Bottling Equipment for the Beverage Industry

Bottling Equipment for the Beverage Industry

There are literally thousands of new beverages that hit the market each year.  Some of these beverages are new twists on old favorites from the brand name beverage companies.  Other drinks stem from new beverage companies with a distinctive flavor, innovative mix of ingredients or some other unique factor.  New bottled water companies may simply stem from the discovery of a new source of water.  Running a distillery may be a hobby turned into the dream of running a business.  Whatever the reason, there will never be a drought of choices in the beverage market for the simple fact that human beings need, and enjoy, beverages.  Of course, the number of cans or bottles produced for a given beverage will depend on the demand for that beverage and the region served, be it local, national or international.  The type of bottling equipment used for any particular beverage will also depend on these factors and a few others as well.

SEMI-AUTOMATIC BOTTLING EQUIPMENT

For start up companies or products with a local or regional reach, semi-automatic bottling equipment may be the best choice.  Semi-automatic equipment can include bottle rinsers, filling machines, capping machines and labeling equipment, along with other complementary packaging equipment, in a number of different set ups.  Tabletop machinery is an ideal choice for packaging facility with limited production space.  A simple bottling line can be created using tabletop fillers, cappers and labelers to be run by one or multiple operators.  A similar packaging line can be created using a uni-frame filling system.  These packaging systems normally include a semi-automatic filling machine, but will allow the beverage packager to add other machinery to the same frame.  In the beverage industry, uni-frame machines will usually include rinsing machines, chuck cappers and labelers.  The uni-frame option further compacts the different components of a packaging system and allows a single operator to complete multiple functions when bottling the beverages.

Other semi-automatic packaging equipment for the Beverage Industry can be manufactured on the same frame used for automatic packaging machines.  Portable, semi-automatic equipment is the best choice when growth is expected and the need for automatic machinery is likely in the future.  Rather than purchasing all new equipment, these semi-automatic machines - including the container cleaning equipment, liquid fillers and cappers - can be upgraded in the future to run automatic production.  In other words, the bottling equipment grows right along with the company.  Once production reaches a certain level, automatic machinery will be necessary to efficiently and reliably meet bottling demands.

AUTOMATIC BOTTLING EQUIPMENT

In the Beverage Industry, almost all lines will include some type of automatic container cleaning machine.  Bottle rinsers or bottle vacuums will be used to remove contaminants from the bottle before the beverage is introduced, ensuring a safe, clean product reaches the consumer.  These machines will either invert bottles over a rinse basin to remove debris or use a special nozzle to first loosen debris and then vacuum out the waste.  Automatic bottle rinsers will use a PLC with an easy to use touchscreen operator interface.

Once bottles are clean, the next stop is the automatic liquid filling machine.  In the beverage industry, overflow fillers and gravity fillers are the most popular type of bottle fillers.  Most beverages are somewhat thin, free-flowing liquids ideal for these two filler types.  Overflow fillers allow beverages to be filled to a consistent level and can handle foaming that can occasionally occur with different drinks.  Gravity fillers allow an economical and simple time based fill that can also handle free flowing liquids with components to handle foaming.  Like the rinsing machines, automatic liquid fillers will include a PLC and easy to use interface to set, record and recall different delay and duration times for specific bottles.

Most packaging lines will then send the bottles to the automatic capping machine to create a secure seal.  Some facilities may use a nitrogen purge system prior to the capping process to give the beverage a longer shelf life and preserve the taste and color as well.  Automatic capping machines will use a cap delivery system to allow for continuous sealing of bottles as they move down the packaging line.  Though many bottles in the beverage industry will use a screw on type cap, others can be found on occasion.  For this reason, automatic spindle cappers and chuck cappers are the most popular capping machines in the Beverage Industry, but ROPP caps or even snap caps will require different, or custom, capping machines.  

Once bottles are cleaned, filled and capped, the next stop on the automatic packaging line will usually be a labeling machine.  Again, many beverages will label bottles with a wrap label, using an automatic pressure sensitive labeler.  However, the type of label will depend in part on the bottle being used and the desire of the bottler.  Simple front labels, front and back labels, panel labels and other custom label patterns can be seen throughout the beverage industry.  Labeling machines will often also include a coding machine to imprint the expiration date, batch number or other information directly onto the label.  Once the label is attached, the beverage is pretty much ready to move to the shelf and the eyes of the consumer. 

Rinsing, filling, capping and labeling are the heart of a beverage packaging system.  Of course, power conveyors will be used to move bottles from one machine to the next.  The absence of a conveyor system would essentially defeat the purpose of employing automatic packaging machines.  Other components may also be present on a beverage packaging system based on the desired automation level and the actual process used by the bottling facility.  These other components may include bottle unscramblers, indexing or landing conveyors or even turntables to load bottles onto the packaging line.  Induction sealers or neck banders might be used to provide tamper evidence to the product.  Shrink wrap bundlers and heat tunnels can create six packs, eight packs, cases or other combinations of individual beverages.  Finally, an array of packing equipment - from case erectors and case tapers to stretch wrappers and palletizers - are available to help prepare product to ship.

The beverage industry contains a multitude of products unique in taste, texture, color and other aspects.  Though certain packaging machines will be seen often in the industry, each bottling project will require some fine tuning to standard packaging machines to efficiently and effectively serve that particular project.  Bottlers need to take the time to understand all options before choosing the best fit for their own plant and we encourage any and all in the Beverage Industry to call and take advantage of the packaging experts at Liquid Packaging Solutions.