Getting Things Moving - An Overview of Power Conveyors for Packaging Lines
While it is not impossible to automate packaging without a power conveyor system, it is also not the norm. Many automatic packaging lines use power conveyors not only to transfer bottles and containers from one machine to another, but also to load and accumulate them at the beginning and end of the line. Different types of conveyors can be used for different projects as well, depending on factors such as space, products, containers and more.
At the beginning of a packaging line, a loading or laning conveyor may be used to present bottles to the main packaging system. Laning conveyors will typically be used as an alternative for non-round containers that are hard to control and release using a turntable. Laning conveyors will include a loading table that allows the operator to quickly move bottles from cases, bags or other packing materials. These bottles are manually released to adjustable lane guides that then present rows of containers to the main conveyor system to move bottles through packaging stages such as filling, capping and labeling. This type of conveyor is one of many options for getting empty bottles on to the packaging system.
The main conveyor system for a packaging line can take many different forms and designs, depending on the needs of the packager. Low profile machines are ideal for when space is very limited and a few inches can make a difference. Sanitary style conveyor systems can assist in clean up and maintenance of a system as a whole. C-frame conveyor systems offer sturdy support for moving just about any product with an enclosed return belt as well. Belt widths and materials can vary, again depending on factors such as those mentioned above. While most of the conveyors manufactured at Liquid Packaging Solutions will be built using stainless steel, other construction materials for main conveyor systems, such as HDPE when moving acids or bleaches, can be used as well.
Accumulation conveyors can be designed in different ways as well, while also serving different functions. Accumulation conveyors can be used at the end of a packaging line to, as the name suggests, gather product for preparation to ship. These conveyors can be used to pack products in to boxes or other conveyors prior to palletizing or otherwise organizing products to get them to the consumer. Accumulation conveyors may include packing tables or other components to assist in the process as well.
However, product accumulation can occur anywhere on a packaging line. For example, a packager may not be fully automated. Filled bottles may be gathered to allow for semi-automatic or manual capping or sealing. Product may also be accumulated to allow a product to set after being heated for the fill. Products like candles are filled as a liquid but then cool to form the candle product offered to consumers. Cooling conveyors collect product while continuing to move them, on what could be termed an extended conveyor, ensuring that product or containers are not damaged by being capped too soon after heating. These conveyors can be designed as one long stretch of conveyor, as a serpentine conveyor or even as a multi-level serpentine conveyor to allow for the extra time. Some cooling conveyors may also include a fan system or other component to speed up the process of allowing the product to set.
Though the main purpose of conveyor systems on a packaging line is movement, these machines can help with other solutions as well. To learn more about the different types of conveyors and designs offered by LPS, visit the Conveyors and Turntables section of the LPS website.