Liquid Packaging Machines – The Benefits of Automating the Capping Process

It is a pretty safe bet that a majority of packagers that hand cap bottles in order to prepare them for sale do not look forward to the process. Not only can it be tedious and time-consuming when the numbers get large enough, it can present a danger to those doing the twisting, pushing and tightening in the form of repetitive motion injuries. In addition, some closures simply are not conducive to hand sealing, such as ROPP caps that require knives to thread the caps when applied. At a certain point, capping machinery can truly become a necessity for packagers, and the benefits of such equipment will pretty much remain the same whether using semi-automatic equipment or fully automated bottle cappers. There are other benefits to using capping machinery as well, a few of which are detailed below.

1. Consistency and Reliability

Whether using semi-automatic or automatic capping equipment, one of the biggest benefits is that bottles and other containers will be sealed in a consistent manner with each cycle. In addition to the fact that human hands simply won’t tighten every cap in the same manner, extended time spent sealing bottles can lead to fatigue and, if we are being honest, boredom, which then leads to inconsistent and unreliable capping. Automated capping machines are built to cap each and every container in the same manner, whether applying torque, applying pressure or otherwise performing the seal. Of course, semi-automatic capping machines will still use an operator to assist in the process, but the actual tightening, pushing or sealing will be performed by the machine itself. Automatic machines will only require an operator to perform initial set up as cap delivery systems will be used to present the closures to the bottles.

2. Capping Speed

With enough time, or broken down in to enough shifts, hand capping can be a fairly consistent and reliable method of preparing product for the shelf. However, as numbers grow, taking the time to avoid fatigue, boredom and injury would ultimately lead to an inefficient capping process. Bottle capping machines will usually increase speed over hand capping, with automatic machinery reaching speeds of up to 100 bottles per minute or more. Almost all packagers looking for an automatic capping machine will expect a higher output, but there are some exceptions to this rule. As noted above, capping machines can lend consistency and reliability to the process, and some manual and tabletop cappers will be used for these purposes, even without a significant increase in speed. However, more times than not, the speed with which the sealing can take place will be one of the main benefits of utilizing capping machinery.

3. Simple Operation

Though things can’t get much simpler than screwing on a cap or pushing in a cork, good capping machines are built to make things easy on the operator. Semi-automatic equipment will typically require the operator to place the cap on the bottles and slide the combination in to place to allow the machine to perform the seal. Automatic machinery will require initial set up and changeover from bottle to bottle, but once running, usually only requires the operator to ensure closures are available to the machine from time to time. The best capping machines will not require tools for set up whenever possible, relying on hand cranks and knobs to make adjustments. While unique containers and closures can lead to some exceptions to the tool-free set up and adjustment, the ability of almost anyone to operator capping machinery is a third benefit for packagers.

4. Versatility

Very seldom will a company package a single product in a single container, using only one type of cap or closure. Therefore, capping machinery needs to be versatile enough to handle a range of cap shapes and sizes. For example, spindle capping machines offer one solution for screw-on type caps, whether they are flat caps, flip-tops or even trigger sprayers, a single spindle capper can be built to handle a range of screw-on type closures. Some machines can even be combined to handle different types of closures, such as a spindle and snap capper. This machine can tighten continuous thread caps or apply pressure for snap on type caps. The versatility of a capping machine is a benefit that allows for both a cost-effective and efficient solution to the capping process.

5. Integration

In the packaging industry, there are manufacturers that specialize in a specific type of machine, be it a liquid filler, capping machine, labeler or other equipment. Capping machinery can be integrated with already existing packaging lines as long as the space is available for the equipment. Some packagers will also automate processes one step at a time. Meaning processes such as filling or labeling may already be automated when a packager goes looking for a capping machine. The benefit of being able to integrate capping machinery in to an already existing system is that packagers are allowed to grow and automate at their own pace, which will be different for almost every business.

The benefits of adding automation to the capping process will vary from project to project, as will the amount of automatic added, but those benefits listed above will often be the motivating factors for change. An analysis of containers, closures, product demand, space and budget for any project should always be performed when searching for the best capping solution, which can add efficiency, speed, reliability and so much more to the packaging process as a whole.

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