Packaging Systems - Cleaning Containers

Now that containers are loaded on to the main power conveyor system, they can be delivered to the individual packaging machines, each with a different purpose or task to be completed. Every packaging system will include different equipment, with some including only a couple of machines and others with machines from unscrambling to palletizing. Today we will look at container cleaning equipment, which, while not found on every system, is popular in certain industries such as Food and Beverage, Pharmaceuticals and others where even the most minor product contamination can be problematic.

Container cleaning machinery, as noted above, removes dust, debris and other contaminants from bottles or other containers prior to product being introduced. The source of the debris can stem from production of the bottles to transportation, storage or any combinnation of these and other causes. The type of container cleaning machine used for any packaging system will depend in large part on the container or containers being run, but will also be determined by space, production speed and other factors as well.


Arguably the most popular of the container cleaning machines are bottle rinsers. Automatic bottle rinsing machines will typically clamp indexed bottles and invert them over a rinse basin. Once inverted, the machine can use air, water or other liquid to quickly rinse the inside of the container, loosening debris and dust and allowing it to run out of the container into the basin. Rinse times can be set by the operator of the machine, and once completed, the bottles are returned to the power conveyor system to move to the next packaging stage, which will usually be the filling machine, ensuring no time exists for bottles to once again accumulate contaminants. For those with lower production demands, semi-automatic bottle rinsers are also available, though they require the operator to invert and place containers, begin the rinse and remove the containers upon completion.


Unlike bottle rinsing machines, bottle vacuums do not require containers to be inverted to remove dust and debris. These machines provide good alternatives for containers that are not conducive to clamping and flipping. For example, with extremely tall or oddly shaped containers it may be difficult to stabilize and turn the bottles without slippage or damage. Instead, bottle vacuums use a special nozzle to clean containers while still on the conveyor system. The nozzle blasts the inside of the container with air while also creating a seal over the container opening. Once sealed, the machine vacuums the loosened dust and debris from the container. Just like rinsing machines, bottle vacuums can also be manufactured as semi-automatic machines, but will require more work from the operator of the machine.


In general terms, bottle washers will also clean the outside of containers. These machines can come in handy when bottles are reused on a regular basis. The most common use for bottle washers are the cleaning of three and five gallon refillable water bottles. These machines are sometimes combined with other tasks such as sanitizing or even filling and capping to create a small footprint packaging system for large containers.

In addition to the more common machines found above, container cleaning equipment, like almost all other packaging machines, can be custom manufactured to handle unique packaging projects. For each project, the containers, production demand, space available and other factors will be used to determine the best cleaning solution. To learn more about container cleaning, browse the bottle rinsing machines and bottle washers section of the Liquid Packaging Solutions website.