Expanding Packaging Lines - Options
As we have stated before, many companies begin their packaging lines with less than completely automated turnkey systems. More commonly, packagers begin with equipment that will make their own unique process more efficient and cost-effective, and build on that system until the necessary level of automation is achieved. In other words, not every packager will always use or even aspire to a system that is completely automated. At Liquid Packaging Solutions, to the extent possible, we build equipment that will grow with a company, allowing expansion and upgrades until that necessary level is reached. Below are a few examples of how we manufacture equipment to achieve that goal.
Power Conveyor Systems
A power conveyor will usually be included with most automated packaging machinery, including rinsers, filling machines and capping equipment. Conveyor systems can be upgraded simply by adding to the existing system. For example, a ten foot stainless steel conveyor to could adding to an existing ten foot conveyor to make room for additional machinery, packing or other packaging processes. Curved sections can be fabricated for systems that have unique space requirements and simple dead plates can be added to move bottles or containers from one section to the next. Expanding conveyor systems is probably one of the easiest modifications to make to a packaging system.
Rinsing and Filling Machines
There are different ways to upgrade both rinsing and filling machinery. The first is to simply add more rinse or fill heads to the existing machine. Adding two heads to a machine with two existing heads pretty much doubles the output of the machine, allowing for higher production rates. This can be accomplished on both semi-automatic and automatic machines. However, some semi-automatic equipment may also be manufactured on the same frame as automatic equipment, allowing the machine to be modified in the future, roll up to a power conveyor and begin automatic production once demand requires the same. Other components of machinery may be replaced or added as well, such as different fill heads for different products, in order to expand the ability of the machinery, though these types of modifications are not as popular and not even always possible.
Due to the fact that most capping machines are manufactured to tighten or otherwise seal a particular type of closure it will only be on rare occasions that components of capping machines may be added, or change parts provided, to handle a wider range of caps or closures. But just like the rinsers and fillers, semi-automatic capping machines can be built on the same frame as automatic equipment, allowing for an upgrade to automatic production as the company grows in the future, thus extending the life of the machine. Limitations arise when different closure types or an extremely wide range of cap or closure sizes are used, but custom machinery is also available for unique capping and sealing projects.
Additional Packaging Machinery
Most packagers start with rinsing, filling, capping and labeling equipment, or some combination of these four processes. Arguably, performing these four packaging chores will take more time than others, though that is also dependent on the product, bottle, closure, label and other factors. But even companies beginning with one or more of these machines may expand to include other equipment in the future, to save both time and labor. Bottle unscramblers may replace manual loading to speed up the beginning of the process on a packaging line. Nitrogen purge systems may be used to extend the shelf life of a product as demand increases or market expands. Case erectors, case tapers, pallet wrappers and other packaging equipment may also be used to speed up shipping preparation as product output grows.
Not every packager will need or want all of the equipment mentioned in this article, while others will use machines we did not touch upon. The solution for every packager will differ and at LPS our job is to identify those unique needs and wants and find a lasting solution for the individual company.