Filling nozzles, sometimes called filling needles or filling tubes, are the discharge point
of the filler, where product enters the container. There are many designs but most are
some variation on three basic types:
· Inward opening
· Outward opening
Some nozzles may combine features of the above such as an inward opening nozzle
with a capillary extension.
Glue, more properly called adhesive is used in many packaging applications. It seals
cartons and cases, affixes labels and coupons, combines products and more. Four
types of glue are commonly used in packaging:
· Hot melt glue is supplied in pellets or pillow and is melted by heating. It’s
adhesive properties come from cooling and re-solidifying after application
· Cold glue is supplied as a liquid. It adheres as it dries.
· Pressure sensitive glue is most commonly used on labels and is applied to the
label at the converter. It is naturally adhesive and is protected by a paper or
plastic backing until application.
· Heat sensitive adhesives are less common these days, largely displaced by
pressure sensitive labels. Heat sensitive labels are supplied with a heat activated
adhesive. Immediately prior to application, they are heated. On cooling, the glue
adheres the label to the product.
Cartons are the key to sales for many products. They are what the customer sees on
the store shelf. A good looking carton, properly formed with no scuffing or tearing, can
be the key to moving your merchandise.
Good cartoning starts with the converter (supplier) cartons must be properly cut, scored,
folded and glued. Cheaper cartons may make the purchasing department look good but
they can be a nightmare on the packaging line. Nightmares on the packaging line mean
low efficiencies that will far outweigh any savings on purchases. Just 2 percentage
points of inefficiency means 1 week of lost production. On a line running 250 cartons
per minute, that can mean more than 6 million annual lost sales.
Steel cans are the 2nd oldest type of packaging after glass and clay bottles. They are still popular today, especially for food but for many other products as well. They have a number of desirable characteristics including:
· Tamper resistant
· Easy to open
· Familiar to consumers and packagers
· Easy to run at high speeds (Up to 3,000 can per minute)
Originally cans were single seamed. The can lid or “end” was cupped, placed over the
straight sided can body and soldered in place. Single seam cans are now rare. Virtually
all cans are double seamed. The double seamed can seals by mechanical force with no
need for potentially contaminating solder. Double seaming eliminates the time and
complexity of soldering or welding body and end. Double seaming allows the use of
dissimilar materials such as a plastic body with an aluminum end.
Chuck cappers can be rotary or inline, continuous or intermittent motion. They can run at speeds from 20ppm to 1200ppm or more. What all have in common is that the use a female chuck to engage the male cap and turn it down to a precise application torque.
The first thing to understand it that the end user is only interested in removal torque, sometimes called “off torque”. Too much removal torque and they will not be able to get the cap open. Too little and it will leak. Big leaks will make a mess, small leaks, even if no product escapes, may allow air to get in and spoil the product.
When we think of collapsible tubes we most likely think of toothpaste since we all use it every day. Tubes are also used for packaging many other products such as foods, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, candy and more. Tubes can be used for any liquid from very thick like silicone caulk to as thin as water. Occasionally tubes are even filled with powder. Tube filling/sealing speeds run from 20-30ppm to 500+ppm.
I’ve been working with packaging machinery for longer than I want to confess. One issue that has always bothered me is that machinery terms vary from builder to builder, industry to industry and person to person. When people use the same word to describe two different machines, misunderstandings can lead to costly mistakes. It is critical is that any definition or terminology be used consistently and understood the same way by all concerned.
To that end, I propose the following taxonomy for use in describing packaging machinery.
Function > Type > Level of automation > Package movement > Package orientation > Machine direction > Speed
Pouches, sometimes called sachets, are generally formed from roll fed filmstock. They can also be formed offline at a converter or elsewhere then filled and closed on a separate machine. When preformed pouches are used, the filling and sealing process is similar except that the pouches will be fed from a magazine rather than a roll.
Films can be any sealable material such as plastic, aluminum, paper or combinations. Generally, film requirements will be similar to those of VFFS and HFFS machines discussed in a previous white paper. This paper will focus on machinery that forms, fills and seals the pouches on a single machine.
It has been said that “Conveyors are intelligent bridges between islands of automation.”
A packaging line consists of a series of machines such as a filler, a capper, a labeler and so on. These are the “islands of automation.” Each, on its own, can accomplish very little. The labeler, for example, can’t do anything until it receives full, closed bottles. After labeling it can’t do much until the bottle is taken away. Sometimes this is manual but more often they are connected, or “bridged,” by conveyors.
Conveyors must know when to take away product from one machine and when to feed it to the next one. To do this, they need some intelligence. Thus, “intelligent bridges.”
200 milliseconds, one fifth of a second, doesn’t sound like much. It might be costing you hundreds of thousands of bottles a year that you could otherwise sell.
Have I got your attention?
An 8-head inline filler, running 8 cycles per minute, has a cycle time of 7.5 seconds. During an 8-hour shift, it will cycle 3,840 times to produce almost 31,000 products. Over a year, 250 shifts, it will produce about 7.75 million bottles.
Strictly speaking, shrink wrapping is not considered “flexible packaging.” However, wrapping does use flexible film and foil of various materials and combinations. Many of the general considerations for films discussed in previous whitepapers on Form-Fill-Seal and pouching machines will apply to wrapping machines as well.
A chain is only as strong as its weakest link and a packaging line is only as fast as its slowest machine. The slowest machine is the constraint that determines the potential output of the line.
Buffers can be used to manage this constraint to improve total throughput. The terms buffer and accumulator are often used interchangeably. They are actually two similar but different things.