Automatic Capping Machine Changeover

Automatic Capping Machine Changeover

Automatic capping machines are often characterized by their ability to automatically deliver the caps to the bottle.  On a number of different pieces of capping equipment - such as spindle cappers and chuck cappers - the only difference between a semi-automatic machine and an automatic machine may be the existence of the automatic cap delivery system.  Changeover on these automatic capping machines, therefore, involves adjustments to both the capping and tightening components of the machine as well as to the cap delivery components.

For facilities that run one bottle and one cap all the time, changeover is unnecessary.  However, this is the exception, not the norm.  Most packaging facilities will find it necessary to change over from one bottle to another, whether for a new product or simply for a different size of the same product.  The adjustment to the capping and stabilizing components of an automatic capping machine may differ slightly depending on the machine itself, but some adjustments will be required when a new bottle and cap combination are put in place.  

Most capping machines will use some type of belts or rails to stabilize bottles as they move through the capping process.  For example, a spindle capping machine will use gripper belts to both move bottles through the capping process and stabilize the bottles as they move.  Large or odd shaped bottles may even require double gripper belts.  Conveyor rails may be in place for other capping machines, or some may use a starwheel to stabilize and correctly position bottles.  These stabilizing components may require some simple hand adjusting when moving from one bottle to another, in the form of hand knobs or a crank handle. 

Once the stabilizing adjustments are made, some adjustments will probably be necessary to the components that actually do the tightening or sealing.  Again, using the spindle cappers as an example, the spindle wheels that actually tighten the cap may need to be lifted, lowered, widened or narrowed.  For a snap capping machine, the snap belt may need to be raised or lowered.  Again, these adjustments to actual sealing components will normally be quick and simple, using crank wheels and adjustment knobs that can be loosened and secured by hand.

Once these adjustments are completed, the operator of the packaging line can move to the cap delivery systems.  Most cap delivery systems will consist of a cap elevator and/or a vibratory bowl.  As caps move out of the sorting device they will enter a chute that will take them, properly oriented, to the capping machine itself.  Once again, most adjustments to the cap delivery systems will be quick and simple.  The lane of the chute down which the cap travels will need to be widened or narrowed to accommodate the given cap and stabilizing fingers or tongues may need to be adjusted to properly hold caps.  Air jets for cap rejection may need a slight adjustment as well based on the cap type and size that is being used.

Overall, the manufacture of automatic capping machines ensures that changeover will be as quick and simple as possible, limiting the costly downtime experienced in changing from one cap and bottle combination to another.  Some packagers using a wide variety of cap types and sizes may require more extensive changeover techniques and the changeover will vary slightly depending on the actual type of capper that is being used on the packaging line.  For more information on changeover for a specific capping machine, contact the offices of Liquid Packaging Solutions today to speak with a Packaging Professional.