Packaging Systems - the Container Cleaning Phase

Packaging Systems - The Cleaning Phase

Once bottles have been loaded on to the packaging system and the conveyor system is set up, the bottles are ready to move from packaging machine to packaging machine.  Before reaching the filling equipment, capping machines and labelers, many packaging lines will first run bottles through container cleaning equipment.  In some instances, this is not optional machinery, as certain industries and products require sanitary packaging processes.  For example, food products and pharmaceuticals cannot risk contamination by dust and debris that may exist in the container from the manufacture of the bottles, from transfer of bottles or from simple storage.  One way to fight such contamination is the use of the various container cleaning equipment.


Bottle rinsers most commonly use clean air or water to wash dust and debris from containers.  In some instances, other rinse media may be used, depending on the product and packaging system.  Inverting rinsing machines will index a specified number of containers into the rinse area.  Once in the rinse area, the bottles will be stabilized and inverted over a rinse basin.  Once inverted, jets of air, water or other rinse media are used to wash contaminants out of the individual bottles.  Containers are then returned to the conveyor to move to the next packaging machine, most commonly the filling machine.  Automatic rinsing machines are controlled by a PLC (Programmable Logic Controller) that allows the operator of the machine to adjust rinse time, conveyor system speed and a number of other settings on a simple to use, touch-screen operator interface.  Rinsing machines are also available in semi-automatic and manual models for facilities that have lower production requirements.  


Bottle vacuums use special nozzles to combine the rinsing of containers with the vacuuming of dust and debris from the container.  Bottle vacuums differ from bottle rinsers in that containers are not inverted over a rinse basin.  Instead, containers remain inline on the conveyor system and are indexed into the rinse area.  Special nozzles descend into bottle openings, releasing a blast of air as they lower.  Once the nozzles create a seal on the container, a vacuum begins that removes loosed contaminants from inside the bottle.  Contaminants are stored in an easily removable and cleanable waste reservoir.  Like the automatic rinsers, the bottle vacuum is controlled by a PLC that allows the operator to make adjustments on a touch-screen.  Once rinsed, containers are released from the rinse area and sent down the packaging line.


Larger containers, such as three, four or five gallon water bottles, will normally require unique container cleaning equipment.  For these containers, bottle washers are available.  Some bottle washers for larger containers will utilize a multi-stage rinsing process.  These bottle washers will normally wash, sanitize and then rinse the containers, though other set-ups are available.  On multi-stage bottle washers, the duration for each stage can be set by the operator of the packaging equipment.  Other bottle washers will combine multiple packaging phases - such as rinsing, filling and capping - into one simple machine.  A PLC on these bottle washers allow the operator to adjust rinse and fill times as necessary for different containers.
For unique bottles and containers, custom container cleaning equipment is also available.  Once bottles have been rinsed, vacuumed or otherwise cleansed of dust and debris, they are ready to move to the filling equipment for the introduction of product.  For questions regarding container cleaning, contact a Packaging Specialist toll free at: