Starting the Process - Bottle Loading Techniques
Even with the quickest and most accurate bottle fillers, capping machines and other packaging equipment, they cannot do their job unless and until the bottles are delivered to them. Truly, the first step for most packaging systems is preparing the bottles for delivery. This process can take a number of different forms, a few of which we will look at below.
1. Bottle Hoppers
Of course, one of the easiest ways to introduce bottles to a packaging line is to simply place the bottles on the conveyor. Using a properly placed bottle hopper can add efficiency to this simple task as well, by offering the operator of the line a constant supply of easily reached bottles for placement. In general terms, bulk bottles can be placed into the bottle hopper. The hopper then typically presents bottles in a postion above the conveyor system that allows the operator to quickly and easily grab bottles to place and orient them on the conveyor. While not that different from simply placing bottles on the conveyor, using a hopper may make the process a little quicker.
Loading turntables also offer a quick and easy way to introduce bottles to a packaging line. These machines allow operators of a system to simply place empty bottles onto the turntable top. While the turntable spins, these bottles will work toward the outside of the table and, with the assistance of a bottle guide, move from the turntable to the main power conveyor, which will deliver the bottles to the liquid fillers, bottle cappers, labeling equipment and other machinery. Loading turntables may include half-moon deadplates to assist in unloading boxes or cartons of bottles for use with the packaging line. Turntables, like bottle hoppers, entail hand placing containers, but also speed up the process by allowing for quick and easy placement on the turntable top.
3. Laning Conveyors
Laning conveyors may be used as an alternative to loading turntables when bottles are prone to tipping or jamming up on exiting the loading turntable. For example, an oddly shaped bottle, extremely light bottle or even a tall bottle may not be as stabile as a short, round glass bottle. Laning conveyors may also be convenient for those packagers who receive bottles on pallets or tiers. Using a laning conveyor, operators can unload a tier or bag of bottles on the unloading platform. Single bottles are then placed into lanes on the loading conveyor that creates rows of containers for the main conveyor system. Bottles are released to the main conveyor one row at a time to avoid jamming, tipping or other loading issues.
4. Bottle Unscramblers
Finally, when higher speeds are required or packagers simply want to save labor on loading bottles, a bottle unscrambler may be used to introduce containers to the packaging line. This machine will simply require an operator to dump bulk bottles into the unscrambler hopper. From there, the machine will unscramble, orient and place the bottles on the main conveyor for delivery to the other packaging machinery. Bottle unscramblers may require some changeover when switching from one bottle to another, but such changeover will normally be tool-free and simple. For systems that need containers delivered consistently - and quickly - the bottle unscrambler may be the best solution.
Other bottle loading and material handling solutions also exist for custom products or projects. To see more material handling equipment from Liquid Packaging Solutions, Inc., simply browse the product pages of the LPS website.