What is an Indexing Loading Conveyor?

An indexing loading conveyor is one alternative among many that allows an operator to quickly provide a packaging system with empty bottles or containers. With a large loading table and adjustable lanes, the indexing conveyor can handle square or non-round bottles that may be tough to load via an unscrambler or loading turntable. To better understand how this bottle loading machine works, we can look at the different components of the machine.

Loading Station

The loading station simply consists of a large table that allows operators to slide bottles or other containers onto the conveyor. The size of the table allows those loading the conveyor to easily place boxes or other bulk packages of bottles on the top for easy unloading. The smooth surface allows for easy transition from the table to the loading conveyor.

Conveyor Belting

The indexing loading conveyor typically consists of a wide conveyor belt running perpendicular to the main conveyor system of the packaging line. The wide belt on the indexing loading conveyor allows the ability to create rows of bottles or containers using the adjustable guide rails described below. As bottles are moved from the loading table onto the conveyor belting, they will move toward the main conveyor through the guide rails.

Adjustable Guide Rails

The adjustable guide rails allow for the easy loading of different container sizes. Simple hand knobs allow rails to be quickly adjusted to the desired width. In most cases, the number of lanes will equal the number of heads on a rinsing or filling machine, allowing the conveyor to index enough bottles for a complete cycle each time it releases containers. For example, working with a packaging system using an eight head filling machine, the indexing loading conveyor will normally use eight lanes to release eight bottles at a time to the main conveyor.

Bottle Indexing Guide

As bottles transition from the indexing loading conveyor to the main conveyor system, a bottle indexing guide will hold the bottles steady on the main conveyor to avoid jams upon release, the release of the wrong number of bottles or other issues. The indexing guide uses lanes, or slots, similar to the adjustable lanes described above. Once each slot contains a bottle, the bottle indexer will move away from the main conveyor, releasing containers to begin their journey through the rinsing machine, liquid filler, capping machine, and other equipment found along the main conveyor system. After a cycle is released, the bottle indexing guide returns to the holding position to await the next set of containers.

Control Panel

The control panel for an indexing loading conveyor typically includes a PLC and touchscreen interface. In addition to the power and cycle controls for the machine, the touchscreen interface will allow the operator to set several delay times for their own machine. For example, the delay times may include a bottles in place delay, meaning that a sensor will need to "see" bottles in the slots of the indexing guide for a specific amount of time before releasing them. Delay times ensure efficient operation by also helping to avoid issues such as bottle jams or incorrect bottle counts. The interface will also include certain manual toggle items for maintenance and troubleshooting.

While other bottle loading options are available, many of these options are limited by bottle shape, material, or size. The indexing loading conveyor provides a solution for non-round, glass or plastic bottles ranging from small to large. Explore bottle indexing conveyors and other bottle loading and transfer options at Liquid Packaging Solutions.