Automatic Packaging Machinery - Considerations

Automatic Packaging Machinery - Considerations

When setting up an automatic packaging system, there are numerous points to consider.  However, these points will differ from machine to machine.  The key points to consider for a conveyor system will not be the same key points to consider when choosing a filling machine.  Though there can be an array of factors depending on the specific needs of any packaging project, there are also some factors that will almost always be relevant.


Power conveyors generally connect the packaging machines to one another.  While automatic filling machines and automatic capping machines would be efficient as stand alone packaging equipment, that efficiency and productivity increases when connected by a power conveyor system, removing the need to manually transfer bottles between packaging stations.  Power conveyors are available in several different materials and should be matched to the product being packaged.  While stainless steel is probably the most popular material for the conveyors, some products simply do not interact will with stainless.  Certain acids, for example, would cause undue wear and tear through drips, spills or even just fumes.  For corrosive products, plastic material made be used for the conveyor system instead of the stainless steel.  A packager must also consider the weight capacity of the conveyor system as well as the ability to stabilize bottles.  Weight from filled containers can add up quickly on the conveyor system and cause drag or damage to conveyors not built to handle heavy product.  In addition, top heavy, bottom heavy or simply odd shaped bottles can lead to tipping, spilling and jamming of containers on the conveyor system if the correct stabilizing components are not used.  Finally, the belt material can be matched to the project to guard against issues such as heat, static or corrosive product.  


Container cleaning equipment will be used to rinse, vacuum or wash bottles before they reach the filling machinery.  These cleaning machines are used to remove dust, debris and other contaminants that may result from the manufacture or transport of the bottles or even from simple storage before being used.  First and foremost, when considering container cleaning equipment, a packager will want to consider the requirements of the specific industry.  Food, beverage and pharmaceutical companies may be required - by their industry or by federal or local rules -  to use container cleaning equipment.  The packager will also want to consider the type of cleaning that will be used.  Container cleaning machines may use air, water or other cleaning solutions to prepare the bottles for filling and capping.  Again, as an example, a chemical cleaning solution may not be the best choice when packaging foods, beverages or other products that will be ingested.  Finally, the bottle material and shape may put limitations on the type of cleaning that can be performed on any given packaging project.  Certain bottles may require an in-line vacuum rinse rather than an inverted air or wet rinse simply based on the difficulty of inverting and the likelihood of crashing bottles.


Like power conveyors, the material used for the liquid filling machine will be a major consideration.  The filling machine is the only piece of packaging equipment that will directly handle the product being packaged, creating a pathway for the product to travel from the holding tank to the bottles or other containers.  Just as was noted for the power conveyors, the filling machine should be matched to the product being run.  Again, stainless steel will be a popular material for the manufacture of the fillers, but will not always be the best choice.  Corrosive products such as acids and bleaches may call for the construction of an all plastic packaging machine to avoid the negative effects of the product on the stainless steel.  A packager will also want to consider the viscosity of the product being run to choose the correct filling principle.  As a general rule, overflow filling machines and gravity fillers work well with low viscosity, free-flowing products.  Piston fillers and pump filling machines are a good choice for thick, viscous products, keeping in mind that there are always exceptions to the rules.  Finally, speed will be a factor in considering how many fill heads and what type of indexing to add to the automatic filling machine.


Of course, the type of capping machine used on an automatic packaging system will be determined by the type of cap that is used to seal each bottle or container.  The cap type and size will determine whether a screw-type capping machine, such as a spindle capper or chuck capper, is used or if some other type of capper, such as a snap capper or ROPP capper, will be the better choice.  Also determined by the cap shape and size will be the delivery method of the caps to the capping machine.  Cap delivery systems are what allow automatic capping machines to seal containers continuously and reliably without constant operator interruption.  The type and size of cap will help the packager determine if a cap elevator, vibratory bowl or some custom delivery system will work best.  
Of course, any number of other packaging equipment - labelers, coding equipment, induction sealers, packing machines, and more - may be added to the packaging system based on need.  Each additional packaging machine will have unique factors to consider to ensure the best machine for the individual project is chosen.  Liquid Packaging Solutions, Inc. not only manufactures packaging machinery, but also assists in finding the best solution for each individual project.  Our packaging specialists can be reached toll free at 1-888-393-3693.