Automatic Versus Semi-automatic Container Cleaning Equipment

Automatic versus Semi-Automatic Container Cleaning Equipment

Container cleaning equipment may consist of an air rinsing machine, a wet rinser or a bottle vacuum.  This packaging machines will use clean air, water or some other cleaning solution to remove dust and debris from a container before moving the containers to a filling machine, capping machine and other packaging equipment.  Each of these cleaning machines can also be manufactured as semi-automatic or automatic models, many times the deciding factor being the production output needed.
Automatic container cleaning equipment will use a power conveyor system to move bottles into and out of the cleaning area of the packaging machine.  In machines using a basic air or wet rinse, the bottles are normally picked up from the power conveyor and inverted over a rinse basin.  Once inverted, the bottles are blasted with air, water or other solution to remove contaminants.  Once the rinse is complete, the bottles are returned to the conveyor system and move on to the next packaging phase.  In other situations, the bottles will not be inverted, but instead will remain on the conveyor and dual action nozzles will dive into the bottles once they are in place in the cleaning area.  These nozzles will first blast the interior of the bottles with clean air and then vacuum out the loosened dust and debris.  Once the vacuum is complete, the nozzles ascend and the containers once again move down the power conveyor to the next packaging machine, usually an automatic liquid filler.
The advantages of the fully automatic machine are somewhat obvious.  Higher production rates are easily achieved when rinse and/or vacuum cycles occur continuously as the bottles move down the power conveyor.  The automatic container cleaning machines add efficiency to the packaging process.  Automatic machinery will also ensure a consistent and thorough rinse with each cycle, with easily set rinse times and indexing times.  Finally, automatic rinsers remove most of the human interaction with the containers and less human interaction means less human error.  Of course, these inline rinsing machines will have a higher cost than their semi-automatic counterparts and changeover can lead to some downtime if the bottles vary greatly in shape or size.  However, for high production packaging facilities, the benefits of these machines far outweigh the negative aspects.
Semi-automatic rinsing machines can be manufactured in a number of different ways.  The semi-automatic machines may use the frame and components of a fully automatic rinser, but will require an operator to place bottles on a conveyor or under or on the rinse heads.  This type of semi-automatic rinsing machine will be used when a packager expects production demands to grow in the future, allowing the semi-automatic machine to be upgraded to fully automatic operation at a later date.  Other semi-automatic machines will use a smaller footprint and will stand alone at a station that allows the operator to rinse a specific number of bottles at a time.  The machines will usually require the operator to place inverted bottles on a rinse head or heads and then step on a footswitch or press a fingerswitch to activate the rinse cycle.  Normally simple timers will be used to set the rinse duration.  Once the rinse is complete, the operator will remove the bottles from the nozzles and accumulate the clean bottles or send them on to another packaging station.
Semi-automatic machines offer a more economical option for cleaning bottles, but the obvious disadvantage is the sacrifice of output and efficiency.  The semi-automatic rinsing machines will only work as fast as the operator of the machine.  While there is more handling of the bottles and opportunity for human error, such as dropped bottles, the semi-automatic rinsers do still offer consistent and reliable rinsing.  For facilities with lower production runs or lower cleaning requirements, the semi-automatic container cleaning equipment may offer the ideal option.
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