Retorted Beverages Now Possible in Plastic Bottles

With the recent advents of improved bottle and closure design coupled with advances in the handling and processing of these bottles throughout the retort process, consumers can now enjoy retorted beverages packaged in plastic bottles with re-sealable plastic closures. Not long ago, retorted beverages were only available in steel cans with seamed ends which required a can opener to gain access to the product inside. As demands for these beverages have grown, their packaging has evolved to provide improved benefits to consumers. “Pop-Top” ends were added to cans, steel was replaced by aluminum, glass bottles were introduced having metal PT closures for wide mouth openings and roll-on aluminum closures for smaller 38mm and 28mm openings. Today however, processors now have the choice of packaging their beverages in plastic bottles with composite plastic/metal caps. These exciting new packages deliver the consumer benefits of an easy opening cap with improved tamper evidency that is also easily re-closed on a bottle that has an attractive shape and is lightweight and shatterproof.

With all of the benefits that a plastic container delivers to the brand owner, packager and consumer, it brings with it a number of processing, handling and application challenges to the manufacturer of the capping machinery. High speed beverage lines can operate at speeds approaching 1000 bottle per minute. At these speeds the capper is challenged with capturing a filled, uncapped bottle being discharged from the filler and must convey it into the capper for cap application without spilling a drop of product. To prevent the spillage of product from the bottles, Zalkin has developed a Tangential Infeed® Capper that borrows from the container handling techniques of a can seamer. With a Tangential Infeed® Capper, the traditional infeed starwheel is eliminated which allows a straight line infeed of bottles directly into the capping turret. In this way, cap application can begin before a significant change in direction occurs to the bottle that would result in product spillage due to centrifugal force.

To successfully handle bottles at high speeds, Zalkin has developed an electronic synchronization system that positively links the position of the filler with the position of the capper and allows the two machines to be operated synchronously. Bottles exiting the filler are discharged directly into a pocket of the transfer screw of the capper that controls the bottle’s position through the infeed of the capper. This positive handling means that once the filler captures an empty container, it is kept under absolute control until it is filled, capped and discharged from the filler/capper system...