While capping machines are built to handle a specific cap type, almost all bottle cappers will be able to handle multiple container sizes and shapes. To require a machine for each type of bottle would obviously be inefficient and extremely costly. Instead, the machinery is built to allow adjustments to be made when switching from one bottle to another, also known as changeover.
Very few companies prepare one bottle, can or other container of their product. Instead, consumers will be given multiple choices, such as a single serve, family size or even bulk containers. Changeover occurs on the production floor when a packager finishes preparing one bottle and switches over to cap another, different bottle. One important design component when manufacturing packaging machinery is ensuring that changeover is as quick and easy as possible, as product cannot be filled, capped, labeled and otherwise made ready during changeover. Making the changeover quick and easy limits downtime and adds efficiency to the process.
Though there are some exceptions, most capping machines, automatic and semi-automatic, will only require some simple manual adjustments to change over from one bottle to another. An automatic spindle capper, for example, will include a power height adjustment to adjust - raise and lower - spindle disks, the tightening component of the machine. These disks can then be adjusted in and out with simple hand knobs to accommodate different cap widths. The height and width of the gripper belts can be moved in and out as well as up and down with hand cranks.
Automatic chuck capping machines will also use a power height switch to move capping heads up and down to accommodate different bottles. The chuck capper, however, uses a starwheel to index bottles in to position under the heads. In this case, different starwheels may be used for different bottles when the variation in size or shape is great. Simple hand knobs can be tightened and loosened to changeover from one starwheel and bottle to another.
In addition to the simple adjustments to change over the capping machine, slight adjustments using hand cranks or knobs may be necessary to adjust the cap delivery system. As different bottle sizes may require different cap sizes, these modifications may be necessary when moving from one size closure to another. Overall, though, adjustments are made free of tools, to reduce the total downtime during these switches.
Semi-automatic capping machines, on the other hand, do not include cap delivery, as these operator driven machines will require hand placement of closures prior to tightening or sealing. Height adjustment will be achieved using simple hand cranks. Spindle adjustments, bottle nest adjustments and others will be made with simple hand knobs similar to those described on the automatic machines when necessary. Again, for semi-automatic bottle cappers, the changeover will be tool-free to keep the process short and simple.
If you would like to discuss your own capping project with a Packaging Specialist, or if you have additional questions regarding the changeover process for capping machinery, contact NPACK, Inc. today.