Automatic Capping Machines - What Makes Them Automatic?
The terms semi-automatic and automatic can often mean different things to different people in the packaging industry, as well as vary in meaning from machine to machine. As a general rule, a semi-automatic packaging machine will require operator interaction with each cycle run. In other words, for every bottle filled, or every container capped, the operator will play some part. Automatic machinery, on the other hand, will not require human assistance with every bottle, cap, label or other component of packaging. This is not to say some human interaction will not be required, but it will not be required with every cycle. As an example, we will look at automatic capping machinery and what actually defines it as "automatic".
Automatic cappers can be manufactured in many different ways, with the type of closure being used the main factor in building the machine. From spindle cappers to chuck capping machines to bartop corkers and more, one major factor turns a bottle capper from semi-automatic to automatic - the cap delivery system. The key to capping bottles without continuous human assistance is making the caps or closures available to the bottles as they enter the capping area. Of course, power conveyors to move the containers and the tightening or closing device also play a factor, but without delivering caps to the containers absent human assistance, no capping machine could truly be considered automatic.
Generally speaking, a cap chute carries closures to a position along the conveyor or starwheel where bottles or other containers can pick up caps just prior to the sealing process. This can differ slightly based on the type of machine. For example, a spindle capper may use an elevator or vibratory bowl to supply caps to the chute. As the bottle passes under the chute, it will strip a cap, which is then stabilized as it moves through the spindle tightening process. Using a bartop corker, the chute may supply the cap to a type of plunger, which will then push the cork in to the bottle. While both types of automatic capping machines use a chute, the technique for tightening or sealing can be slightly different.
Note, however, that even with automatic capping machines, minimal human assistance is necessary. Normally an operator of a fully automatic packaging line will ensure that bulk caps are available to the delivery system to keep the process running efficiently. Depending on production, the bulk caps may be added once before production begins for the day or a few times throughout a shift in high output facilities. Outside of adding the bulk caps, however, automatic bottle cappers otherwise remove the need for an operator to continuously assist with each bottle and cap, leaving them to monitor an entire packaging line. Such monitoring may include loading empty bulk bottles, adding bulk caps, changing label rolls and monitoring the performance of the line as a whole, all depending on the unique set up of the packagers line.
To learn more about capping machines or other automatic packaging machinery, or for assistance in finding the best equipment for your own unique project, contact Liquid Packaging Solutions for a free consultation to identify the best solution for your packaging needs.