Starting the Packaging Process - Turntables, Laning Conveyors and More
While automatic rinsing machines, bottle fillers and capping equipment can ease the pressure of meeting demand for a packager, none of the work these machines perform will matter without an efficient manner of delivering bottles to the equipment. While power conveyors move the bottles from one machine to another, the initial loading of bottles onto the conveyor system must also meet the needs of the equipment to keep the process efficient and reliable.
Though many different ways exist to get bottles onto the packaging line, there are a couple of solutions that are more popular for both inline automatic systems as well as some semi-automatic setups. At Liquid Packaging Solutions, loading turntables will often be used to begin the packaging process. These simple machines allow an operator to load bottles onto a turntable top, which then delivers the bottles to the main power conveyor as needed. Loading turntables are manufactured with different turntable top sizes to accommodate a variety of bottle sizes.
The loading turntable comes equipped with an adjustable bottle guide superstructure. The bottle guide helps move containers to the outside of the turntable. As the bottles move around the outside, they will eventually be positioned to leave the turntable for the power conveyor, which then delivers the bottles to the first packaging machine, be it a rinser, filler or other piece of equipment. Though typically constructed of stainless steel, these loading machines can also be built using HDPE for those packaging projects that are not conducive to stainless. Turntables can also be built with a loading table to aid in quickly placing bottles on the turntable top.
Turntables are a great solution for round bottles that will not jam or tip as they move around the top of the machine. However, for those using square or other non-round containers, a better solution is often the laning conveyor. Laning conveyors are manufactured with wide conveyor belts and adjustable lanes that allow bottles to be funneled into each lane for delivery to the main conveyor. Simple hand knobs allow for lane adjustment for quick changeover from one bottle size to another. In almost all cases, the number of lanes will be equal to the number of bottles being rinsed or filled. For example, if a packager is using an eight head rinsing machine and an eight head filling machine, eight lanes will also be used on the laning conveyor.
The operator can use the loading table at the front of the laning conveyor to unload boxes or cases of containers into the designated lanes, allowing for multiple bottles in each lane. As the bottle reach the main conveyor, they will be released in rows for delivery to the other machinery.
Both of these loading solutions can be used for automatic lines, semi-automatic lines and those lines that combine both levels of automation. Though other solutions do exist, such as bottle unscramblers, loading turntables and laning conveyors are the solutions most often added to LPS packaging lines. To learn more about these and other bottle loading solutions, contact a Packaging Specialist at LPS today.