Step Two of a Packaging Systems - Conveyor and Transfer Systems
After bottles have been loaded on to an automatic packaging system, some method of moving bottles from one packaging machine to another must be in place. Transferring bottles from machine to machine will typically require a power conveyor system, but other packaging machines and components also assist in moving containers.
POWERED CONVEYOR SYSTEMS
Power conveyor systems are used to continuously and reliably move bottles and containers. These machines can be designed and manufactured in a number of different ways to meet the needs of the individual project at hand. Low profile conveyors can fit in tight spaces and take up a little less space than other conveyor types. Sanitary style conveyors allow for easy cleaning. The conveyor type to be used will be determined by the products, the space available, bottles and many other factors. Power conveyors can also be designed in a straight line or include curved sections to allow more freedom in setting up the line as a whole.
Like powered conveyors, non-powered types of conveyors can be designed and manufactured in several different ways. However, without motors to move the belt, other components must be used to foster motion. The most common types of non-powered conveyors include both roller and skate conveyors. As the names suggest, these machines use either sets or rollers or skates to allow items to roll down the conveyors. These types of conveyors will typically be seen at the packing stage of a production line, allowing for cases, cartons or boxes to be loaded and sent to a shipping area. They may also be used at times to accumulate certain products for other packaging tasks. So it would not be unusual to find both powered and non-powered conveyors on the same packaging line.
OTHER BOTTLE TRANSFER PRODUCTS
There are several other items that may help to transfer bottles, or transfer them in a certain manner. Transfer turntables provide one alternative for switching the direction of bottles on a packaging line. As bottles come off the conveyor and on to the turntable, they can circle around to a perpendicular conveyor and change direction, allowing for a horseshoe or other type design to the system as a whole. Bottle reject stations may also be used to remove individual products that have issues as they move down a packaging line. For example, a sensor may be used to identify bottles that are missing caps or closures. The bottle reject station, communicating with the sensor, would then remove those bottles without caps from the main conveyor line.
Finally, other components may affect the manner in which the bottles travel down the conveyor system. Bottle separators can be used to slow down bottles as they move down the line, creating separation for packaging tasks such as applying a label. The separator will use either a belt or disc to reduce the speed of bottles, releasing one at a time to ensure, for example, that each bottle receives a label and no label gets stuck to more than one bottle.
Part of custom designing a packaging system includes designing a transfer system that will not only move bottles, but move them in the best manner to make the entire system perform efficiently. Starting Friday, we will look at more of the individual packaging machines, such as bottle fillers and bottle cappers. For questions on any of the packaging machinery found on the LPS website or for custom packaging systems, contact the LPS offices today.