Bulk Feeding of Caps and Lids Lowers Cost and Increases Throughput

Often overlooked as a minor area of consideration, the process of feeding caps and lids into a capping machine is turning out to be an important area for boosting efficiency and productivity on a bottling line. Whether your organization is planning a new packaging line or looking for a cost effective means of improving an existing one, investigate bulk cap feeding systems as an alternative to individual case feeding. In the right application, a bulk feeding system can:

  • Reduce labor and material handling
  • Cut down the incidence of repetitive motion and other lost-time injuries
  • Create a cleaner environment around the capping operation
  • Improve sustainability measurements
  • Increase throughput
  • Lower overall cost

Case feeding dissected

To understand when, where, and why to consider bulk feeding of caps, it is necessary to look closely at the steps taken in case feeding. The process begins when an operator takes a corrugated shipping case, containing something close to 40 pounds of caps per case, from a pallet. He or she slits the case with a box cutter and opens an inner poly bag. Since most sorting and orientation systems are gravity fed, the operator climbs a ladder and dumps the case-sized load of caps into a feed bowl at the top of the cap sorter. Later, the operator separates the poly bag from the corrugated case, places the bag in one receptacle, and knocks down the box for recycling.

The burden of keeping sorters filled with caps is relatively light when running small cap sizes at low line speeds, whereby the operator may have to repeat the opening, climbing, dumping, and disposing process only two or three times an hour. To maintain a production line running large size caps or a line running at high speeds, he or she may be up and down the ladder every few minutes handling full cases of closures in order to keep the cap sorter adequately supplied.

A number of issues arise from this labor intensive process. The likelihood of repetitive motion injuries and other lost-time accidents from falls and cuts increases. The operator has less time to monitor the capping machine and ensure maximum throughput. As case after case is slit open and then broken down, fiber- based dust particles fly into the air. Full cases have to be moved into the area by a forklift or hand truck, and recyclables and waste packaging taken out. These operations are not only labor intensive and require a large amount of space, but also stir up more dust...