Packaging Systems Running Multiple Products and Packages

Packaging Systems Running Multiple Products and Packages

While it does happen, very few packagers will use one bottle and one product for every production run.  Instead, different bottle sizes, different bottle types and, on some occasions, even different products will be run on the same packaging line.  The challenge for such projects lies in finding the ideal machinery to handle each and every option to be run by the packager by using the built in flexibility of the packaging equipment.

Power Conveyor Systems

Generally, power conveyors must be able to handle the full weight of the containers once they are through the filling machine.  In addition, the width of the system must be able to accommodate the smallest and largest bottles.  The conveyor frame and supports will be used to handle the weight while adjustable guide rails can be moved to handle both small and large bottles.  The rails will also offer support for taller or oddly shaped bottles.  Finally, the conveyor construction material must be compatible with all products being run on the packaging system.  Normally, stainless steel conveyors can handle all products, but other materials, such as HDPE, can be used when harsh chemicals or other products are being packaged.

Rinsing Machinery

Many automatic rinsing machines will invert bottles or containers over a rinse basin to remove dust, debris or other contaminants.  The bottle grabbers, used to secure the containers as they are inverted, must be able to accommodate each and every bottle being used.  This can lead to an extended rinse area where larger bottles must be cleaned.  The rinse nozzles will also be adjustable, allowing the operator to move the nozzles to handle different bottle sizes.  In some cases, a bottle vacuum may be used where the inverting of the containers is simply not feasible.  The bottle vacuum will loosen debris with a blast of clean air before sealing the container and vacuuming out debris.

Liquid Fillers

Like rinsing machines, liquid fillers must be able to accommodate the smallest and largest bottles.  For this reason, the nozzle bar must leave room for the adjustable nozzles themselves to be positioned to handle each container size.  The nozzle size used must also be able to fill the smallest bottle, the largest bottle and all in between.  With wide bottle ranges, nozzles may even be changed out for different runs, though this is not typical.  In addition, multiple products can often mean cleaning the holding tanks and the product pathway to avoid cross contamination between products.  Clean in Place systems on filling equipment can help with such cleaning by avoiding disassembly and reducing downtime.  A clean in place system will run hot water or cleaning solution through the entire product pathway and supply tank to prepare the system for the next product.

Capping Equipment

Of course, the type of capping equipment included in a packaging system will depend on the type of cap being used on the bottles or containers.  Single capping machines can handle a range of cap sizes and, in some cases, cap types as well.  For example, a spindle capper can handle different types of screw on caps (flat, flip top, trigger sprayer).  Simple adjustments to the spindle wheels, gripper belts and cap chutes will handle minor differences in caps and bottles.  In some cases, machinery can be manufactured for different types of closures as well, versus different varieties of the same closing methods.  A spindle and snap capper machine can use spindle wheels to tighten screw on type caps while using a belt or stomper assembly to seal snap on type caps.  Where many different closures are being used - screw on, snap, corks, ROPP and others - multiple capping machines may be unavoidable, though again this is rare.  

Labeling Machines  

Labeling machine application can take many different forms, from a simple front label to a wrap label, panel label or even a top and bottom label.  The labeling machine chosen for a packaging system running multiple products or packages must be able to handle all of the necessary applications as well as the different bottle or container sizes.  Custom labeling machines can be manufactured to handle multiple applications and in most cases, simple adjustments to bottle separators, guide rails and the set up of the label will be enough to handle varying container sizes.

While setting up a packaging line to handle multiple products and containers can be challenging, on most occasions this is exactly what the system is set up to do.  The analysis of the project must simply take into account each and every package and product to be used to find the most efficient, reliable and consistent method of meeting the needs of the packager.