Conveyors and Production in the Packaging Process

Whether producing several hundred or tens of thousands of products per day, there is likely a conveyor system that can improve efficiency in your packaging process. Conveyor systems range from straight line, gravity driven roller or skate conveyors to fully automatic power driven conveyors. The ideal system for any unique packaging project will be influenced by the packaging process, production rates and even the product and package being used.

PACKAGING PROCESS

At one extreme, a packaging process may consist of a single person manually filling, capping and labeling bottles. At the other extreme, a packaging system may be built using automatic packaging machinery that performs every function from unscrambling bottles to palletizing packed boxes. Even a manual packaging line can take advantage of conveyors to create efficiency in the packaging process. For instance, an operation using manual labor may use non-power roller conveyors to accumulate containers or boxes. A simple example would be the accumulation of finished product on a roller conveyor that incorporated packing tables along the edge. Once enough product accumulates on the conveyors, laborers can use the packing tables to easily prepare product for shipping. On the other end of the spectrum, power conveyors are a necessity if using automated packaging machinery. An automated packaging line would lose a majority of its efficiency if containers had to be hand delivered between the liquid filler, capping machine and labeling equipment. Only power conveyors make sense in this situation. Of course, there are many alternatives falling in between completely manual and completely automatic packaging systems. The way that a product is packaged in any of these scenarios will help to identify the ideal conveyor system for the packaging line.

PRODUCTION RATES

The packaging equipment necessary to move a hundred units of product per day will likely look very different from the equipment needed to move ten thousand units per day. Arguably, enough labor could be used to manually move either number of product, but overhead must obviously be taken into account. Stripped to the most basic explanation, higher production rates require higher speeds. Higher speeds require faster conveyor systems. While this is somewhat simplified and a generalization, it is true that as production rates increase, so is the likelihood that a power conveyor system will be involved in the packaging process.

There are, however, many facilities that package product with an automated system while packing it using labor. That is to say, the filling, capping, labeling and other similar functions are done by automated packaging machines. Finished individual products may then be boxed or otherwise prepared for shipping by manual labor. In these situations, automatic conveyor systems may deliver product to non-power conveyors to meet production needs. In this way, the process and production required combine to further identify the most useful conveyors available for the unique packaging system.

PRODUCT/PACKAGE

It is probably impossible to even estimate the total number of products available on the market today or even the number of different ways available to package those products. The look and feel of the conveyor system used to package a product will also depend on the product and package chosen to market the product. These two items can effect a packaging line and conveyor system in a number of different ways. For example, an odd shaped container may require slower speeds and additional guides to prevent system jams, spills or other issues. A thick product may require more cycle time to get product into the containers, requiring the conveyor system to make up the difference in delivery to other phases of packaging. Given the number and unique characteristics of products and packages seen in the world today, it would be foolish to select a conveyor system without first considering the product and package.

Taking time to consider each of the items above can greatly assist in choosing not just a conveyor system, but the best conveyor system for an individual packaging process.