For any packaging operation machines exist to do the work of each stage more quickly and with less or no manpower.
Case Packers – Automatic case packers can be very beneficial to a brewer who produces either cans or bottles. In either case, the case packer should be designed to accumulate a series of bottle configurations so as to maximize production throughout. Configurations of 12, 24 or 36 cans are common. Bottles are most often packaged in 6, 12 or 24 packs.
Typically, the filled can or bottle is delivered to the case packer by way of an automatic conveyor. Once delivered, cans or bottles are then configured into their respective packages ie. 2×6, 6×4, 6×6. After assembled into the end configuration, cans and bottles are typically drop packed into a corrugated tray or box. By utilizing this technology, R.O.I., on some systems, can be less than 1 year.
Shrink-wrap Systems – Shrink wrapping technology uses “shrink film”, to securely wrap configurations of cans or bottles in one master-pack. Shrink film is a polymer plastic material that when heated, shrinks tightly around the desired package. Configurations of bottles or cans pass through a heat tunnel to shrink the film around each package. This method of packaging greatly reduces material costs and helps to automate packing which results in lower labor costs.
Shrink-wrapping technology has been around for many years. The use of plastic wrap shrink material improves the marketability of a product at the retail level because the packages design and logo are visible through clear film. Shrink wrapped cans or bottles can more easily be identified through the transparent film while stored near Tap Rooms or Retail outlets.
Stretch Wrappers – Stretch-wrap is a highly stretchable plastic film commonly made from linear low-density polyethylene that is wrapped around pallets of beer or cans. The elastic recovery, after being stretched, keeps the items tightly bound.
Stretch film is commonly used to wrap products on pallets and secure them to each other and the pallet. This helps to reduce products loss, discourage load tampering, and reduce worker injury. There are a variety of widths, thicknesses, and types of stretch film.
Bottle Depalletizer – Generally speaking, a Bottle Depalletizer is a machine that removes bottles or cans from a multi-layered product pallet and onto an automatic palletizer or other means of conveyance.
Palletizer – A palletizer is a machine which provides automatic means for stacking cases of packaged beer bottles or cans onto a standard shipping pallet. Manually placing boxes on pallets is time consuming and expensive. Manual stacking also adds undue stress to workers and increases the risk of liability claims. The first elementary palletizers became popular in the late 1940’s. In the early 1950’s Row-forming became the preferred method of palletizing as production requirements increased. With row-forming applications bottles and cans were arranged in a row forming area and then moved onto an adjacent area where layer forming would take place. This process was repeated until a full layer of products would be configured prior to being placed on a pallet. High speed In-line palletizers were developed in the 1970s when industry demands required a more effective way of handling mass production. In-Line systems utilize a continuous motion flow divider that guides the products to pre-determined areas and automatically configures these packages in the correct orientation prior to palletizing. Currently, Robotic palletizers are used in many industries where reduced costs and increased safety concerns have become a driving force. In most cases a robotic system utilizes a customized “End Arm Tool” to grab the product from a conveyor or layer table and position it onto a designated pallet.