The Heart of the Packaging System: Filling, Capping and Labeling

The Heart of the Packaging System: Filling, Capping and Labeling

While many different packaging machines exist for both semi-automatic and automatic packaging systems, almost every packaging system will include the big three:  filling machines, capping machines and labeling equipment.  While other equipment - container cleaning machines, coding equipment, nitrogen purge machines - may exist on a packaging line, virtually every product must be placed into a container in some manner, and that container will almost always need a seal.  In addition, almost every packager will use the product label as a way to introduce their goods to the consumer and to offer crucial information on the product.  For these reasons, some type of filler, capper and labeler will normally be found on every packaging system.

Of course, fully automated packaging lines will use a power conveyor to move bottles from the filling machine to the capper and labeler.  For these systems, the machines are basically rolled up to the conveyor system and set up to do their job.  Each automatic packaging machine will need to be set up and/or adjusted for different bottles, but the operator will not assist in the filling, capping or labeling of individual bottles.  However, fully automatic packaging systems may not be necessary, or economically feasible, for every packaging project.  Still, machinery exists to add efficiency to each of the three packaging phases.

For facilities that have lower production demands, semi-automatic and tabletop filling machines offer affordable alternatives to fully automatic machines that will still increase productivity and efficiency and help meet those demands.  These semi-automatic filling machines will work with just about every product handled by automatic fillers, using the same basic filling principles - overflow, gravity, piston and/or pump filling.  Semi-automatic filling machines can also be built on the same frame as the automatic machinery, allowing for easy upgrades in the future.  In other words, as demand for your product increases, these liquid fillers can be easily upgraded to account for that growth.

Just like the filling equipment, capping machines can be manufactured as semi-automatic and tabletop equipment as well.  In some cases, even manual, handheld cap tighteners will be used simply to add consistency and reliability to the capping process.  Some semi-automatic capping machines can also be manufactured using the same frame as automatic machinery.  The semi-automatic machinery will not include automatic cap delivery systems, and thus the operator will still need to hand place the caps on to the bottles in most situations.  However, such an engineering design allows - just like the filling equipment - for fairly simple upgrades to an automatic capping machine should future production require the same.

Labeling machines come in many different shapes and sizes, and will apply labels in many different manners.  For some facilities, labeling equipment may simply consist of a machine that presents a label to a manual laborer, who will then apply the label by hand.  Once production passes the minimal level though, tabletop and semi-automatic labeling machines can add some speed and efficiency to the process, as well as ensure consistent labeling on every bottle.  Different labeling machines will also be manufactured depending on the format of the label being applied.  Wrap labelers are popular for many different products, but front and back, panel and combination labeling machines can also be built.  

Semi-automatic machinery might still use some type of conveyor system to move or even accumulate bottles at the given station.  But some facilities may choose to purchase packaging machinery one phase at a time to spread cost and allow growth along with product demand, eventually putting together a fully automatic packaging line.  Semi-automatic machinery also allows for filling, capping and labeling stations to be set up at facilities with less floor space, with tabletop machinery available for those with very restrictive space requirements.  If you are just starting to package your own product, it is worth analyzing each of these three phases of packaging - filling, capping and labeling - to add efficiency and productivity wherever possible.