Like filling machines, there are some common questions encountered by the NPACK team when fielding inquiries about bottle capping equipment. Below are a few of these recurring questions and a brief discussion showing why they are not only common, but important!
Will this machine work with my caps and closures?
Different types of closures will require different capping machines. For instance, someone not familiar with capping machines might not know that both spindle cappers and chuck capping machines can be used for twist off type, continuous thread caps, the kind of screw-on closures found on bottled water and other beverages, as well as window cleaners, milk, eye droppers, fingernail polish and an abundance of other products. Discussing caps and closures will help NPACK guide the packager to the ideal machine for the type of seal to be done. NPACK offers capping machines for just about any type of closure and can even custom manufacture bottle cappers for those with unique closing and sealing ideas.
Can it handle all of my bottle shapes and sizes?
While the bottle shapes and sizes do not matter as much as the cap shapes and sizes, it does still matter. Capping machinery can be designed to handle a range of both bottle and cap shapes and sizes. When this question arises, it usually means a packager has a number of different bottles and/or caps. While some modification may be necessary, such as double gripper belts on spindle capping machines for bottles that might need extra stability, capping machines can usually be modified to handle a pretty good range of bottle widths and heights. And as long as the caps are all the same type of closure, the same is true. Some machines may require change parts or adjustments from cap to cap, but a solution can normally be found for a packager in a single machine.
What level of automation do I need?
Like filling machinery, the level of automatic necessary for a capping machine will depend on a number of different factors, including, but not limited to, the amount of labor available and production demand. Many capping machines from NPACK are designed to be upgraded in the future, so that if the necessary automation level changes, the machine can also adjust to that change. Semi-automatic capping machines will always require an operator to interact with the machine for each capping cycle, while automatic equipment does not require cycle by cycle interaction, using a power conveyor to allow for bottle movement and a cap delivery system to join the bottle and cap prior to the sealing process.
How fast will the machine run?
Closely related to the level of automation is the speed of the capping machine. Again, like filling machines, an equation can usually be found for automatic capping machines to determine the number of bottles per minute (BPM) the machine will cap. In the automated process, this number can be precise, as the machine will run consistently and the conveyor will normally move at the same speed. Semi-automatic BPM, from handheld to tabletop to full frame machines, will vary depending on the performance of the operator! Though the number can be estimated, skill, work ethic, fatigue and other operator factors will affect the speed of the capping process. In many cases, smaller packagers will use handheld capping machines not to increase speed, but to ensure consistent, reliable and repeatable seals while protecting against operator fatigue and injury. When packagers have a number in mind for speed, NPACK will work with the packager to find the ideal solution to hit that number.
How much space do I need for the capping machine?
Space is always a consideration. As noted above, semi-automatic cappers can be as small as a handheld device or as large as a full-frame automatic capping machine. Semi-automatic machinery can be used just about anywhere, while automatic equipment normally works inline with other machinery such as liquid fillers, rinsing machines, labelers and more. A small space, however, does not defeat a packagers ability to set up an efficient capping process. Machine and line layouts help to ensure that the necessary space exists and custom capping equipment can be designed where space restrictions exist!
To learn more about the different capping equipment offered by NPACK, browse the capping machinery section of the website and feel free to contact NPACK with any questions.