Simplifying Packaging Machinery Changeover
While it does happen, manufacturing packaging machinery for a company that uses a single product and a single bottle is somewhat rare. In most cases, bottles used to package a product will, at the least, come in different sizes, if not different shapes and even materials. These different containers may use different closures, labels and other components as well. Other packagers use not just different containers, but offer a variety of different products. All of this means that the packaging machinery manufactured by LPS must not only be versatile enough to handle a variety of products and packages, but must make the changeover from one to another as simple and efficient as possible for the packager. While each line will offer different techniques to simplify changeover from one product or container to another, below we describe some of the more common techniques employed.
1. Tool-Free Adjustments
Disassembling and re-assembing components of a packaging machine takes time, while also adding to the potential for lost and more frequently broken parts. When designing equipment, the engineers at LPS focus on, among other things, removing the need for tool based adjustments. For example, fill heads can be adjusted using a simple fingertip knob to loosen and tighten each nozzle. On spindle capping machines, gripper belts and spindle wheels can also be moved with dials or knobs. Keeping adjustments free of the need for tools reduces downtime and keeps the machinery preparing product for the majority of the working day when multiple products or containers are run throughout the day.
Many pieces of automatic equipment from LPS allow for set up and control of machinery from a touchscreen operator interface. Once times, durations and other functions have been input into the machine (normally done by LPS when customers provide sample product and bottles), a recipe screen allows all settings for the current bottle and product combination to be saved. When the combination is run in the future, operators can simply recall the given recipe and begin production, again saving time on changeover from one bottle or product to another.
3. Measurement Guides
Some machinery, including a number of capping machines, will not use a touchscreen interface. However, when this is the case, measurement guides can be set up on the machine itself to guide operators to the correct location for components such as stabilizer bars and gripper belts. These measurement guides allow operators to quickly use hand cranks and knobs to set the correct location for components of machinery, rather than set up bottles and relocate each time there is a changeover through trial and error. These simple guides again reduce downtime and keep production running smoothly even when multiple changeovers need to occur each day.
4. Power Height Adjustments
Power height adjustments come standard on almost all automatic equipment manufactured by LPS. The use of a simple knob turned left or right to lower or raise the equipment, respectively, again removes the need for trial and error to find just the right position when changing from one bottle to another. Combined with the measurement guides described above, the power height adjustment allows the machine to quickly be set to the proper position. This simple addition to the equipment can save hours of time over the course of a production week when many changeovers are necessary.
5. Clean-In-Place Systems
For those changing products on a frequent basis, a clean-in-place (CIP) system can also remove the need for disassembly and reassembly while keeping one product from contaminating the next product to be run. CIP systems generally allow operators of a filling machine to use the interface described above to clean the product pathway, including tanks, tubing and nozzles. The machine can be set to cycle water or other cleaning solution along the pathway for a pre-set amount of cycles and/or time. Rather than spending the time hand cleaning each components, the machine does the work itself, allowing operators to begin preparations for the next product to be run.
Each packaging system manufactured by LPS will be unique from the last system built. The design team at LPS will use these and other techniques to help to ensure each system is built to allow quick and easy changeover from one run to the next, whether the change is in bottles, product or both. For more information on LPS equipment, or to discuss your own changeover process, contact a Packaging Specialist at LPS toll-free at 1-888-393-3693.