Complete Packaging Systems for Beverages
Not surprisingly, beverages are one of the most popular products to use the packaging machinery manufactured by Liquid Packaging Solutions. From water and juice to distilled spirits, tea, energy drinks and more, beverages probably make up a bigger percentage of the products served by LPS equipment than any other general category. While the variety of products found in beverages means that no one packaging system will work for all beverages, there are some common machines that will likely be found on all packaging systems for these liquids.
LOADING AND ACCUMULATING EQUIPMENT
For automatic systems for beverages, loading equipment such as turntables, unscramblers or some type of loading conveyor may be used to get bottles on to the main conveyor, to be transferred to the other equipment found on the line. However, not all beverages will use a fully automatic packaging line. For those using semi-automatic or even tabletop machinery, the loading equipment may simply consist of a slide track that allows the operators of the equipment to slide bottles under fill heads or capping heads.
Accumulating equipment will be used to gather product after the filling, capping, labeling and other processes to get the product ready to ship. Again, the accumulating equipment may come in different forms, but will usually gather the beverages via a turntable or conveyor. Some automatic systems may use bundling machines, casing equipment and other machinery to create bundles or packs of beverages. Semi-automatic or tabletop systems may simply use the table for accumulation and hand packing, or they may also take advantage of a turntable, non-power conveyor or other accumulation method.
Power conveyors will be used for beverages that use automatic packaging equipment. The conveyor system allows the transfer of bottles from one packaging machine to another in an efficient manner, taking away the need for the operator to load and unload each machine. Conveyor systems for beverages may often include sanitary style conveyors to help keep the packaging process clean, given that the industry works with products that will be sold for human consumption. The conveyor system can be custom designed for height, width and the space available for each unique project.
CONTAINER CLEANING MACHINES
Again, given that the beverage products are sold for human consumption, container cleaning equipment will usually be included in a packaging system for these products. Automatic bottle rinsers and washers may be used to ensure containers are cleaned inside, outside or both, depending on the specific needs of the project and the containers. The rinsing machine will normally be set up just before the filling equipment, to ensure that dust, debris and other contaminants from the production of bottles, the transport of bottles or simply the storage of the containers is removed before product is introduced. Container cleaning equipment for semi-automatic and tabletop packaging systems will require an operator to load and unload containers from the equipment, but will serve the same purpose of removing contaminants from bottles to help keep the packaging process sanitary.
Different filling principles will be used for different types of beverages, but two in particular are popular in the industry. Overflow filling machines allow a beverage to be filled to the same level in each container, regardless of slight variations in the interior volume of the containers. These liquid fillers are ideal for beverages packaged in clear containers, with the level fill adding to the shelf appeal of the product. Gravity fillers may not fill to the same level if the interior volume of containers varies, but it will provide an accurate volumetric fill, which can be important for certain types of beverages. All filler types can be manufactured as automatic equipment, semi-automatic equipment or tabletop machines depending on the production demand and the desire of the packager.
The type of capping machine used on beverage products will depend on the type of closure being used to seal the bottle or other container. Many beverages use a simple screw on type cap, making spindle cappers and chuck capping machines very popular in the industry. However, certain niches within the industry will typically use something other than a screw on cap. For instance, wines and distilled spirits will see more ROPP cappers than other beverages. These products will also use more corks, T-corks and plug type machines, making bartop corkers and even custom capping machinery more common in the beverage industry than in other industries. Just like filling equipment, all the different types of capping machines can be manufactured as automatic, semi-automatic and tabletop machines to meet the production demands of the beverage packager.
LABELING AND CODING EQUIPMENT
Like other industries, the beverage industry will use labeling equipment to, among other things, introduce their product to the consumer. For this reason, labels can take on many different formats. Though the wrap label - wrapping around the bottle - is popular in the beverage industry, consumers are also likely to see front and back, panel wraps and other formats depending on the type of bottle or container being used. Labeling machines can work automatically or use operator assistance to apply labels in a semi-automatic manner. Coding equipment will almost always be used to apply lot numbers, batch numbers, expiration dates and other information.
In addition to the equipment described above, beverage packagers may use several other pieces of equipment depending on their individual needs and desires. Induction sealers and neck banders may be used on some beverages for safety and tamper evidence. Bundling equipment is also somewhat common in the beverage industry to create four packs, twelve packs and similar product combinations. Packing equipment such as case packers and pallet wrappers may also be included on a packaging system for beverages to assist in getting product off the production floor and quickly to the consumers.
As with any other industry, a case-by-case analysis of the product, container, production demand, floor space and other factors will be completed in order to determine the best packaging solution for individual projects. If you have a beverage product and would like to learn more about packaging machinery for the industry, feel free to call LPS and speak with a Packaging Specialist today.