Semi-Automatic Versus Automatic Packaging Machinery

While most of the packaging equipment manufactured at Liquid Packaging Solutions, Inc. can be built to perform either automatically or semi-automatically, the meaning of these two levels of automation is not universally defined. In general terms, automatic equipment will require little to know interaction with an operator once the machine is set up and running. Semi-automatic equipment will require a more hands on approach, with an operator assisting the machine at every cycle. Below are some of the more common machines and what is required of an operator.


Automatic rinsing machines require very little operator interaction once the machine is set up to run a specific bottle. Pre-production may include adjusting the nozzles for the bottles being run, positioning indexing components and selecting the recipe that contains the delays and durations for the rinse cycle. Once running, an operator need only monitor the machine.

Pre-production set up for a semi-automatic rinser will usually be a simple task of setting a timer for the desired rinse time. However, this equipment will require the operator to both place and remove bottles, as well as initiate the rinse cycle. For example, a wet rinser will require the operator to place multiple inverted bottles on to the rinse nozzles. The operator will then initiate the rinse cycle by stepping on a foot switch or in some alternative manner. Once the rinse is complete, the bottles will be removed and sent to the next packaging station. While demanding a little more attention from a single operator, the semi-automatic equipment still adds efficiency and speed over hand rinsing each and every bottle.


Filling machinery works in a very similar manner to the rinsing machinery described above. Automatic bottle fillers will require adjustment of nozzles to coincide with the bottles being run. Indexing may need to be adjusted as well and an operator interface will allow the operator to pull up a recipe with all delay and duration times, such as fill time, head dive time, retract delay and any others. However, once the machine begins production, the operator need only monitor the filler and the rest of the line to ensure smooth performance.

Semi-automatic fillers will typically require the operator to place bottles under the fill nozzles, initiate the fill cycle and remove bottles once filled. A slide track is a popular tool with tabletop and semi-automatic filling machines that allows the operator to slide one or multiple bottles along the track and under the heads, doing the same to move them out of the fill zone upon completion. Again, while requiring a little more operator assistance, these filling machines are much more consistent, accurate and efficient than trying to fill each bottle by hand.


Automatic capping machines will require some set up prior to running production. However, the type of set up will depend on the type of bottle capper being used for any given project. A spindle capper, for example, will not use indexing, but will require, among other minor adjustments, that spindles are adjusted for the bottle and cap combination being run on the packaging system. A bottle corker or chuck capper may require some adjustment to indexing or capping head height when multiple bottles are run on the system. In addition, automatic capping machines would not be very efficient without an automatic cap delivery system. So the operator will, from time to time, need to resupply bulk caps to this system while also making adjustments for different closures.

Semi-automatic capping machines, from handheld and tabletop equipment to full frame models, will usually require the operator to hand place the cap on the bottle prior to the sealing process. In most cases, the operator will also place the bottle under a capping head or in to a bottle nest to be capped. The actual capping may require initiation by the operator or a bottle sensor may also be used, depending on the type of capping machine in place. Operators will then remove the bottle once sealed and move it to the next packaging phase. Some semi-automatic cappers may increase the speed of the process, but the main benefits of these machines include reliable and consistent sealing and tightening.


Automatic labeling machine also require some pre-production set up to ensure smooth performance. Most of these settings will be made at a touchscreen interface as well. Some physical adjustment may be necessary to accommodate different bottle sizes. But once set up, the operator will only need to interact with the machine when a new label roll is needed. The application of the labels will simply take place as the bottles move down the power conveyor.

Semi-automatic labeling equipment will once again require operator interaction with each cycle. In other words, the operator will need to handle each bottle. Most semi-automatic labelers will simply need the operator to place the container in the correct position for the label to be applied, though some will also require a foot or finger switch to start the labeling process. Once applied, the operator will need to remove and transfer the bottle. Again, while process speed will likely increase, the consistent placement of labels on bottles is also a benefit of the semi-automatic machine.

Custom design of packaging machinery allows for many different levels of automation and many different solutions for rinsing, filling, capping or labeling containers. LPS representatives are always available to discuss packaging projects and find the ideal solution for businesses both large and small.