Sensors and Packaging Machine Automation
While there are many different components that contibute to automating packaging machinery, sensors are used to assist with many different functions as a bottle travels down a packaging line. In fact, sensors will often even play a part with tabletop and semi-automatic equipment as well. Below are just a few of the ways that machinery uses sensors to help automate the packaging process.
Both automatic rinsing machines as well as automatic liquid fillers will use sensors to count bottles as they move in to the rinse or fill area. This sensor ensures that the correct number of bottles will be rinsed or filled, and that no bottles are missing during a cycle. Sensors may also be used to detect the position of the carriage when a rinsing machine inverts bottles and to determine the position of the heads where the heads dive in to a bottle to fill containers. Certain filling machines may use sensors to help re-supply tanks. When the sensor sees that the liquid level is low, it communicates with the pump to provide more product to the tank! There are many other ways that sensors may be used on either a rinsing machine or a bottle filler, but generally speaking on both of these machines the sensors are used to send a signal to start or stop a function. In this way, they help to keep the rinse and fill cycles consistent, efficient and repeatable.
Automatic capping machines may also use sensors in a number of different ways. For example, a spindle capping machine may use a sensor when F-style bottles, or other unique containers, are used in order to release caps at the proper time. On automatic machines, caps will often be sorted in an elevator or a bowl and delivered to a chute for presentation to the bottles. A sensor may also be used to pause the elevator or bowl when the chute is full, to avoid jamming or overflowing caps. As with the rinsers and fillers, different capping machines may use sensors in different ways to communicate and make the capping process as efficient as possible.
As noted above, sensors may be used in some cases with semi-automatic or tabletop packaging equipment as well. As an example, simple one head piston fillers or single head chuck capping equipment may use a sensor to read when a bottle is in place. A nest is created for the bottle to be positioned for the fill or cap. Once the bottle is in the nest, the sensor tells the machine to begin the filling or capping process. The use of sensors on any packaging machine will depend on the process being completed as well as the level of automation and many other factors. For questions about sensors or packaging machinery in general, feel free to contact Liquid Packaging Solutions and discuss your own project needs.