With the continuous growth of the craft beer market, especially in the U.S., the need for an efficient and cost-effective beer canning line is also increasing. Canning plays an essential role in craft beer production. It allows packagers to produce reliable packaging and unique labels that will stand out and draw customers to their products. It is important for packagers to learn about beer canning line. This blog will give you basic equipment and system in a beer canning line. Read on!
When setting up a beer canning line, you will need to have the following beer can machines:
Beer packaging lines usually use wet can rinsers that use water or a cleaning solution supplied by the packager. These machines clean cans before they proceed to the beer filler, seamer, labeler, and other packaging equipment.
A beer filling machine is used to fill cans with the beer product that is contained in a tank. These machines can have varying numbers of nozzles that can fill a specific amount of cans per fill cycle. The more nozzles the machine has, the more cans it can fill in every cycle.
Can seamer machines are used to create hermetic seals between the tin-plated steel lid and the beer can’s body after the filling process. These leak-proof seams are created through the double seaming process. Can seamers can have multiple seaming heads to achieve different production capacities.
These machines are used to print and apply labels on the beer cans. Businesses with large inventories will need automatic beer labeling equipment for faster production. Labelers are also used to comply with the labeling standards set for the industry.
Aside from the above-mentioned machines, you will also need a depalletizer in your production line especially if you are packaging large numbers of cans per cycle. Depalletizers are machines that provide automatic means of unloading empty cans of beer from pallets. Afterward, the machine transports them to the start of the packaging line. Doing this manually can be time-consuming.
Every type of beer canner that completes the beer canning line has its own function in the packaging process. The beer canning line can be considered as a single complex machine composed of different stations with innumerable nozzles, cables, hoses, and sensors. There are machines that can be operated by a single person. But, it is better if there are two even if it is a fully automated one.
In the beer canning process, one operator keeps watch of the production line and ensure that the can fillers produce accurate and consistent fills. Another operator supplies empty cans to be packaged into the start of the line either manually or through a depalletizer for bulk productions.
Meanwhile, at the end of the production line, the filled and sealed beer cans are packed into cases and palletized for delivery. However, the production capacity of the line will depend on the automation level of the machines the packager uses. For a clearer picture of the beer canning process, below are the major steps that happen in the production line.
Depending on the type of machine the line has and the packager’s production demand, this step can be done manually or automatically. For manual and semi-automatic canners, the operator needs to feed the cans into the start of the line by hand.
Meanwhile, for automatic machines with high production capacities, the operator needs to use a depalletizer to supply bulk amounts of empty cans into a conveyor. This conveyor will direct the cans to every station of the production line for packaging until it reaches the end of the line.
The empty cans are fed by gravity into a rinsing machine (twist rinser). This machine rotates the cans upside down then sprays the inside with sanitizing water before rotating them back onto their upright position.
After the rinsing process, the empty cans move to another station where they are cleared of oxygen. This is done by tubes that fill the cans with carbon dioxide.
Next, the empty cans proceed to the filling station. The can filler’s heads descend and dispense the beer product into a certain number of cans. This number depends on the number of heads the machine has.
After the filling process, the foaming cans will move under the can sealer’s cap chute which deposits a lid on top of the passing cans. Some beer canning lines will use nitrogen filling vacuum sealing machines. These machines push the remaining oxygen out of the filled cans by spraying nitrogen inside them as the lid drops.
Then, a pneumatic arm will push each lid-can combination onto the seaming station. The seamer will spin the can and crimp the lid’s rim to create an airtight double seam.
The sealed cans will proceed to the inspection unit which will identify under-filled cans and removes them from the conveyor. The properly-filled cans will undergo another rinsing process to rinse off the overflowing beer from their exteriors before proceeding to a blow-off tunnel. In this tunnel, droplets of moisture are blown off from the rinsed cans.
The dried cans are then printed and labeled with the help of can labeling machines. These machines ensure the application of long-lasting prints and wrap-around labels. They also print dates, batch codes, and others to the cans.
For small productions, the operator manually applies plastic rings on top of the cans in 4 or 6 packs. For bigger enterprises, a machine automatically does this. Then, these are manually packed into boxes or using a packing machine. These boxes are then palletized and are now ready for delivery.
Mobile canning systems are temporary canning lines set up by breweries to can their product and leave afterward. They are ideal for small businesses with low-volume productions who can’t afford to invest in their own canning lines. They also come in manual, semi-automatic, and automatic designs.
Manual canning systems are operated by hand and require a lot of interaction with the operator. They come in portable frames so you can easily move them from one place to another like mobile canning systems. These are usually used for home productions and other small production requirements.
Unlike manual canning systems, semi-automatic canning systems require a power source. If your production requirements increase a bit, you can opt for these systems. But, you will still need to do some manual work though not that often like in manual canning systems.
These systems are fully automated and often come in large sizes. Human interaction is not needed very often. But, of course, they will still need to monitor the canning process to ensure that all is going well.