Complete Packaging Systems for Craft Distilleries
As anyone who works in the industry knows, or anyone who just enjoys distilled spirits, the products or brands tend to be packaged in similar containers. Though exceptions do apply, most distilled spirits will be seen in bottles of 750 or 375ml. Other popular bottles include 50 ml, 1 liter and a few other sizes. Packaging equipment must handle all of the sizes, and shapes, that distillers will use to move product to the shelf. However, given the consistency often found in product viscosity, bottle shapes and bottle sizes and material, a typical packaging line for distilled spirits can work as a starting point in finding the ideal solution for any distiller.
Many distillers will use rinsing machinery to ensure that no dust or debris settles in the containers prior to introducing the product to the bottle. While these machines can use air, water, product or other cleaning solution to remove contaminants, the distilled spirits industry will often use either air or product to complete the rinse. This is done to avoid cross-contamination with water or other cleaning solution and keep the spirits pure.
In most cases, distilled spirits will be low viscosity, free-flowing products that will use one of two types of filling machines to prepare product. The first is a simple gravity filler, which as the name suggests, uses gravity to move product into waiting containers. This type of filling machine provides an accurate fill by volume. The second option is an overflow filler, which will fill each bottle to a pre-set level rather than by volume. As distilled spirits are often packaged in clear glass bottles, the overflow filler offers an aesthetic benefit by ensuring spirits create a perfect line for consumers when they reach the shelf. While volume may vary slightly, overflow fillers will fall within necessary tolerances for volume except in extremely rare cases where bottle manufacturers do not put a premium on internal volume.
CORKING & CAPPING MACHINERY
While caps and closures can also vary in the distilled spirits industry, the two most common closures seen are some variation of a cork or T-cork and ROPP caps. Corking machines are used secure T-corks and similar closures into a range of bottles. Automatic machines will both deliver, place and secure corks, while semi-automatic machines will require more operator assistance on a cycle-by-cycle basis. ROPP cappers are aluminum or metal blank caps that are placed over the neck of bottles. Once in place, specially manufactured knives will thread the cap to the bottle to provide tamper evidence and protect the spirits. Other sealing equipment may also be available for distilled spirits projects, including overcaps, capsule spinners and more.
Almost all distilled spirits tend to include a front and back label on their product. However, labeling machinery can be manufactured to apply labels in virtually any way that the distiller sees fit for their project. Distilled spirits may include panel labels or even a top label. The type of label to be applied will depend on both the wishes of the distiller as well as the bottle size, shape, and information to be included on the label.
AUTOMATIC & SEMI-AUTOMATIC MACHINERY
Finally, the output of a craft distillery can range from a few bottles a month to thousands of bottles a day. All of the equipment described above can be manufactured to meet both of these demands and everything in between. Semi-automatic equipment, including tabletop machinery, allows for consistent and reliable packaging while increasing the speed of the process but also requiring operators to assist with each cycle of bottles rinsed, filled, corked or otherwise packaged. Automatic machinery offers the same consistency and reliability, but will increase speed by removing the need for operators with every cycle and creating a packaging system that allows the machinery itself to do a majority of the work, including transferring bottles from one machine to another via power conveyors or other indexing.
Whether using typical 750 and 375ml distilled spirits bottles or a unique package and components, Liquid Packaging Solutions can help find the best solution for preparing product for the shelf, allowing the distiller to focus on other aspects of the business and creation of the spirits.