Five Common Spindle Capper Issues with Solutions

Spindle capping machines allow for continuous and reliable tightening of closures for many different types of bottles that use screw-on type caps. The machines have many different components that help to deliver caps and stabilize bottles as well as tighten the closures. These components must be fine tuned for each bottle and cap combination to ensure efficient performance, and though they are manufactured to make set up and changeover as simple as possible, troubleshooting for a variety of reasons may be necessary from time to time. Here we present a few of the most common issues regarding spindle capper performance as well as the most likely solutions.

1. Tipping Bottles

From time to time a customer will call to say that bottles are tipping as they move through the capping machine. This normally occurs on initial start up or after a changeover, and more times than not the fix is quite simple, though there can be more than one culprit. First and foremost, packagers must ensure that both the spindle capper and the power conveyor are level on the production floor. If one or either is not level, stabilizing the bottles will become more difficult and can lead to tipping. Similarly, the operator of the machine should check to ensure the conveyor is properly aligned with the machine, so that bottles are not hitting gripper belts or wheels properly. Finally, check the gripper belts and any stabilizer bar that may be in use to ensure there is not too much or too little pressure causing the tipping of bottles.

2. Lifting Bottles

Similar to tipping bottles, lifting bottles can be caused by machinery that is not level or aligned combined with tight gripper belts. Entering the capping area when machines are not aligned or level can mean that the gripper belts will sit at an incline or decline. Though the bottles may not tip, they may lift from the power conveyor belt if this is the situation, especially if a little too much pressure is also applied by the gripper belts. Again, operators should check the level and alignment and adjust as necessary.

3. Product Spillage

Once again, gripper belts may be the cause of the problem is product is spilling out of the bottles during the capping process. This one is pretty straightforward, and will be more likely to occur with softer or more flexible packaging. Tight gripper belts squeeze the bottle as the cap is being tightened, but before the spindle wheels can perform their job, too much pressure will allow product to escape. This may also lead to inconsistency in the tightening process. The first thing to check if product is escaping is the tightness of the gripper belts. In most cases, the simple knob adjustment to release some of the pressure will resolve the issue.

4. Missing or Crooked Caps

Of course one of the most frustrating things that can happen with a capping machine happens when it does not do the job it was built to do. Missing or crooked caps can also be caused by a number of different things. First, the cap delivery system for an automatic capping system should be checked to ensure that bulk caps are available. Caps need only be replaced from time to time, so there have been occasions when the caps simply ran dry. Next, the operator should follow the path of the caps from the bowl or elevator to ensure nothing is impeding their progress to the bottles. Caps are presented with fingers that allow each bottle to strip one closure as it moves into the tightening area. Ensure that the caps are being presented in such a way that they are not placed crooked or tilted on the bottle. Finally, another check of the belts, spindle wheels and stabilizer bar should be done to verify that all are properly adjusted. A trick to solving this issue is to watch the process and attempt to see where the caps are falling off or becoming crooked and adjust appropriately.

5. Damaged Caps

Finally, from time to time, closures are being tightened just fine, but are scuffed or damaged upon leaving the capping machine. The most likely culprits in this scenario are the spindle wheels. It may simply be a case of having the wheels to close together, so that the contact is more than is necessary to secure the lids. However, the operator should also check the contact point and speed of the spindle wheels as well. In addition, spindle wheels are available in various durometers (hardness), and depending on the bottle and cap types, a different durometer may solve the problem!

If you are having trouble with your spindle capper or any other equipment on your packaging line, feel free to call Liquid Packaging Solutions for assistance in resolving the issue. Our service department can be reached at 888-393-3693 or by email at