Semi-Automatic Packaging Machinery and Speeds
Regardless of the type of level of automation, one question encountered by our Packaging Specialists with almost any project refers to the speed of the machine. Honestly, as a machinery manufacturer, LPS representatives might be a little worried if this question did not arise, as added efficiency and speed are often the point of using packaging equipment. However, the question becomes a little more difficult to answer when packagers are looking at semi-automatic equipment.
Almost all of the semi-automatic equipment, as the name implies, relies to some extent on an operator. For example, a semi-automatic filling machine would require an operator to place containers and start the fill cycle. Semi-automatic capping machines typically require an operator to place the cap on the bottle and initiate the capping process via foot or finger switch, though sometimes sensors will be used as well. Even semi-automatic labeling machines will require manual labor to position the container for the receipt of the label. The speed of the semi-automatic equipment then, will depend in large part on the speed of the operator of the machine.
However, the equation does not begin and end with the speed of the operator or the speed of the machine. The layout of a semi-automatic packaging system can have a great impact on how quickly bottles can be filled, capped, labeled and otherwise packaged. For example, many semi-automatic machines are designed as tabletop equipment. One packager may use both a tabletop liquid filler and a tabletop capping machine. Obviously, keeping these machines in close proximity will cut down on the time necessary to perform the tasks by removing transfer or travel time. Furthermore, a single operator may both fill and cap bottles, but he or she would not be able to perform both tasks at the same time. A packager may then choose to use one operator for each machine, again speeding up the process.
So while a semi-automatic machine may be able to fill, cap or label a specific number of bottles each minute, other factors such as operator speed and equipment layout can mean that optimal speed may not be reached. In other words, just because the machine is capable of filling, capping or labeling 60 bottles per minute does not mean that the packaging process used by a company will produce 60 bottles per minute. While operator speed cannot always be accurately predicted and space requirements may require less than perfect set up of equipment, simply being aware of these factors, and making the machine manufacturer aware of these factors, can help to ensure that the ideal equipment is designed and built for the project.
Packaging Specialists are always available from LPS to discuss any and all packaging projects and to answer questions on any of our equipment, semi-automatic or automatic. We encourage packagers to contact our offices to discuss projects and solutions and LPS representatives can be reached by phone Monday through Friday from 8 AM to 5 PM Central Time at 1-888-393-3693.