Packaging Machinery Versatility Important for Contract Packaging
Versatility in packaging machinery is important to just about any company using that machinery. Very few companies will package a single product in a single container at the same production rate over the life of the company or product. Most businesses are about growth, if not product expansion. For these reasons, packaging equipment such as liquid fillers, capping machines and even conveyor systems must be designed and built to handle a range of products, containers, caps, labels and other components whenever possible.
While every packager benefits from versatility in design and function, contract packagers may need that range more than any other packager in general. As the name suggests, these packagers contract with other companies to fill, cap, label and otherwise prepare the other companies products for the shelf. Not only will a contract packager look to add to their packaging duties, but the products, packages and components will likely change more often than the typical packager with their own line of products. As looking for new packaging machinery for every contract would be very cost inefficient, contract packagers generally look for those machines that can be used for more than one product type.
Filling machinery can be manufactured to handle a wide range of products, including both thick and thin products. However, different machines have different limits. As a general rule, overflow fillers and gravity fillers are good for thin, free-flowing products while pump fillers and piston fillers handle thicker liquids better. A contract packager will want a machine that can handle the range of products that they fill. On rare occasions, filling machines have even been designed and manufactured to use more than one filling principle to create a versatile and efficient solution for filling products both thick and thin. However, most contract packagers will use more than one machine as they will work to fill more than one contract at a time.
Capping machines, of course, depend on the type of closure being used on a container. Different types of bottle cappers would be used, for example, on a container with a screw on type cap and a container with a cork, snap on cap or other type of closure. Again, some custom machinery can be designed and manufactured, such as the spindle and snap capper, but most contract packagers would have more than one type of capping machine to handle their different contracts. The machines themselves would handle a range of the same cap types however. While a spindle capper handles screw on type caps, it can usually accommodate flat screw on caps, flip tops, trigger sprayers, pumps and other variations of these closures.
Labeling equipment can be custom manufactured to apply stickers in a number of different formats, including front and back, wrap, panel and others. Custom labeling machines work well for contract packagers as they can not only handle a wide range of bottles, but a wide range of label types as well. As with any packaging machine, the labeler will need to be adjusted for each new container, and containers with unique sizes or shapes may cause issues.
In addition to the different machine types, different levels of automation are available for all equipment. However, contract packagers often put an emphasis on speed, as one finished contract means another, new contract can be undertaken. For this reason, contract packagers will usually employ automatic equipment, though some will use semi-automatic machines for special runs or smaller output contracts. As with any customer, the ideal equipment for a contract packager will depend on a number of factors. However, the ability to grow and the versatility of the machinery becomes even more important in a packaging setting where the components of the project are constantly changing.