Changing Bottles & Converting the Packaging Line

Changing Bottles & Converting the Packaging Line

Pepsi recently announced that they will be introducing a new shape for their 16 ounce and 20 ounce bottles, which have remained unchanged since approximately 1996 (See PMMI's Shared Blog). This new move is part of a plan to revitalize the drink that has been losing ground to Coca-Cola in the past few years.  As we have discussed lately in this blog, looking to the future is a necessity when setting up a packaging line.  This move by Pepsi presents a perfect example of why such forward thinking is so important.

Almost any long term packaging company will battle through ups and downs.  Consumer tastes change, sometimes unexpectedly, and few companies are as lucky as Pepsi, Coca-Cola and similar products, in that their popularity barely wavers.  However, even the most popular companies will change their marketing, which will sometimes change their packaging, which will in turn require adjustments to the packaging machinery.

For a change in a bottle, the necessary change in the packaging machinery can be as simple as a few height and width adjustments or as costly as purchasing all new equipment.  As we have noted before, power conveyor systems can be manufactured to handle a wide range of bottle shapes and sizes.  Even if there are no plans to change or add bottle sizes at start up, it can be both a cost efficient and time saving maneuver to plan for the future.  With the right planning, the addition of a different sized bottle or the creation of a newly shaped bottle can be handled with a few guide rail adjustments.  Without proper planning, the conveyor system may simply become obsolete, and a completely new system will need to be purchased.

The same can be said of most filling and capping machines as well.  Both of these packaging machines, when manufactured as automatic machinery, will usually come equipped with a power height adjustment.  This adjustment not only allows for quick and easy bottle set up and changeover, but it allows for the addition of different sized bottles in the future.  Filling machines can be manufactured with fill bars and nozzles that are easily adjustable as well, helping to accommodate different widths and volumes.  Certain capping machines will allow for changes in the width of the tighteners and stabilizing mechanisms.  

At Pepsi, there will no doubt be adjustments to the container cleaning equipment, liquid fillers, capping machines and power conveyors as a result of the introduction of the new bottle.  However, the conversion of the lines will likely not include the extensive introduction of new packaging machinery.  By planning for future changes and advances, companies like Pepsi can introduce new sizes, new bottles, new caps or other components of their packaging without rebuilding the entire packaging line.