The packaging industry is probably one of the fastest growing industries in the world today. From tabletop semi-automatic machines to completely automated lines, packaging machines allow product to reach the consumers in a quick, safe manner. Below are some key terms, machines and ideas behind the packaging industry.
Automation - One of the goals of packaging machinery is the ability to automate the packaging process, meeting product demand in an efficient manner.
Bottling Equipment - Though other packages, such as pouches, are becoming more prominent on shelves, bottles continue to be a popular choice for packagers and many different packaging machines are manufactured to handle all different types of bottles.
Capping Machines - One type of packaging machine used to seal bottles, capping machines are manufactured based on the type of cap they will be handling, from screw on type caps, to snap caps, ROPP caps and more.
Drip Tray - Drip trays are a component of a filling machine that keep product from covering the power conveyors or bottles as they pass through the filling area. A number of components exist for filling equipment that help to create an ideal solution for each filling project.
Efficiency - Packaging machines increase efficiency by making the process itself faster, more consistent and more reliable, from filling, capping and labeling to transferring and packing finished product.
Filling Machines - A key piece of equipment in any packaging line is the liquid filler, which can fill using several different principles, from level fills to volumetric fills, as well as handle products both thick and thin.
Gates (Indexing) - Many packaging machines will include an area where the task is completed, such as a rinse area or fill area. Indexing gates hold bottles in place during the process and release them once the process is compelte.
Hazardous Location Equipment - Some environments or products can create hazardous conditions for the packaging process. Hazardous location equipment, from rinsers to fillers, cappers and more, will be specially constructed to remove the danger.
Integration - Each individual packaging machine should have the ability to work with other equipment to form a complete packaging line. Bringing together individual machines to form this line is known as integration, whether the equipment comes from one or multiple manufacturers.
Jack - Jacks will be used on a variety of equipment to adjust the height of certain components of a packaging machine, or the packaging machine as a whole.
Knives - Some equipment is created specifically for certain types of packaging. For example, an ROPP capper will use custom designed knives to seal wine bottles, olive oil and other similar products.
Labelers - Labeling machines allow the packager to present his or her product to the public, or the consumer. Labels may contain logos, information, expiration dates or any other information. Labeling machines can apply labels in a variety of formats, including wrap, front and back or top and bottom.
Material Handling - Material handling refers generally to the movement and protection of the package and product as it progresses through the packaging line. Power conveyors will normally be used on an automatic packaging system to move containers from one machine to the next.
Neck Grabbers - Another component of a filler, and possibly other packaging equipment, that is used to secure bottles in place during one of the processes on a line. For example, neck grabbers may be used to clamp oddly shaped bottles in place under fill heads, to ensure a clean, consistent fill.
Orienters - Bottle orienters are used to ensure that bottles or other containers on a packaging line are properly situated for certain functions of the line. For example, if a label must be placed on the front of the container, a bottle orienter will ensure the container is facing the correct direction for this to happen.
Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) - The PLC is the heart of automatic packaging machines such as the liquid filler. The PLC allows the operator to use a simple interface to set almost all controls for rinsing, filling and other functions on the line.
Quality - Machine quality is key to the performance of the packaging line. Construction material must be compatible with the product, package and environment to ensure that the equipment will perform as desired.
Recirculation System - A unique characteristic of an overflow filling machine, the recirculation system allows excess product from the bottle to return to the holding tank, resulting in a level fill on each and every bottle even if slight discrepancies exist in interior volume of the bottles.
Safety - Automatic packaging machinery often runs bottles and containers at a high speed. Moving parts and pinch points can create danger. Shields, guards, E-stop buttons and other safety devices will be incorporated into machine designs to ensure safety.
Training - Though the set up and operation of the packaging equipment may seem simple, quick and easy, training is essential to understanding the proper techniques for changeover, start up and modification of settings on the different machines.
Unscramblers - An unscrambler is one method of loading bottles onto the beginning of an automated packaging system. AN operator simply dumps bulk bottles into the machine and the unscrambler will right the bottles and otherwise orient them for presentation to the power conveyor.
Viscosity - The viscosity of a product will play a direct roll in choosing the correct packaging equipment, specifically the filling equipment. As a general rule, certain types of filling machines are better suited to thin or thick products.
Wear Parts - Almost every packaging machine will include wear parts that need to be changed out from time to time. Some fillers will use bottle seals, some capping machines will use rubber spindle disks. Being aware of which parts may wear and replacing them in proper time will ensure peak machine performance.
Of course, these are only a few of the terms, components and actual packaging machines in the industry! Every project creates new challenges and innovative solutions. For those packaging a new product, the benefits of obtaining information and educating yourself on options include choosing the ideal solution for your given project.
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