Packaging Machinery Design - Changeover Process and Efficiency
In a number of different products, variety is becoming the norm. From different flavors to a multitude of scents or infusions, products are simply offered in a number of different versions. Even bottled water producers offer product with a splash of flavor added to give consumers more choice. More products, more flavors and more choices often means shorter product runs when it comes to packaging machinery. As packagers offer more product varieties, changing over from one product version to another becomes more and more important, as doing so quickly will increase actual production time.
A great example of the importance of changeover has come recently with the influx of craft breweries and distilleries. A number of these craft artisans offer their customers a multitude of local or regional flavors using different recipes for different drinks. Rather than running one product every day, the craft brewers and distillers are leaning more toward short runs of unique products, getting out multiple variations of their beer or liquor. When it comes to packaging, this means creating new set ups throughout the day for different bottles, products, closures or other aspects of the packaging process. If changeover is not simple, more time may be spent making adjustments and changing over machinery than actually preparing product for the shelf.
At Liquid Packaging Solutions, the ease of adjustments for changeover will always be considered when designing equipment. In most cases, adjustments will be made without the use of tools. On rinsing machines and liquid fillers, for instance, nozzles can typically be adjusted left and right by simply loosening a hand knob and sliding the nozzle left or right, allowing for quick and easy adjustment when bottle widths change. Automatic rinsing and filling machines offer power height adjustments as well, with some semi-automatic machines requiring the use of a hand crank. But in either case, both height and width adjustments are completed in a few simple steps without the use of tools.
Clean-In-Place (CIP) systems on fillers can also help in the changeover process when multiple flavors or scents are being used on a single machine, depending on the type of fill principle being used for the project. The CIP system allows for the product pathway on a filling machine to be cleaned without disassembling parts. The CIP system will run water, product or cleaning liquid through the product pathway of a machine, using spray balls or other methods to clean tanks without disassembling. This quick method of avoiding cross-contamination also helps minimize downtime for changeover.
Capping machine changeover will also depend on the type of closure and capper being used for any project. However, cappers are also designed for quick and easy changeover. Spindle cappers, which use matched sets of spinning disks to tighten caps and belts to hold bottles steady, allow adjustments with just the turn of dials, wheels or power height switches, both widening, raising or lowering the components. Other capping machines use similar adjustments for the capping and stabilizing components.
Rinsers, fillers, cappers and all LPS equipment will be both designed and manufactured to keep changeover and adjustment time to a minimum for packagers that work with flavors, scents and other product variables. Efficient changeover procedures are a part of an efficient overall process, minimizing downtime and maximizing the output of finished product.
Questions about the design or changeover procedure of a specific machine or packaging line? Contact a Packaging Specialist at LPS to discuss your project or learn more about specific equipment.