Purchasing packaging equipment for a new facility or a new project can be time consuming, expensive and even confusing if the process is a new one to the purchaser. With many different options available even within individual machine categories, a lack of experience and knowledge can make it difficult to choose the best equipment for the job. Unfortunately, for many just starting to package a product, be it a distilled spirit, bottled water, shampoo or any other product, terms like overflow principle, spindle capper and induction sealer probably do not hold a whole lot of meaning. Packaging machinery manufacturers can help new packagers with this task, but the analysis of packaging needs should not stop at simply choosing the correct machine type.
The initial purchase of packaging machinery should always account for the future to save both money and time for the packager. Most start up packagers have an idea of the demands that must be met once production begins. Building a packaging line to meet only these demands, though, will usually be a crucial mistake. The end goal of almost every packager is growth or expansion, additional shelf space or a wider area of circulation. By expecting growth in the future, packaging equipment can be manufactured to allow for such growth and avoid the scenario of owning essentially useless machinery after a year or two. As noted above, the cost of equipment can be a significant expense, especially for automated systems, so a new 420 packaging needs to balance their need for current cash flow against their desire to purchase equipment with a long life expectancy. Luckily, there are several ways to expand the ability of packaging machines without significantly increasing the cost of such machinery.
A few of the things to think about when purchasing packaging machinery and planning for the future:
1. Speed – Of course, the faster a machine can run, the higher the production demands that can be met. One mistake is to purchase packaging equipment that tops out at current demands. For example, a filling machine may be capable of finishing fifty bottles a minute with ten fill heads, which meets current demand for a product. However, by simply adding ports in the tank and fill bar, additional fill heads can be added in the future to accommodate higher demands. In another scenario, a company may purchase a semi-automatic filler to meet low to medium production outputs. This filler can be manufactured on the same frame as an automatic filling machine, allowing the equipment to handle a much higher output in the future if so required.
2. Different Products & Packages – Arguably, almost all packaging machinery is custom manufactured for the project at hand. Different container sizes and shapes, different cap types, product viscosity and other factors all contribute to the way a packaging line is designed. Keep in mind that if you intend to introduce different products, or even different packages for the same product, the existing packaging machinery must be able to handle these additions or a completely new line will be necessary. For example, if a packager starts with a small, one or two ounce bottle but expects to add larger bottle in the future, they should take care to ensure the power conveyor system used has the ability to adjust to handle larger container. The same is true for individual packaging machinery, such as the filler mentioned above, or capping equipment. Each machine can be manufactured to handle a range of sizes rather than merely the initial bottle or container being run.