Packaging in Small Batches - Solutions for Smaller Demand Packagers
While packaging machinery is often about adding speed to a process in an effort to produce more product in a shorter amount of time, the level of speed necessary for different packagers can vary greatly. While large brand name packagers may turn out tens of thousands of product every day, others may not even be producing a thousand over a month long period. Producers of seasonal products, craft beverages or packagers who only serve a local or regional area are just a few examples of those that may not be running packaging machinery on a daily basis. For such packagers, tabletop and semi-automatic equipment offer a unique solution.
Both tabletop and semi-automatic packaging machines can perform almost all of the same functions as their automatic counterparts. This includes rinsing, filling, capping and otherwise preparing product for the shelf. Rinses on semi-automatic equipment can take the form of wet rinses, air rinses or even vacuuming out containers. Semi-automatic and tabletop fills can use level, volume or other filling principles while incorporating one or multiple fill heads to achieve desired results. Capping equipment, like automatic machines, can be manufactured to handle screw-on threaded caps, corks, snap caps, ROPP closures and more.
As to operation, the biggest difference between automatic versions of packaging machinery and their semi-automatic counterparts is the operator interaction. The operator of an automatic machine will typically use the Operator Interface to set up the machine, while also making some pre-production physical adjustments when bottles or product are set up. However, once production begins, the operator of the automatic machine or line will simply monitor the equipment and occasionally add bulk items such as empty bottles or caps to keep the line running.
Operators of semi-automatic machinery will interact with the equipment with each cycle that is run. For instance, if a four head filler is being used to prepare a beverage, the operator of the semi-automatic machine would place four bottles under the fill head, activate the fill with a finger or foot switch and then remove the filled bottles from the machine. This would be done for each instance of filling the bottles, so that the operator will interact with the machine throughout the production day.
The semi-automatic mode of packaging means that equipment will only run as fast as the operator using the machine. Automatic machinery will obviously allow for greater production. But for many packagers, a completely automated packaging line is simply overkill, and semi-automatic equipment allows a solution that will not only provide the necessary efficiency but will also serve as a cost-effective solution as well.
For more information on semi-automatic equipment, or help finding the right machinery for your project, contact a Packaging Specialist at Liquid Packaging Solutions today.