Now that we have covered a few questions to ask when hunting for a filling machine, let's take a second to consider what to look for when the time comes to add a capping machine to the packaging process. While speed may be a motivating factor for adding a bottle capper to a line, many times semi-automatic machinery will be employed not for speed, but for the consistency and reliability of closing or sealing. For those with little or no knowledge of the different machines, here are a few items to pay attention to when comparing equipment.
1. What types of closures can the machine handle?
Most capping machines are manufactured to handle a single type of closure. For example, spindle and chuck cappers for screw-on type closures, ROPP cappers for roll on pilfer proof caps, snap on cappers for snap on type caps. The first and most obvious question when searching for a capping machine is, do you have a machine that can handle my closure? Some packagers may use more than one type of closure, or several variations of the same type of closure. Screw-on type caps may be simple flat caps, flip-tops, trigger sprayers, pumps and more. So to ensure that the machine will handle all closures used in a packaging project, it is usually best to get samples of all caps to the machinery manufacturer. Custom capping machines, such as a spindle & snap capper, may also handle more than one type of closure, but keep in mind as you select the components of your capper that using more than one type may increase cost as well as set up and changeover time during production.
2. How is the machine operated?
Bottle cappers can range from simple handheld equipment to fully automated continuous capping machines. Understanding how the machine is operated will help to plan not only for the labor necessary to run production but also the time necessary to complete the sealing of the necessary number of bottles or containers. Automatic machines will usually only require an operator to supply bulk closures from time to time while keeping an eye on the machine or the entire packaging line, depending on the line itself. However, semi-automatic machinery may require different levels of operator interaction. Some machines may require operators to place the cap, perform the capping process and then remove the sealed container to move it to the next packaging phase. Other machines may simply require placing the cap and setting the bottle on a conveyor, with many variations on these two procedures in between. Ask questions to understand exactly what will be needed from your operator or operators.
3. What kind of speeds can be achieved with the machine?
When this question is asked regarding semi-automatic equipment the answer can be somewhat vague, simply due to the fact that the speed of many semi-automatic machines is dependent upon the speed of the operator of the machine. Still, understanding the operation of the machine should allow for some estimate of the speed. For automatic machines that run continuously or cap groups of bottles, the packager should simply understand the capacity of the machine to ensure it meets both current and future production demands and estimates. Like filling machines, the speed of a capper will normally be measured in bottles or containers per minute, allowing a rough estimate of maximum output in a given workday.
4. Are upgrades possible?
With semi-automatic bottle cappers, packagers will probably reach a limit if demand for a product continues to grow. Of course, additional semi-automatic machines can be added, and some packagers are simply preparing local or regional products. But other semi-automatic equipment can be manufactured on the same frame as automatic machines, allowing for significant upgrades in the future, including the addition of a cap delivery system and control panel to automate the process when the time comes. Understand your current and future goals to decide which machine can best meet present needs without the equipment becoming prematurely obsolete.
To see some of the different capping machines offered by NPACK, visit the capping and sealing section of our website, or pick up the phone and speak to one of our Packaging Specialists today.