Packaging Machinery and Social Distancing

As more and more people return to work in the United States, employers must find ways to not only keep employees busy, but also safe. And safe in the workplace has taken on an entirely new meaning in 2020. Temperature checks, hand sanitizer and distance between workers have become key factors in re-opening in many different places. While distancing may not be a problem for all packagers, some may need to rework their packaging line to keep the process and the workers secure.

Automatic packaging lines will likely require less re-structuring to the process than those with manual or semi-automatic components. Typical automatic lines will require a single operator who will handle loading bulk bottles, monitor the line and replenish other bulk components such as caps or labels. Automatic packaging lines are designed to minimize the necessary interface between humans and the machinery during the packaging process.

Still, many packagers will combine some manual tasks with automatic machinery. For instance, a turntable or bottle hopper may be used to load bottles on to the line. And in many cases, manual labor may be used to prepare the products for shipping once the fill, cap and label have been completed. Using items such as loading turntables and accumulating conveyors can help to keep these processes to a single operator or multiple, but distanced operators to keep the process safe.

Semi-automatic and tabletop equipment is normally manufactured for low to medium production facilities and will be operator driven. These machines will require operators to load bottles, activate the process and unload or transfer bottles to another station. In most cases, a single operator can perform a rinse, fill or cap to meet production demand. In those cases where they cannot, a packager will have to look at spacing the tabletop machines or perhaps having one operator load while a second unloads to meet distance guidelines.

Tabletop packaging systems are often manufactured to allow for a rinse, fill and cap in a small area. Packagers may choose to have a single operator perform all three functions (or others depending on the needs of the packager). A single operator in a small area could first rinse bottles, move them to the filler to obtain product and then slide them to the capping machine. If such a situation is not efficient, packagers may be able to space the individual tabletop machines far enough apart to allow for multiple operators to meet demand.

Of course, all automatic and semi-automatic packaging machinery can be custom manufactured to meet the needs of each individual project. For packagers with concerns about social distancing in the workplace, LPS Packaging Specialists are always available to discuss projects and solutions built specifically for individual needs.

LPS is open Monday through Friday from 8AM to 4PM Central Standard Time. Packaging Professionals can be reached toll free at 1-888-393-3693 or by filling out a contact or quote request on any of the LPS website pages.