Making Sense of Packaging Machine Sensors

Making Sense of Packaging Machine Sensors

Packaging Equipment, especially fully automated packaging equipment, works with minimal operator intervention in large part because of the sensors used on the machinery.  Sensors can be found on numerous different packaging machines, including semi-automatic equipment, doing just as many different jobs.  


Both filling machines and rinsing machines will use sensors for similar functions.  These packaging machines work on a cycle, either a fill cycle or a rinse cycle.  Each cycle will include a set number of bottles being filled or rinsed.  A sensor will be used to count the bottles as they enter the fill or rinse area.  Once the sensor counts the appropriate number of bottles, the fill cycle or rinse cycle will begin.  In addition, both automatic filling machines and automatic rinsers will often inlude anti-jam sensors downline from the actual filler or rinser.  These eyes will act as a shut off for the filling equipment or rinsing machine should bottles begin to accumulate downstream.  The packaging machine will finish the current cycle and stop production until the back up clears, avoiding additional problems if a machine is down or a spill has occurred further down the packaging line.

On liquid fillers, a sensor may be used to alert the operator of the packaging line, or even a supply pump on the line, when product is running low in the filler tank.  These alerts ensure that product will always be available to the filling machine and production will continue to run smoothly.


Automatic capping machines will often include automatic cap delivery systems.  Sensors may be used on the automatic cap delivery system to pause the delivery of caps when the chute portion of the capper is full, avoiding pressure that could lead to jams or incorrectly oriented caps.  Some automatic capping machines may also utilize a rejection station.  A sensor is used to determine whether a cap is present or missing.  If the cap is missing, the bottle will be moved off of the main conveyor of the packaging line to a rejection station.  

Semi-automatic capping machines will often use a sensor to ensure correct positioning of a bottle in a capping nest.  A semi-automatic capping machine may require an operator to place a cap and bottle into a specific area of the capper.  Once positioned, a sensor will read the bottle in place and the capping head will spring into action and secure the bottle and cap.


Labeling machines also use sensors for a number of different reasons.  Two of the most common sensors used on a labeler are the label sensor itself and a low label warning sensor.  The label sensor ensures that only one label at a time is dispensed by the packaging machine.  Normally, a web of labels will be manufactured with a gap between the labels, or with a distinguishing mark on each label. The label sensor reads the gap or the mark and releases one label at a time.

A low label warning sensor simply alerts the operator of the packaging system that the time is approaching to add a new web of labels to the machine.  Similar to the low product warning of the filling machinery, this sensor helps to ensure that production runs smooth and uninterrupted.

Of course, sensors can be used for a variety of different reasons on packaging machinery.  Each packaging system will be designed with the product, package and desires of the packager in mind.  If you would like to learn more about sensors, rinsing machines, bottle fillers or capping equipment, call a Packaging Specialist toll free today at 1-888-393-3693.