Basic Packaging Systems - Rinse, Fill, Cap, Label

Basic Packaging Systems - Rinse, Fill, Cap, Label

There can be a multitude of different machines on any packaging system.  From loading equipment such as turntables and laning conveyors to packing equipment like case tapers, case packers, pallet wrappers and more.  However, the heart of a packaging system consists of those machines that will prepare the product for the shelf.  This equipment may include rinsing machines for clean containers, filling machines to move product, capping machines to seal those products and labeling machines to introduce the product to the potential consumers.  There are several ways that these machines can be set up to efficiently prepare a product.

Complete Turnkey In-Line Packaging Systems

Many packaging systems will simply include automatic rinsers, fillers, cappers and labelers.  Each machine will roll up to a power conveyor system that will carry bottles from one machine to the next.  Of course, each category of machinery will allow the packager several options from which to choose.  Rinsing machines may normally include inverting wet rinsers or inverting air rinsers, though some companies may opt for bottle washers or vacuums depending on their specific needs.  Filling machines can be manufactured for thin liquids, viscous liquids, hot fills, products with particulates or any other product characteristic.  Capping machines will normally be chosen based on the type of closure being used, from screw on type caps to snap caps and more.  Labeling equipment will be set up based on the manner in which the label is applied, such as front and back, wrap or panel.  
Turnkey, in-line systems may include many of the other pieces of equipment described in the introduction, but will also require the space for the conveyor system and each individual machine!  These systems are normally used for higher speed and completely automated packaging lines.

Space Saving Monoblock Packaging Systems

Monoblock systems generally allow packagers to create systems around a starwheel indexing system.  As the bottles circle the starwheel, several positions on a starwheel may complete a function of the packaging system.  For instance, bottles may enter the starwheel and immediately be filled, then as they turn around the wheel, capping may take place.  The monoblock packaging system can be configured to include any packaging equipment the packager deems necessary, but can also be combined with automatic machinery as well.  For instance, a rinsing machine may sit before the monoblock system, or a labeler may be positioned on a conveyor as bottles exit a monoblock system.  
Monoblock Packaging Systems are often used for smaller containers such as vials or tubes, or when space is a concern and the production floor may not accommodate an entire in-line packaging system.

Semi-Automatic Uniframe Packaging Systems

Like the monoblock system, a uniframe packaging system can be ideal where production space is limited.  However, these systems sacrifice some of the automation of the previous systems.  Uniframe packaging systems can combine rinsers, fillers, cappers, labelers or virtually any other piece of equipment on to a single frame.  The actual packaging functions, however, will require the assistance of an operator.  The operator may first place bottles into a rinser, then move cleaned bottles to the filler and finally cap and label the containers.  Each function will require the operator to initiate the packaging to be done.  A finger switch may start the rinse cycle, a foot switch could be used for the fill cycle, while the placement of the bottle into a nest may start the capping or labeling process.
Uniframe packaging systems are ideal for lower to medium production runs where an operator is available for the packaging process.

Tabletop Packaging Systems

Tabletop machinery can save even more space than the uniframe system described above.  These machines can literally be set up on a tabletop, nearly removing the need for a production floor completely.  Packagers may also choose this equipment to speed up one aspect of packaging that may be lagging behind others, or to correct difficult packaging issues.  For example, if a packager can fill 30 bottles a minute, but can only cap 15 bottles per minute, the packager may use a tabletop capping machine to help speed up that aspect of the process.  In another instance, labels may be difficult to apply smoothly and evenly for certain packagers, and a tabletop labeler can help to ensure consistent and reliable application.
Tabletop systems can be used to set up complete semi-automatic systems or to add efficiency to a single step in the packaging process.

Custom Packaging Machinery

There are always projects that just don't seem to be a good fit for any of the packaging systems described above.  In these cases, custom designed machinery, to handle the specific product, package, closure, label or other components of the project will be manufactured by LPS while also taking into account the space available, the production demands, the personal desires of the packager and any other factors that may effect the process.  For example, filling pouches may require a special conveyor or other manner of transfer. Odd shaped bottles may require modification to rinsing or labeling equipment.  Tall caps might change the way bottles are sealed.  These projects simply require in depth analysis of each and every aspect of the packaging process to find the best possible solution.