How to Choose the Correct Container Cleaning Equipment

How to Choose the Correct Container Cleaning Equipment

Container cleaning machines generally help to keep the entire packaging process more sanitary by minimizing the potential for certain types of product contamination.  Before bottles are introduced to a packaging line, there exist several possibilities for dust, debris and other contaminants to become trapped inside those bottles.  For instance, the production of glass bottles may leave some residue inside the bottle.  Containers might also become dirty while in transit to the production plant or even while sitting in a warehouse waiting to be used on the packaging line.  Container cleaning equipment - bottle rinsers and bottle washers - work to remove any such buildup of debris before product is introduced by the filling machine.  In searching for the right washing or rinsing machine for a specific project, the following items should be considered.

1.  Rinse or Wash Type

Container cleaning equipment can use clean air, clean water or some other type of cleaning solution to complete the rinse or wash.  Depending on the needs and desires of the individual packaging project, the inside of the bottle, the outside of the bottle, or both may be cleaned.  Air rinsing machines will often use ionized air or curtains to control static electricity and ensure that bottles and containers are thoroughly cleansed.  Wet rinsing machines may add a drying tunnel or device between the container cleaning equipment and the liquid filler.  Bottle washers, normally used for larger containers, may use several stages to rinse, wash and sanitize the inside and outside of the bottles.  The type of rinse or wash used for any specific project will depend on the individual needs of that project taking both the product and the bottle or container into account.  

2.  Bottles and/or Containers Handled

As we have discussed previously, most packagers will not limit themselves to a single bottle or container.  Even if a packager has only one product, that product will be filled into sample sized containers, normal containers, family sized containers and more.  A packager will want to ensure that the container cleaning machine can handle the entire range of bottles or containers being used.  Many rinsing machines will invert bottles over a rinse basin, allowing dirt, debris and other contaminants to wash out of the bottle and into the basin below.  However, both tiny and extremely large bottles (as well as odd shaped bottles, tall bottles and some others) can present problems when grabbing and stabilizing bottles for the inverting process.  Other options exist, such as the inline bottle vacuum, when such issues arise.  A bottle vacuum removes the need to take the containers from the power conveyor in order to complete the rinse.  Instead of inverting bottles, the vacuum machine uses dual action nozzles to first blast the container with clean air, then vacuum out the dust and debris into an easily cleanable waste reservoir.  The range of packages used will help determine which cleaning machine is the best solution for any given packaging project. 

3.  Production Rates

Air rinsers, wet rinsers, bottle washers and bottle vacuums can all be manufactured with various levels of automation.  Production demands will help a packager choose the correct container cleaning equipment for the specific project.  From rinsing machines that require manual labor to place and remove bottles to fully automated container cleaning equipment, machines exist for virtually any level of production.  But when choosing the correct machine for the production demands of a project, the packager must also keep the future in mind.

4.  Machine Useful Life 

Like liquid fillers and capping machines, container cleaning equipment can be manufactured in such a way that the machinery can be upgraded in the future.  Semi-automatic rinsing machines can incorporate a PLC and indexing system to one day become fully automatic machinery.  Fully automatic rinsers can be manufactured so that additional rinse heads can easily be added in the future.  The ability to upgrade existing equipment extends the useful life of the machinery and stops a packager from having to buy completely new packaging machinery at the first sign of growth.  The packager simply needs to communicate with the manufacturer of such machinery to know and understand the limits of the cleaning machines being offered.

5.  Ability to Integrate

Finally, as with all packaging equipment, a packager must consider the ability of the equipment to integrate with current machinery or other equipment to be procured in the future.  Most automatic rinsing machines will be manufactured on a frame that will roll up to virtually any power conveyor and be ready to run production.  Manual and semi-automatic rinsing machines will have production limits that may make integration with more advanced packaging lines difficult, or simply completely inefficient.  Again, communicating with the machine manufacturer and understanding the limits of the packaging equipment will help a packager choose the best solution for the project at hand. 
The same caveat applies to container cleaning equipment that has been repeated for most of the other packaging equipment discussed on this site.  Each project will be unique in its own way.  Though the points laid out above will lead a packager in the right direction when choosing bottle rinsers and washers, other considerations will undoubtedly exist from packaging line to packaging line.  Combining the knowledge and experience of machinery manufacturers with the packagers own unique knowledge of his or her project is the only way to reach the ideal solution for any container cleaning project.