Integrating Automatic Packaging Machines for Consistency and Reliability
Integrating Automatic Packaging Machines For Consistency and Reliability
Integration in the packaging industry can probably be defined in several different ways. Many times, integration will refer to bringing together packaging machinery manufactured by several different companies to form a complete, turnkey system. However, integration can also be defined as introducing a new automatic packaging machine to an existing packaging line. As we have discussed before, not all packaging facilities begin with - or make the move to - a fully automatic packaging line all at once. Many start with a single automatic machine, such as a liquid filler, capping machine or labeling machine. Automating a single aspect of a packaging line can still improve efficiency and production rates without completely destroying cash flow. In other words, automating a packaging line one machine at a time can be an economical and effective solution for many packagers.
One of first packaging machines to be automated is often the liquid filler. This is not a surprise given that the filling equipment handles the product, while other packaging machines interact more with the package than the product. Automating the filling process can lead to more consistent fill levels and less product waste while also increasing efficiency and decreasing the likelihood of contamination. Automatic filling machines will almost always use a power conveyor to index bottles in and out of the production area. A touchscreen interface lets the operator of the machine set fill times, index times and other components necessary to reliably and consistently fill the bottles. The lack of human interaction will considerably speed up the process itself. Finally, the product will usually be pulled from a bulk source to a supply tank or directly through the product pathway, keeping the product itself safe from outside contaminants.
One of the biggest benefits of automatic capping machines, like the automatic fillers, is the consistency with which caps can be tightened. Whether screw on caps, snap on caps, ROPP caps or some other type of closure, the capping equipment will be manufactured to apply the same amount of torque or pressure to cap each container in the same manner. Using manual labor to close bottles will often result in loose caps as the result of fatigue or even simple boredom, leading to product spills, possible product contamination or even wariness on the part of customers should a container top be loosened upon purchase. In addition to security, automatic capping machines will almost always increase the speed of the process by running containers through the capper on an automatic power conveyor, requiring an operator to simply supply bulk caps to the machine from time to time. Quick and easy adjustments on most machines allow width and height to be adjusted, meaning a range of bottles and containers can be handled by a single automatic capper.
Once again, speed can be increased with an automatic pressure sensitive labeler through the use of a power conveyor to introduce bottles to the machine. Labeling machines can apply labels in a number of different ways. Depending on the package and the desire of the packager, labels can be placed on the front of a container, wrapped around a container, on the panels of a container or virtually any other format that can be imagined. The pressure sensitive labeler will also be able to apply labels in a consistent and reliable manner, whereas hand labeling bottles can lead to wrinkles, off-center or even misplaced graphics and information. Changing out label rolls and simple adjustments to the labeling machine also allows the equipment to handle different shapes and sizes of bottles and other containers.
As noted, most automatic packaging machines will be equipped with an automatic power conveyor to increase the production speed of the machine. However, most of these packaging machines are manufactured to simply roll up to existing conveyors. A power conveyor system may be the first choice for many packagers, even before the entire system is automated. Placing the conveyor system on the production floor allows product to circulate easily from one packaging station to the next. When the facility is ready to automate one or more steps in the process, the liquid filler, the capping machine, or the labeling equipment can all be brought into the plant and set up right along the conveyor system. As production demands increase, so can the stations that are automated, allowing the packaging line to grow as the company expands until the entire packaging process is automated.
Have questions regarding automatic packaging machinery? Feel free to consult with the Packaging Specialists at Liquid Packaging Solutions.