Semi-Automatic Packaging Machinery and Operators
The level of automation required for any packaging project will depend in large part on the demand for the product or products offered by the company. For many companies, whether they are just starting up, are a regional company or simply in an industry with a lower output, fully automated packaging lines may be overkill. Companies producing a few hundred or even thousand products a week may not want or need to spend business cash on automatic machines. Semi-automatic packaging machines allow for efficient and effective options between packaging by hand and purchasing a fully automatic line.
Whereas automatic packaging machines will typically index bottles and start cycles automatically, semi-automatic packaging machines, in general terms, require an operator to initiate each cycle in the packaging process. For example, on a filler, a semi-automatic machine would require an operator to position bottles and then use a finger switch or foot switch to start the fill cycle. Semi-automatic filling machines are, therefore, a step up from hand filling, by allowing accurate filling quickly, but still require some interaction with an operator with each set of bottles being filled.
In addition to being efficient and economical, semi-automatic packaging lines also allow for many different set ups on the production floor. For example, a filling machine may be set up on a tabletop, or on a full frame with a slide track. The various layouts of the semi-automatic machines give packagers some flexibility as to their work force as well, though this will once again depend somewhat on the demand of the product. A tabletop system, for example, could include a filling machine, handheld capper and a tabletop labeler, all positioned on one table. This could allow a single operator to fill, cap and label the bottles. Such a set up may be ideal for a start up company just getting on their feet. Though having one person perform all three tasks means fewer bottles get done per minute, this design cuts down on overhead, production and labor costs.
Another facility may use a semi-automatic filler, capper and labeler on full frames. In this case, one operator may fill bottles, while another caps and a third labels. Auxiliary equipment, such as turntables and conveyors may also be put to use in this scenario to speed up production and help transport containers from one machine to another. Operators will still assist with each cycle, but full-frame equipment can be set up to produce more finished product and includes the added benefit of being upgradeable to automatic equipment for most machines.
In between the tabletop system and the machines all on full frames, there exist many other semi-automatic design options to meet the needs of any packaging system. These systems can be set up to run with a single operator or multiple operators. The ideal design for any project will depend not only on the package and the bottles, but also on the space available, the labor to be used, the production speed desired and many other factors which may differ from project to project. For assistance in identifying the equipment that may work best for your own project, contact a Packaging Specialist at Liquid Packaging Solutions today!