Container Shape and the Effect on Loading a Packaging Line

Simply walking through your local grocery store provides ample evidence of the many different container shapes and sizes available for different products. From typical sixteen-ounce beverage bottles to quart and gallon bottles for products ranging from laundry detergent to food, beverage and oil, liquid products can be housed in a range of containers. These different container shapes and sizes lead to several different methods for getting empty bottles onto a packaging system.

Loading turntables provide a great solution for putting empty bottles on a packaging line. These simple machines can be seen on automatic and semi-automatic lines, as well as systems that use a combination of both levels of automation. Empty bottles are simply placed on the turntable top and will be guided to the takeaway conveyor. Turntable tops can vary in diameter to handle bottle sizes from large to small. However, the loading turntable does have one crucial limitation in that it often will not work well with non-round bottles.

For non-round products, a similar manner of loading empty bottles onto a packaging line can be done with a laning conveyor. Rather than a turntable, this complementary conveyor will sit perpendicular to the main power conveyor system. The operator will have a loading table that leads into a wide conveyor belt separated into lanes. Bottles can be loaded into each of the lanes, which will then present lines of empty containers to the main power conveyor. Lanes will usually be equal to the cycle count for the various machines, such as eight lanes for bottles that lead into an eight head filling machine. Using lanes removes the round bottle limitation and allows for the loading of square or other uniquely shaped containers.

While loading turntables and laning conveyors will be used for a majority of packaging projects, there do exist other ways to get containers ready for filling, capping and labeling. Some lines may use a bottle hopper that allows an operator to load bulk containers into the hopper and then pull them out as needed to place on the conveyor system. Those with extremely high production demand may also use a bottle unscrambler. The bottle unscrambler adds speed by allowing the operator of the line to again dump bulk bottles into a hopper, but the unscrambler then continues the work by orienting the container and setting it on the conveyor.

For most packaging projects, more than one of the above loading methods will be available to the packager. The type of loading used will depend on the production demand, other equipment used on the line, the preference of the packager and other factors. Custom loading systems can always be engineered where unique bottles or circumstances call for a truly innovative solution. To learn more about bottle loading options or for help determining which option is best for your own packaging line, contact Liquid Packaging Solutions today!