Given all of the products that are packaged for consumers, finding the ideal equipment for any given project seems like it could be a monumental task. In most cases, however, looking at three general areas will allow a manufacturer to identify and build the robotic packaging machinery best suited for any particular project.
The product or products being packaged will be one of the first points of analysis. In choosing a filling machine, the manufacturer of the equipment will need to know the viscosity of the products, the tendency of the product to foam, the effect of temperature changes and any other unique characteristics. This is the first step in choosing the correct filling principle for the project. For example, thin, free-flowing products without any other unique or unusual characteristics will likely be packaged using either gravity or an overflow filling principle.
The type of product will also play a role in choosing the correct machine. For example, many products that contain alcohol will require accurate volumetric fills. Other products that use a clear bottle, such as bottled water and glass cleaner are more interested in a level fill that provides shelf appeal.
Industry can also play a role in choosing other machinery as well. Foods, beverages, and pharmaceuticals will almost always add container cleaning equipment to a packaging line to protect against contamination from dust buildup or other debris. Even the material used to manufacture the equipment can be affected by the product in some circumstances. For instance, a harsh chemical may require plastic, corrosive-resistant power conveyors, turntables and other equipment to protect the life of the equipment in general. Some other companies are using a case packer.
By analyzing the product, the ideal machinery options are narrowed from a large pool of equipment to a few options that will require further analysis.
The second part of the analysis will focus on the package that is holding the product, be it a plastic bottle, pouch, glass container, or other type of vessel. The material, shape, and size of the container will have different effects on different types of robotic packaging systems. For example, large bottles may require an adjustment to the fill bar on a standard filling machine. The same bottles may make double gripper belts a necessity on a standard spindle capping machine. More details here: https://www.slideshare.net/liquidpouch/modern-packaging-machines-give-multiple-advantages
But it is not just the bottle or container that can cause modification. The type of closure will help determine the type of capping machine to be used. If the package includes tamper proof elements such as a neck band or an induction seal equipment to perform these tasks will also need to be added to the packaging line. Some products will not ship out as single items, instead being bundled together, which would also require a shrink wrap machine.
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After analyzing both the product and the package, a clearer picture should be emerging of the ideal machinery for the given packaging project. However, there is one last inquiry to consider.
Demand for a product, for package purposes generally translates to the speed necessary on the packaging line. If a product is packaged for a reasonably small, regional market, the packager may opt for tabletop packaging equipment to save space or portable semi-automatic machinery that can be upgraded in the future. If a packager is serving a global market with a high demand for product, a fully automated, load to palletize packaging line may be the best choice. In general, the demand for the product will assist in choosing the level of automation desired for the packaging line.
While these are the three main inquiries when identifying the ideal robotic packaging machinery for any given project, keep in mind that they are not the only questions to be answered. There are often other inquiries as the answer to one question may lead to several others, especially when a unique product or package is in use. But analysis of these three basic areas will usually allow the project manager identify the best solution for any given packaging task.