Five Considerations when Choosing a Capping Machine

Five Considerations When Choosing a Capping Machine

For those new to the packaging industry, it may come as a surprise that the factors mentioned yesterday for choosing a filler will be very similar to the factors we discuss today regarding capping machines.  The focus of these questions, however, will move from the product itself to the package - the bottle and cap - when considering important questions regarding bottle capping machines.  As we continue to move down the packaging line, here are some things to think about when looking for the perfect capper.   

1. Which machine will work best with my cap type?

First and foremost, the capping machine chosen must be suitable for the actual cap type being used.  Screw type caps are a popular choice for packagers using plastic bottles.  However, some packagers will use snap caps, ROPP caps, plugs, corks or other less popular closures.  Screw type caps will almost always be tightened by spindle capping machines or chuck capping equipment.  Given that screw caps are the most popular caps in use today, these two capping machines are probably the two most popular pieces of capping equipment in use today.  However, using a spindle capper or chuck capper with a snap on cap will not do wonders for production rates or efficiency.  In other words, know your cap and bottle before searching for capping equipment and match the machinery to the cap type chosen.  

2. Which machine will work best with my cap sizes?

Once the cap type has been chosen, the packager must also consider the range of caps that will be used.  If a packager is using a screw on cap with a wide range of bottle and cap sizes, the spindle capping machine may, in many situations, be a better choice simply due to the quickness and ease of changeover.  For packagers of vials and tubes, even with a range of cap types or sizes, a chuck capper may be the better choice where the chuck and chuck insert can handle the range used.  Choosing a capping machine that can handle not only the cap type but also the range of caps used will result in more up-time for the packaging machine and more product sealed and ready to ship to the customer.

3. What production rate do I need to achieve?

Deciding what production rates are necessary will help to choose the automation level of the capping machine for the specific packaging line.  Facilities will low to medium production rates may not require completely automatic capping machines.  Instead, semi-automatic machinery or even tabletop capping equipment may get the job done.  Of course, just as we considered future growth when discussing filling machines, a packaging facility must consider future growth when purchasing a capper as well.  

4. Can the machine handle increased production in the future?

Also like filling machines, capping machines can be manufactured to allow for upgrades in the future.  Tabletop capping equipment will eventually hit a ceiling as far as production rates.  However, other semi-automatic capping machines can be manufactured using an automatic frame.  The semi-automatic capper would require manual labor to place the cap on the bottle before introducing the combination to the machine.  However, when demand for the product grows, these semi-automatic machines can be revamped to function automatically.  Generally, the addition of a control box and a cap delivery system will turn some semi-automatic cappers into fully functional, automatic capping machines.  Packagers must consider future growth and plan accordingly when choosing their initial bottle capping equipment.

5. Can the machine be integrated with other packaging machinery?

Again, tabletop capping machinery will not roll up to a power conveyor and work with automatic rinsing machines, automatic fillers, labelers and other similar equipment.  Many of the semi-automatic and automatic machines, however, will roll right up to an existing conveyor.  Many facilities automate packaging lines one function at a time.  If an automatic packaging system is a future goal, the packager needs to ask whether the equipment will continue to serve the intended needs as other packaging machines are added to the line. 
Of course, each and every packaging project will have individual needs.  Some lines may require other sealing equipment like induction sealers, neck banders or other tamper evident seals.  Additionally, cost is almost always a factor for packaging equipment.  The above questions will set both experienced and inexperienced packagers on the correct path to choosing the best capping solution for their packaging project.  From there, working together with a packaging professional will ensure that the machinery meets all of the unique needs of the specific project.