Working at a company that manufactures robotic packaging machinery, a person often receives a simple request for a quote on a specific piece of machinery. While it is true that a manufacturer may advertise for an accumulating turntable, overflow filler, a spindle capper, or any other “standard” machine it is also true that almost every machine built will be different in one way or another from every other machine manufactured in the past. For this reason, we often ask for additional information before returning a budgetary quote, as we view every machine we build as a custom packaging machine. Many times the differences between two machines will be subtle and they may appear the same. But simple components can change from project to project to ensure the ideal solution for each is reached. A few of the many subtle changes that may be found on packaging machines of the same type are described below to better understand the LPS definition of custom packaging machinery.
LOADING AND ACCUMULATING TURNTABLES
Even simple packaging machines or the robotic case packing can be custom manufactured to meet the needs of the individual customer. Loading and accumulating turntables are normally used to add bottles and containers at the beginning of a packaging line or to gather finished product at the end, respectively. The tops of these turntables or the disks that actually hold the bottles will obviously be built to handle the bottle size, the weight, and the necessary speed of the packaging line. Different motors may be used on different sized turntables. On loading turntables, the bottle guide that leads the containers to the power conveyor may be designed differently based on the shape, size, and weight of the individual containers. Finally, where the packaging environment or the product can detrimentally effect the “standard” stainless steel used for turntables, another material, such as HDPE may be used to build the machines. So, even one of the simplest machines on a packaging line, a turntable, should be custom built specifically for the project at hand to ensure maximum efficiency, consistency and reliability.
Conveyor systems can be manufactured to assist the manual transfer of containers or to automatically move containers through a packaging system. In other words, as non-powered or powered conveyors. Some systems will contain both types of conveyors. Like turntables, manufacturing conveyors means taking into account speed and weight to ensure the proper motors and reducers are used, but conveyor systems can be include a number of other subtle differences as well. The length and width of a conveyor system can be custom manufactured to accommodate the bottle rinser, filling machine, bottle cappers and any other machines to be used on the line, as well as to accommodate the range of bottles or containers that will be filled, capped, labeled and otherwise packaged. Not only can the construction material be changed to handle harsh chemicals and environments, but the belt material used can protect against static, heat, and other unique characteristics of a packaging project. The space in the packaging facility must also be taken into account, as conveyor systems can run in a straight line, curve, or even take advantage of vertical space to cool or accumulate product.
The first consideration when manufacturing a filling machine is the filling principle that will best work for the given project. Normally, the product will go a long way toward the selection of a filling principle—specifically the viscosity—but, even if the same filling principle is used, those subtle changes exist on the filler to make each job a custom job as well. A pump filling machine, for example, can use a wide variety of different pumps depending on the bulk tank location, the product itself and the speeds desired, among other things. The number of fill heads will vary from filling machine to filling machine as will the type of nozzle used on the robotic packaging systems. Again, like the turntables and conveyors liquid fillers may require special construction material for acid, bleach and other harsh chemicals, as the filler is the one machine that the product must traverse in the packaging process.
Generally, the same type of custom manufacturing is done on every type of robotic packaging machinery. Capping machines may require different methods of stabilizing a cap and bottle. Container cleaning equipment, like filling machines, may use different types and numbers of nozzles. There are those packaging projects that bring new ideas, new packages, and new challenges to the industry. In the end though, taking the time to customize even the smallest components of a packaging line ensures that each and every customers receives a packaging line that best suits their own needs.
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