Container Cleaning Equipment - Levels of Automation

Container Cleaning Equipment - Levels of Automation

Like almost any piece of packaging equipment, the production requirements for a packaging project will have an effect on the type of container cleaning equipment necessary for that project.  Automatic bottle vacuums for low production projects simply do not make sense economically, while a manual wet rinser or air rinsing machine for mass production would destroy packaging line efficiency.  The right container cleaning equipment exists for any packaging project, it just takes some simple analysis to ensure the packaging machine fits the packaging project.

For lower production facilities that manually package product or even use semi-automatic packaging machines like tabletop liquid fillers and capping equipment, manual and semi-automatic rinsing machines will likely achieve the intended goals.  Manual machines will normally rinse anywhere from one to six containers at a time, though other configurations are possible.  These rinsing machines require an operator to hand place bottles or containers over the rinse heads.  Typically, a foot switch will activate the rinse cycle, which can be pre-set by the same operator to rinse for a specific period of time.  Once the rinse is complete, the operator will remove the bottles and send them to the next packaging phase, normally the filling equipment.  

Semi-automatic rinsing machines, or bottle vacuums, may be manufactured on the same frame, or very similar frames, as automatic container cleaning equipment would be built.  The main difference between the semi-automatic machines and automatic container cleaning equipment is the bottle indexing found on automatic equipment.  On the semi-automatic machines, operators will still be required to move containers into position under the rinse nozzles.  Semi-automatic machines have two main advantages over manual machines.  First, depending on the container, they may allow for the rinsing of up to sixteen bottles at once.  Second, many semi-automatic rinsing machines may be upgraded to automatic packaging equipment in the future with minor modifications, including the addition of a controller, an automatic conveyor and an indexing system.

Automatic wet rinsers, air rinsers and bottle vacuums are normally a part of a completely automated packaging system for high production facilities and will include an automatic conveyor system.  Once containers are introduced to the conveyor system, via an unscrambler, loading turntable or other method, the automatic container cleaning equipment will be one of the first machines on the packaging system to be visited.  The indexing system on automatic rinsing machines will use sensors to allow the correct number of containers to enter the rinse area for each cycle run.  All rinse, delay and duration times involved in the rinse cycle will be pre-loaded into the programmable logic controller (PLC) prior to running production.  Therefore, once the machine is on, rinse cycles will continue one after another until the machine is turned off or there are no more containers to clean.  The PLC on an automatic container cleaning machine will include more than just the delays and durations as well.  These PLC's allow for the storage of recipes, meaning that the specific settings for a container can be saved and pulled up at a later date, saving time on both set-up and container changeover.  The controllers also include an alarm screen to aid in troubleshooting and can incorporate controls for auxillary machinery such as conveyors and turntables.

Of course, other factors besides production requirements also play a part in choosing the correct container cleaning equipment.  Large bottles, such as three, four and five gallon containers, may require specialized rinsing machines.  Odd shaped bottles and space requirements may also lead to the necessity of custom container cleaning equipment.  To learn more about all of the rinsing equipment manufactured by Liquid Packaging Solutions, or to discuss your container cleaning requirements with a Packaging Specialist, contact LPS toll free today at: