Which Came First, the Capping Machine or the Filling Machine?

Which Came First, the Capping Machine or the Filling Machine?

The process of automating packaging can be a daunting task, both physically and economically.  Many times, a company will not immediately automate every step of their process.  Instead, a company will automate one component at a time until the complete system runs free of manual labor.  But how do you choose which components to automate and which to continue completing manual on the road to a completely automatic process?

That question can not actually be answered without knowing the specifics of any given packaging project.  As an example, let's consider a company that is trying to decide between a liquid filler and an automatic capping machine.  In reality, automating the filling machine would be the best choice in some situations, while automating the bottle capper first would be more efficient in others.

Imagine, for example, large containers with a simple, snap on cap.  By analyzing the project, it will become clear that the filling machine would be better for first step automation.  Filling large containers by hand would take an excessive amount of time, and the capping machine would only seal these containers as fast as they could be presented to it.  By automating the filling process, speed is added and manual labor can be used to snap on the simple closure.

On the other hand, a project with smaller containers that do not require an accurate fill, but with a long threaded screw on cap would present the exact opposite scenario.  Filling by hand would not take as much time as screwing on each individual cap, ensuring not to cross thread, over-tighten or under-tighten.  In this scenario, the packaging process as a whole would benefit from a chuck or spindle capper while allowing hand filling of product to continue.

Keep in mind that we only used the bottle filler and capping machine as examples.  For different products, other machinery may be a better choice when it comes to starting the automation project, including rinsing machinery or even labeling equipment.  After the first piece of equipment is automated, the same analysis should be done for each additional machine until full automation is reached.

Of course, there are intermediate steps as well for those companies who do not wish to move immediately to automation.  Semi-automatic equipment can be used for smaller production facilities and many of these machines are capable of being upgraded to automatic performance in the future.  For help with your own automation analysis, feel free to contact the Packaging Specialists at Liquid Packaging Solutions, Inc.