Different Ways to Start the Packaging Process
Whether working by hand with manual labor or using some level of automation, the packaging process cannot begin without making bottles or other containers available to fill, cap, label and otherwise prepare for the shelf. For smaller packagers manually prepping product, the process may be as simple as carrying out a box of containers. However, once a certain level of automation is introduced, hand delivering containers will simply become inefficient.
Different types of loading bottles on to a packaging system are available based on the type of conveyors being used, the speed necessary and the interaction with other machines. One simple solution involves a bottle hopper, which allows a laborer to dump bulk bottles in to a bin. From here, an operator of a packaging machine can remove the bottles from an access point one at a time to place them on a conveyor. Another simple solution involves a loading turntable. Operators on packaging systems with turntables will simply unload empty containers on to the loading table, which in turn delivers the bottles to the main conveyor and the packaging line. Loading turntables can be manufactured with a deadplate or table to assist in the loading process.
One limitation of a turntable, however, is that they only work efficiently with round bottles. For packagers using non-round bottles, or a combination of bottles that includes some square or non-round shapes, alternatives do exist. A laning conveyor can be used to line up bottles in rows. This conveyor includes a loading table and easily adjustable lane dividers. Operators can unload boxes or bags of containers on the table and guide them to the lanes. Each row of bottles is then, like with the turntable, delivered to the main packaging line conveyor. Teh combination of turntables and laning conveyors offers a solution for a vast majority of bottle types, with each accommodating a range of sizes and shapes.
For higher speed applications where manually loading of bottles may actually slow production, a bottle unscrambler can also be placed at the beginning of a packaging line. The unscrambler allows an operator to simply dump bulk bottles in to the machine. From there, the unscrambler will separate and orient the bottles so they are standing correctly to move through rinsing machines, bottle fillers, capping machines and other packaging equipment. These machines not only prepare bottles for the line, but allow an operator the freedom to load the bottles while also monitoring the rest of the line.
While the solutions above will work for a majority of packaging lines and applications, custom loading solutions to start the process are always available. The goals of loading bottles on to a packaging line include doing so in an efficient, safe and reliable manner. Each packaging project will be analyzed in detail to identify the best way to achieve those goals.