Industry Review: Packaging Machinery and Distilled Spirits

The recent boom in distilled spirits stemming from de-regulation has allowed for many unique recipes, flavors and products. Liquid Packaging Solutions takes pride in the fact that we have assisted distillers both large and small in getting their creations to the shelf! Packaging machinery for distilled spirits ranges from fully automatic lines to simple tabletop equipment. Both versions of the equipment can be manufactured to rinse, fill, cork and seal a range of bottle sizes, from 50 to 750ml to unique bottle shapes and sizes.

Rinsing Machinery

Bottle rinsers help to remove dust and debris from bottles prior to introducing the spirits to the bottles. These machines use air, water or product to clean containers by inverting them over a rinse basin. Some heavier or oddly shaped bottles may also use a bottle vacuum that make inverting containers difficult to do efficiently. In the distilled spirits industry, using water or other some other liquid other than product to rinse could lead to minor cross-contamination. For this reason, the most often used rinsers for distilled spirits are either air rinsers or wet rinsers using product to clean bottles.

Semi-automatic rinsing machines require an operator to place bottles and activate the rinsing procedure. These machines will typically rinse anywhere from four to eight bottles at a time, though custom solutions are also available. Automatic rinsing machines index bottles into the rinse area without operator assistance and allow for repeating cycles throughout the production day. A PLC and touchscreen interface allows the operator to easily input settings for any container and recipe screens make changeover from one bottle to another as simple as the touch of a few buttons. Automatic rinsing machines can rinse anywhere from two to sixteen bottles per cycle depending on the need and the bottle sizes.

Filling Machinery

Distilled spirits will almost always be filled using one of two filling machines. Overflow filling machines are ideal for glass bottles or other clear containers, as they fill each bottle to the same level, giving the bottles an aesthetic quality when they reach the shelf. Gravity fillers may also be used to fill bottles based on volume. However, even with a fill-to-level principle, containers will normally fall within acceptable tolerances for the industry.

Like the bottle rinsers, filling machines are available in both semi-automatic and automatic models. Semi-automatic versions, including tabletop filling equipment, require an operator to place bottles under the fill nozzle and initiate the fill. With anywhere from one to six fill heads, tabletop machines can be ideal solutions for craft distillers with a local or regional market. Automatic filling machines will index bottles into position under the fill heads and automatically start the fill once in place. Automatic bottle fillers, as well as semi-automatic fillers manufactured on full frames, can fill up to sixteen bottles per cycle.

Sealing Machinery

Closures for distilled spirits can take on many different forms, and for this reason a number of different machines may be used to seal these products. Corks are a popular closure in the industry, and many distilled spirits will be sealed by pressing a cork in to place and using a capsule or neck band to complete the seal. Some other spirits may use an ROPP capper to seal containers with aluminum caps, while still others might use a simple screw-on type closure.

Whether using a corking machine, ROPP Capper, chuck capper or spindle capping machine, sealing equipment for distilled spirits is also available in both semi-automatic and automatic versions. Like the machinery discussed above, semi-automatic sealing machinery will require more operator interaction than the automatic counterparts. For automatic capping or sealing equipment, a delivery system will be included which allows the cork, cap or aluminum capsule to be delivered without operator assistance as well.

Other equipment, including power conveyor systems for automatic systems, nitrogen purge equipment, labelers and more, may be included in a packaging system for distilled spirits. The equipment included as well as the principles used to rinse, fill, cap and otherwise prepare the spirits will always be determined by the unique needs of each packaging project. To discuss your own distilled spirits packaging project with a Packaging Specialist from Liquid Packaging Solutions, simply call the offices Toll Free at 1-888-393-3693.