To Cap (automatically) or Not to Cap (automatically)

To Cap (Automatically) or Not To Cap (Automatically)

Though many packages can be sealed by hand with a cap, lid or other closure, this method of closing is not the most reliable or the most efficient manner of capping a product.  Smaller facilities with low production demands can probably get away with hand tightening caps, but once production starts to grow, capping machines pretty much become a necessity.  At some point, simply to meet demand, an automatic capper may be the best solution, but how can a company tell when to move to semi-automatic or automatic capping machinery?


The cap type itself will have some bearing on which type of capping machine, if any, would be best for a particular application.  Simple screw on type caps may be able to be hand tightened fairly consistently.  ROPP caps will always require some type of machinery to create the threads and seal the bottles.  The two biggest issues when using manual labor to tighten any cap are fatigue and human error.  If a person is continually tightening for an extended period of time, the consistency of the seals will likely differ from the start of the shift to the end.  Human error might include cross-threading caps, spills, too much or too little torque and a host of other issues, again leading to a lack of consistency in the capping process.  Handheld and tabletop bottle cappers can improve consistency and reliability while decreasing human error, so a difficult cap type alone will not always warrant an automatic capping machine.


In addition to the cap type, choosing the right capping machine will depend in part on the demand for the product.  As alluded to above, packagers will lower production can add consistency and reliability with a handheld or tabletop capping machine.  Higher production rates may call for a semi-automatic or automatic capper.  A semi-automatic capper will usually continue to require an operator to place a cap on the bottle before the tightening takes place.  Most automatic cappers will use an automatic cap delivery system to provide non-stop capping on a packaging system.  Combining the cap type with production demands required will give a packager a better idea of which type of capping machinery will best suit the specific project.


A high speed, automatic capping machine will be of very little use if it is running in conjunction with lower speed filling machines, rinsing machines or other, slower packaging equipment.  The capping machine of choice should integrate well with existing, or future, packaging machines.  Not all companies will purchase or upgrade to a fully automatic packaging line right away.  So there may be times when purchasing a packaging machine that outperforms other equipment makes sense - when full automation is a future goal.  Otherwise, automating the capping machine will have to be weighed against automating other equipment to decide where the most benefit will be acquired.  

Though other factors exist, such as budget and available space, weighing these three factors together can help a packager identify the best capping solution for a specific packaging line.  As a company grows and expands, capping machinery exists to help create a consistent, reliable and efficient process for sealing and protecting product.