Bottle Changeover - Automatic Capping Machines for Screw on Type Closures

Bottle Changeover - Automatic Capping Machines for Screw On Type Closures

In most cases, even if a facility is packaging only one product, that product will be placed into bottles or other containers that vary in size, shape or both.  Bottles of different sizes or shapes may use different caps, but even if the same cap is used, the differences in the bottle alone will likely require some modification, or changeover, to the capping machine when moving production from one bottle to another.  Today we will look at the common changeover procedure for screw on type capping machines that use different bottles or caps for different production runs.  

Spindle Capping Machines

One of the capping machines used for screw on type closures is a spindle capping machine.  This machine will use multiple sets of matched, spinning wheels to tighten down the screw on closures as the bottle and cap move through the machine on a power conveyor.  One or two gripper belts, depending on the bottle or container, will be used for stability to ensure consistent and reliable sealing.  Automatic spindle cappers will also use a cap delivery system to move closures into a chute, from which each bottle will strip one cap for tightening.  
When moving from one bottle to another on a spindle capper, the changeover process will require several adjustments that are made quick and simple by the design of the machine.  The spindle wheels themselves can be moved in and out to accommodate different widths, as well as up and down for different heights, ensuring that the disks hit the cap at the precise location for consistent tightening.  These adjustments are made using simple hand knobs for the in and out movement and a power height switch (left to raise, right to lower) for the up and down movement, making this part of the changeover process quick and simple.  
The gripper belts will also need to be adjusted in the same manner - in and out, up and down - to find the correct spot on the bottles to keep them stable during the capping process.  Again, the process is simple, using one hand crank to move the belts in and out and a second to move them up and down.  In some cases, a second set of belts may need to be added or removed where the variation in bottle size is great.  The gripper belt assembly allows this to be done by simply tightening or loosening bolts to add or remove the second set of gripper belts and the necessary spacers.  Again, the spindle capping machine is designed to make changeover as simple as possible to minimize down time.  
Finally, guide rails on the power conveyors and similar guides on the capper chute may need to be adjusted to accommodate different bottles and caps.  The rails will normally be adjusted by loosening a hand knob to allow for movement, finding the correct placement of the rails and then tightening the hand knob.  Once these adjustments are made, production can be started with the new bottles and caps.

Chuck Capping Machines

Chuck capping machines are available as simple handheld machines, semi-automatic tabletop and portable equipment and also as completely automatic, inline machines.  Each of these models consist of a metal chuck with a rubber or compound insert that will assist in the tightening of the chuck.  The chuck and chuck insert will lower to cover the cap as it sits on the bottle.  Once in place, the chuck will spin and apply the necessary torque to tighten the closure to the bottle.  The equipment is manufactured to allow for consistent torque as well, resulting in reliable seals on each and every bottle.
Normally, a single chuck will be able to handle the range of caps run by any given packager.  However, there may be some projects that will require more than one chuck.  In these situations, the chuck can normally be changed out using a simple, quick release connection, sliding one chuck head out of the machine and the new one in.  The chuck inserts themselves simply pop in and out of the chuck that is being used, again making changeover quick and easy.  For automatic chuck cappers, changing from one chuck size to another may require unscrewing the chuck from the assembly and screwing the new one in to place.    
Like the spindle capper, the chuck capping machine may require height adjustments for different bottles.  Semi-automatic machines will normally use a simple hand crank to adjust height, while automatic machines will use the same type of height adjustment switch as the spindle capper described above, a simple turn to the left or right.  Also like spindle capping machines, automatic machines may require adjustments to the power conveyor rails or the cap delivery system.  Again, these adjustments for changeover will entail loosening and tightening hand knobs to slide railing into place.  
Finally, automatic chuck cappers will often take advantage of some type of starwheel indexing.  This indexing uses a wheel with notches cut out for individual bottles.  As the bottles move around the starwheel, they will come to rest under the chuck capping heads, where the torque will be applied.  In these cases, the situation may arise where the starwheel may require changeover for different bottle sizes.  Again, the process is normally simple, requiring the operator to simply loosen a screw to remove the wheel and replace it with the correct wheel to be used.  At this point, the capping machine will be back online and ready to resume production.
Of course, different projects may require different or unique adjustments or modifications.  If you would like more information on capping equipment or the changeover process, feel free to browse our website or call our offices to speak with a Packaging Specialist.