Industry Review: Packaging Machinery for Foods & Beverages
Unlike some other industries where the same equipment will be used for a majority of the products, foods and beverages cover a wide range of liquids - thick to thin, foamy, products with particulates - as well as a variety of bottles and containers. For this reason, the equipment used to fill, cap, label and otherwise prepare foods and beverages will depend in large part on the actual products and packaging, and the equipment used can vary greatly from project to project.
Given the fact that foods and beverages are consumed by the end users, packagers of foods and beverages will always work to keep their processes sanitary. Part of the sanitary process may include adding a rinsing machine to the packaging line. Rinsing machines help to remove dust and debris from bottles that can accumulate during shipping, storage or even the manufacturing of the bottle. These machines can invert bottles over a rinse basin or vacuum debris from the bottles as they sit on a conveyor belt. While the inverting rinsers are the more popular choice, some containers simply make the inverting process inefficient, so that both types of rinsing machines may be found in the industry. For smaller packagers of foods and beverages with lower production demands, semi-automatic rinsing machines are also available.
Air rinsing machines are also more popular in the Food and Beverage Industry as well, as the air will not cause the risk of cross-contamination in the bottles with water or other liquid cleaning solution. Again though, given the wide range of products in the industry, some wet rinsing machines will also be found on food or beverage packaging lines.
Certain filling machines work better for filling thin, lower viscosity products. Other filling machines are more efficient at pushing thick, viscous liquids into bottles and containers. As food and beverage products can range from thin beverages to thick sauces or pastes, each and every filling machine may be found in the industry.
As a general rule, overflow fillers provide a good solution for thinner, free-flowing products as well as products that foam. Gravity fillers provide a volume based alternative for thin products as well. Thicker foods and beverages will typically be packaged using either a pump or piston filler to add a little push to the flow. Each type of filling machine can be manufactured to run automatically or with the help of an operator in a semi-automatic manner, again providing a solution for packagers both large and small.
As with any industry, the capping machine used on a packaging project will be determined in large part by the type of closure being used for the bottles. In the Food and Beverage industry, many products are closed and sealed using a continuous-thread cap, also known as a screw-on cap. For this reason, both spindle capping machines and chuck cappers are popular choices for food and beverage packagers.
But once again given the range of products in the industry, they are not the only capping machines that will be encountered. Some products may use corks, snap on caps or even ROPP caps to seal bottles and containers. Just like rinsers and fillers, capping machines are available in different automation levels to serve the needs of all companies preparing these products.
The best solution for foods or beverage packaging can only be determined once the products and containers are available and the demand for the product can be estimated. For this reason, a thorough analysis of each individual project is necessary to discover the best machinery and method for preparing the products. At Liquid Packaging Solutions, representatives are always available to discuss projects and help packagers discover the best solution for each unique project.