Understanding Automation Levels for Liquid Packaging Equipment

Browse any category of machinery on our website and you are likely to see both semi-automatic and automatic options. This is true of liquid filling machines, bottle cappers and even bottle rinsing equipment. Below we look at the differences between semi-automatic and automatic packaging systems and how to find the best solution for your own business needs.

What is a Semi-Automatic Packaging System?

Semi-automatic packaging equipment from Liquid Packaging Solutions combines manual labor with machine operation. In other words, these machines automate certain parts of the packaging process, but require human intervention for other packaging tasks. To illustrate, a semi-automatic overflow filler will automatically fill bottles to a certain level each time the machine is cycled. Each cycle the machine operator will still load bottles, initiate the fill and unload bottles once the machine completes its task.

Semi-automatic equipment can be a cost-effective solution for small to medium sized companies while also offering other benefits. Allowing the machine to fill, cap or otherwise prepare liquid products reduces the amount of labor and labor fatigue from the process, while also offering easy operation, typically no more than placing containers, stepping on a foot switch or using a finger switch to initiate the machine cycle. But semi-automatic packaging equipment does still rely on manual labor, and for companies that must meet high demand for a product, such equipment may eventually reach a limit.

What is an Automatic Packaging System?

LPS manufactures automatic packaging machinery to minimize the need for operator interaction. Operators of automatic machinery must still set up the machine for the product and components to be run, but once production begins, the operator needs only oversee the system and provide bulk components or product. The operator of an automatic liquid filling machine would connect the bulk product supply and adjust fill heads, fill times and other settings for the bottle to be filled. Once the machine is started, containers are delivered to the filler via a power conveyor and the machine performs the fill, releasing bottles down the conveyor system to the next packaging stage. The operation of the automatic filler removes the need for the operator to place the bottles, start the fill and remove bottles with each cycle as described above for semi-automatic processes.

Automatic packaging systems offer high efficiency and productivity as the equipment can run continuously without frequent human intervention, saving on labor costs and offering consistent and precise performance which may not be achievable by manual labor. While more complex than semi-automatic machines, automatic equipment does offer easy changeover and set-up through tool-free adjustments, recipe screens and other technology. As a general rule, the more automation in a packaging system, the higher the upfront cost, though through labor savings and increased productivity, automation may pay for itself over time.

Which system is right for me?

While the factors to consider when choosing a packaging system will vary from project to project, businesses must always consider their production volume, budget, the products being prepared and the potential for future growth. For lower production, semi-automatic equipment may meet company needs, but future growth can also make these machines obsolete if demand and production grow significantly.

The ideal system for any business will likely change over time and packagers may choose to combine semi-automatic and automatic equipment to meet their own unique needs. LPS offers upgradeable semi-automatic equipment that can be converted to function automatically if manufactured with such upgrades in mind. To learn more about semi-automatic or automatic packaging equipment, or to discuss your own needs with a Packaging Specialist, give us a call today for a no-obligation consultation and see how LPS machinery can boost your efficiency and productivity without sacrificing consistency or reliability in the packaging process.