The Complete Packaging Line Solution
When talking about a complete packaging line solution, the word "complete" can be somewhat misleading. Complete will mean different things to different packagers. However, packaging machinery exists to complete just about any task that a packager could imagine. Therefore, putting together a complete packaging line simply consists of choosing the components necessary for the specific project at hand. To give some idea of the equipment options, we will analyze a sample packaging line below.
1. Bottle Unscramblers
Bottle unscramblers offer one solution for loading containers onto a packaging system. To put it simply, a line operator will dump bulk containers into the unscrambling machine to allow the machine to correctly orient and set bottles on to the conveyor system. From there, the conveyor delivers them to the different packaging machines on the line. Other loading options also exist, such as turntables, debaggers and loading conveyors. The correct solution for any system will depend on a number of factors, including the type of bottles being used and the production demands.
2. Power Conveyor System
The circulation system of the packaging system, the power conveyors, as noted above, move containers from one machine to another, allowing the individual pieces of equipment to function as a whole. Power conveyor systems can be manufactured to handle containers large and small and can be combined with other components such as reject stations or bottle separators to ensure that empty containers are filled, capped, labeled and otherwise prepared for customers when they reach the end of the packaging line.
3. Container Cleaning Equipment
Bottle rinsers and washers are used to remove contaminants from containers before product is introduced to the containers. For this reason, these machines will most likely be found just before the filling machine. Container cleaning equipment can handle a number of different containers in various ways. Some bottles may be inverted over a rinse basin before being cleansed with air, water or other cleaning solution. Other containers may be cleaned using a special nozzle that first blasts air into the container, then vacuums out debris, removing the need to invert containers.
4. Filling Machine
The heart of most packaging lines, the filling machine presents the product to the bottle, pouch, vial, syringe, box or other container type. Different filling machines exist for different types of products, from free-flowing liquids to thick pastes and gels. The filling machine can be built with a number of different heads to accommodate different production demands, with easy upgrading to allow more nozzles in the future. Liquid Fillers can also be manufactured to fill to a specific level, volume or net weight dependent upon the needs of the packager.
5. Nitrogen Purge Equipment
Nitrogen purge machines will normally be seen between the filling machine and the capping machine, though exceptions do exist. The main purpose of the nitrogen purge is to remove oxygen from a container, usually the headspace, to fight the negative effect that the oxygen would have on the product. So for example, certain foods or beverage would benefit from the purge through an extended shelf life, while also retaining their color, texture and flavor! Nitrogen purge systems will also be used from time to time to strengthen brittle bottles.
6. Capping & Sealing Machines
The type of closure used on any given container will help to determine which type of capping machine will be used on a packaging line. Whether a screw on cap, cork, snap on lid or a unique closure, there will exist some capping machine, custom or not, that will consistently and reliably close the container. Other types of seals, such as induction seals, capsules or neck bands, may require a separate machine to perform tamper evident seals and other closures.
7. Labeling Equipment
Labeling equipment can apply stickers to the bottles or containers in a number of different ways. From a simple front side label to a wrap around sticker to three panel wraps, these machines can help put a unique signature on a customer product. Labeling equipment can also be custom manufactured to allow for several different applications to accommodate packagers with more than one bottle type or size.
8. Coding Equipment
Coding equipment allows product information to be printed on labels or containers. Ink jet and laser coders are popular options for this task, though some hot stamp coding equipment is still in use as well. Packagers can add a lot number, batch number, expiration date or other useful content to help both the packager and the consumer.
9. Packing and Palletizing Machinery
Packing machinery may consist of anything from bundlers to cartoners to case erectors and tapers, simply depending on how the packager prepares their product to ship. Once in bulk containers, if bulk containers are used, the groups of product may be placed on a pallet using automatic packaging equipment, and that pallet may then be wrapped by an automatic packaging machine.
Each of these items might be found on a packaging line, but again, for many packagers a complete system will not include every machine mentioned above. Each individual packager will choose those options necessary to prepare their own product with the package of their choice. If you are not sure what would make an ideal complete system for your project, feel free to contact Liquid Packaging Solutions for assistance.