Capping Machines – 5 Aspects of Control Systems and Automation

Bottle capping machines play a critical role in the liquid filling and packaging lines. They are responsible for orienting, applying, and capping the containers. Depending on the product type, container design, and industry specifications, how you should cap your products may vary. 

Capping machinery comes in different designs, each with its use cases. Some cappers are semi-automatic, while others are wholly automatic. The semi-automatic type requires the operator to place the caps in the feeder system. Afterward, the machine will cap the container and ensure a tight fit.

On the other hand, wholly automated cappers handle everything from cap sorting and selection to capping. The other features of automatic capping machines include cap orientation and feed systems. Some of the most modern machines are adaptable to glass, plastic, and metal containers. They also feature quick changeover with little to no tools, thanks to ergonomic design and intuitive controls.

That said, here are the five aspects of control systems and automation that you’ll find in automated capping machines.

1.  High-Speed Operation 

This is one of the obvious reasons why businesses are turning to automated capping machines. Manual capping is too slow and inconsistent, limiting the production capacity. Most companies that look forward to expanding their manufacturing resiliency have invested in automatic capping machines. 

That said, a fully automatic capping machine is a priority for a business that produces liquid products on a large scale. By automating the pick, place, and cap operations, it’s possible to achieve higher throughput. This translates to a higher production rate, increased efficiency, and more revenue generated. Similarly, high-end controls ensure there’s a consistent cap torquing in every packaging line. 

2.  High Accuracy Sensor Technology 

Sensor technology is one of the automation aspects that are prevalent with capping machines. Automatic capping machines come with high-precision sensors that allow for the accurate positioning of the caps. These sensors ensure the cap and the bottle are aligned for quick operation. 

Advanced technologies such as custom optics and Nanoelectronics allows for this level of sophistication. The benefit of these sensor technologies is that they streamline the capping operations. This makes packaging faster and less prone to errors.

3.  Motion Control

Bottle capping machines in the market are often Gen 3 with great motion control. These machines, unlike Gen 1, are more automated with a significant reduction in mechanical parts. This is to say that they incur less wear and maintenance costs hence higher productivity.

A decade ago, capping machines came with one main motor with chains, gearboxes, pulleys, etc. But not today. Nowadays, servo motors are taking over, making motion control quite effective. Servo control further allows for customization of the speed and even direction of motion. This makes capping operations quite versatile. 

4.  Distributed Control 

Apart from efficient motion control, automation has also allowed for distributed control. This is where each line section or machine has its separate control system. So, imagine you want to change the packaging requirements of station one without affecting that of station two. To achieve this, you’ll need separate control points to effect specific changes.

This level of control scalability is possible throughout the packaging line, thanks to control systems and automation. The benefit of distributed control is that you can achieve equipment effectiveness.   

5.  Added Flexibility 

Last but not least is the level of flexibility that comes with high-end automation and controls. An advanced capping machine allows for easy switching of caps and container types. This level of flexibility is possible thanks to a sophisticated control architecture. Over the years, PLCs have been the widely accepted control systems. But recently, there’s been rapid adoption of software-based and PC-based controls. 

Regardless of the type, all these frameworks meet the customer needs, i.e., added flexibility. More often, automated bottle capping machines are the only ones capable of this high-end flexibility. Incorporating this technology into an ordinary capping machine can be quite costly. That said, those that have it installed can handle different container types and sizes.

Choosing the Right Automation Partner 

Compared to both manual and semi-automatic capping machines, fully automatic cappers are pretty efficient. They have greater versatility, thanks to their easily configurable and electronically controlled design. The ease of adjusting the use specifications and parameters for rotation makes production quite convenient. High-end controls and automation further enhance capping operations, allowing for endless customization. 

If you are a business owner looking for a capping machine, the first thing is to understand your needs. For small-scale production with a limited possibility of expansion, you can go for a semi-automatic machine. But for medium and large-scale production, a fully automatic capper is your best bet. Always pay attention to the machine quality, manufacturer’s reputation, and industry-specific regulations. For example, food production requires sterile packaging, and not all machines are designed to support such specifications. 

Similarly, you want to let your manufacturer understand your unique needs so they can customize the machine to suit them. It would also be best to see the machine in action, so you know the machine’s working principle, space requirements, etc.