The First Step of a Packaging System - Bottle Loading
Before an automated packaging system can fill, cap, label or otherwise prepare bottles and containers, those bottles or containers must first be placed on the system! A number of different bottle loading options are available, with the different options working better depending on the bottle type, size, shape and other factors.
For some systems, loading containers on to the system may be as simple as dumping bulk containers into a hopper. Bottle unscrambling machines take bulk containers, orient or stand them up and present them to the power conveyor system to begin rinsing, filling or otherwise packaging the containers. The unscramblers quickly load containers on to the line while freeing up the operator to handle other packaging machine tasks. While these machines can handle a range of container types and sizes, they are most commonly used with PET or plastic bottles.
Alternative loading options will require a little more operator interaction to prepare containers for packaging. For instance, loading turntables will require an operator to remove containers from a box, crate, bag or other bulk source and place them on the turntable top. A bottle guide system then moves the containers to the outside of the table where they will transfer to the take away conveyor system. Indexing conveyors and bottle debaggers can also be used to present bottles to the take away conveyor in rows. These systems typically include a conveyor that uses lanes running perpendicular to the main conveyor system. The operator loads bottles from a table into the lanes. Generally speaking, turntables are a good solution for round bottles while laning conveyors are a better choice for square or other non-round bottles. All of these options can take advantage of a loading table or deadplate to make the process more efficient.
Finally, some packaging systems may use an operator to manually place individual containers on a conveyor line. This might happen if a uniquely shaped bottle needs to oriented in a certain fashion, if production demand is on the low end or for any number of other reasons. A static bottle hopper can be placed anywhere on the conveyor system to assist in this task. Again, bulk bottles will be dumped in to the hopper, but unlike the automatic orientation offered by an unscrambler, the bottle hopper simply makes bottles easily accessible to the operator of the line.
While custom bottle loading options are always available, the manners of loading bottles noted above make up the vast majority of loading systems. When planning a packaging system, the loading of the containers should always be kept in mind to determine the necessary labor as well as to ensure that the loading process will keep up with the rest of the line! For more information on any of the bottle loading machines, contact Liquid Packaging Solutions or browse the relevant section of the LPS website.