Keeping the Automatic Bottle Capper Consistent

Keeping the Automatic Bottle Capper Consistent

The goal to be achieved by an automatic bottle capper is continuous and consistent seals on each and every bottle that passes through the capping machine.  If not continuous, the efficiency of the packaging line is lost.  If not consistent, a whole host of issues can arise, from spoiled product to a lack of consumer trust.  Without a reliable bottle capper, a good product can suffer great damage.  So how do manufacturers of automatic capping machinery ensure this consistency?

The key to peak performance of an automatic bottle capper lies, in large part, in the way the lid and bottle are supported through the capping process. This begins with the actual set up of the packaging machinery on the production floor.  Specifically, both the capping equipment and the power conveyors transferring the bottles must be placed level on the production floor to avoid allowing bottles to reach the tightening components - be it spindle disks, chuck heads, snap belts or any other apparatus - in a precarious position.  The slightest tilt or uneven positioning can cause erratic behavior and inconsistent capping.  While leveling a packaging machine is a relatively simple task, it is only the first step toward achieving the ideal performance of the machine.

The correct positioning of the cap, for instance, starts before it ever reaches the bottle capping machine.  Automatic cappers will use sorting devices such as elevators and vibratory bowls as an orienter of the caps.  These sorting machines deliver caps to a chute, which eventually passes the caps on to the bottle.  To understand the work put into keeping the cap in the correct position, one need only follow it from the chute to the bottle.

The chute itself will consist of adjustable rails that will support the cap, usually on the top and sides, as it makes its way to the bottle.  Once the cap reaches the end of the chute, it will come to rest in a pair of metal fingers where it will await the next bottle to pass under the chute.  The fingers must be adjusted to both "catch" the cap and hold it in the same position for each passing bottle.  The bottle will hit the edge of the cap and strip it from the chute just before the combination of the two enter the capping area.  

Once the cap is stripped from the chute, many projects will use a tongue and/or stabilizer bar to ensure that the cap does not slip, slide or otherwise shift on the bottle before the tightening process begins.  Neither the tongue nor the stabilizer bar will normally require adjustment outside of a simple tweak of the height.  These two tools of the bottle capper apply pressure to the top of the cap to help avoid cross threading once the tightening begins as well.

To relieve some tension at this point, it should be noted that the position of the fingers and the adjustment of the chute and tongue will normally be completed by the manufacturer of the capping machine, though some adjustment to these components will be necessary where more than one cap is used by a packager.  In these cases, settings can usually be marked on the machinery to make changeover as easy as possible.

Of course, the bottle must also be kept stabile to ensure consistent capping.  The guide rails on power conveyors perform this task right up to the point where the bottle enters the tightening area.  From there, on capping machines such as spindle cappers or snap cappers, gripper belts will perform the same task as the conveyor system guide rails, offering support to keep the bottle from tipping or spinning.  Some capping machines, such as chuck and ROPP capping equipment, may use a star wheel rather than gripper belts, taking one bottle into each groove on the wheel to help stabilize the container during tightening.

The actual tightening components referred to above will also play a large part in keeping a bottle capper consistent, but these settings too will be completed by the manufacturer in most cases and the operators of the bottle cappers can easily be trained to make simple height and width adjustments when necessary.  Proper manufacture and set up of capping machinery can not only ease the burden of production demands, but also ensure that a safe, protected product reaches the consumer.