Considerations for Running Multiple Products on a Packaging Line
Generally speaking, packaging equipment is manufactured to run a range of bottle sizes, products and more. Rinsing and filling machines will handle a range of container shapes and sizes, as well as different products. Capping machines can generally tighten or otherwise seal a variety of the same closure types. At Liquid Packaging Solutions, a part of the manufacturing process includes running equipment using a packagers products, bottles, caps and other components before delivery whenever possible. More often than not this will include multiple products or variations of products.
The main concern with running multiple products is cross-contamination of the products when they are all run on the same filling machine. At LPS, a clean-in-place, or CIP, system can be added to a liquid filler to assist in protecting against cross-contamination of products. The CIP system allows packagers to quickly and easily flush out the product pathway and tanks when switching from one product to another. This system, when added to a liquid filler, will normally include simple controls on the operator interface screen.
The operator simply connects the liquid to be used for the cleaning process, then selects the number of cycles to run for the CIP process. The touch of a button will start the cleaning, and once completed the next product can be connected to the bulk supply and bottles can once again be filled!
Capping machines can present a different issue for packagers with multiple products. If all of the different products use the same type of closure, a single capping machine may suffice to handle all products, with some simple adjustments made for different sizes. However, unique solutions may be necessary if different closures are used for different products.
Capping machinery is manufactured for specific types of caps. Spindle and chuck cappers, for example, are built to tighten screw-on type closures. Bottle corkers will seal containers with corks, T-corks and similar closures. Other capping machines manage snap on caps, ROPP caps and more. In some cases, a single machine may be manufactured to work with more than one cap type. Spindle and snap cappers can handle both screw-on and snap-on caps. Other custom capping machines may be able to be engineered to seal a combination of caps. But a packager should always keep in mind that using a multitude of cap types can mean more than one capping machine will be necessary. Packagers, and especially those starting new projects, should always involve a machinery manufacturer early in the process to identify just these type of issues.
In many cases, packaging multiple products can be done on a single packaging line, when those products and their packages are similar and vary only in shape or size. However, as the variety of products and packages increase, so may the need for extra machinery to meet demand. LPS is always available to consult and answer questions about machinery and lines to assist in finding the best solution for any given project.