Packaging Machinery - Automated Systems and Line Direction

Packaging Machinery - Automated Systems and Line Direction

When setting up an automatic packaging system, many people new to packaging may not consider line direction an important factor in the design. Though only one factor to be considered when setting up a packaging line, line direction is a factor that can be easy to overlook or ignore. Spending even a short time on line direction when initially planning the packaging line can save literally hundreds of hours of labor over the long run.

When manufacturing machinery such as air rinsers, wet rinsers, liquid fillers, capping equipment and more, each machine can be manufactured to have bottles index in from the left and out to the right or the other way around.  If the automatic packaging system is designed to work in a straight line, each and every machine on the line will be manufactured with the same line direction.  Even on a horseshoe type packaging line, the machines may all use the same line direction (imagine they are all positioned on the outside of the power conveyors, allowing for a work space in the center of the horseshoe).  So why pay any attention to line direction at all?  Just knowing which way the bottles will move should be enough right?  Actually, a little more consideration should go into this decision.

Imagine a production floor that is 100 yards long and 50 yards wide, with a loading dock at the west end of the facility.  The packager has set up a production line that runs from the west end of the building to the east end of the building.  The line consists of a bottle rinser, piston filling machine, spindle capping machine, automatic wrap labeler and a power conveyor system.  Packing tables have been added to the power conveyor at the east end of the building to allow manual laborers to pick finished product from the conveyor and pack them into boxes.  Once a box is packed, it is placed on a pallet at the end of the line.

At first glance, this seems like a fairly typical packaging system, and in all honesty, might be the best system for the facility.  However, before setting up a straight, inline packaging system, the packager should have considered other options.  For example, the horseshoe design mentioned above could have brought the packing stations right back to the loading dock.  By setting up the power conveyor system in a \"U\" shape, the packager may have been able to eliminate the need to haul pallet after pallet across the entire production floor.  While this may seem like an insignificant time saver, imagine each pallet takes a single minute to move, and the company produces a pallet every 30 minutes.  Over the course of 265 days, or approximately one working year, the company could have saved 4,240 minutes, or over seven hours of labor, with one simple adjustment.  

By spending some time and thought on the initial layout and line direction of your automatic packaging system, you truly can make your packaging line more efficient and cost effective.  While a design that is less than ideal will still work, there is no sense putting your business in a hole before it even begins.  If you have questions regarding packaging machinery, line directions or line design, please do not hesitate to contact one of our specialists toll free at 1-888-393-3693.