottles remain in position until the fill is completed, based on volume, weight, level or other principle. Once heads are out of the way, the indexing releases the containers and the journey on the power conveyor continues.

Now that product has been introduced, the bottle will need to be sealed for protection and to avoid spills, splashes or other issues. A spindle capper works somewhat differently from the rinser and filler described above. Rather than stopping to receive the cap, the bottle will pass under a chute to receive the cap as it moves in to the capping area. Stabilizing components such as gripper belts and bars over the cap ensure that the bottle remains steady while moving through spinning disks that will tighten the cap consistently and reliably. Without pausing, the capped bottles will exit the spindle capper and continue down the power conveyor.

As bottles approach the labeling machine, they may be oriented or separated to ensure smooth application of labels on the front or back of the bottle or in other formats such as a wrap or panel configuration. Again, no indexing system will be used to stop or hold bottles, as they will simply receive a label and continue down the power conveyor.

Now that the bottle has been rinsed, filled, capped and labeled, they will be accumulated to prepare for shipping. As they began their journey empty on a turntable, so they will end it ready for the shelf on a turntable. But rather than being used to move containers to the conveyor, the accumulating turntable does at its' name suggests, gathers bottles for post-packaging chores. As completed product accumulates, operators of the system can begin to pack bottles in cases, on pallets or in any other manner necessary, and just like that the bottle has made its way through the packaging system.

As noted above, there are many different options for any packaging line, including automated machinery for packing and palletizing as well. Each system will differ based on the wants and needs of the individual packager. To learn more about complete packaging systems, browse the LPS website or call the LPS offices to speak with a Packaging Specialist about your own project today.