What is a Bottling Line?

B. Turner

A bottling line is a series of manufacturing machines designed to work together to bottle liquids or beverages. These lines may be found at beverage-making facilities, including wine and soft drink manufacturers, as well as companies that bottle medicines and cleaning supplies. Each bottling line may be based on a custom design to meet the needs of each specific product. A bottling line may include human labor at one or more points along the line, or may be completely automated using robots and equipment from start to finish.

One part of the bottling line adds a cap to filled bottles.
One part of the bottling line adds a cap to filled bottles.

While bottling lines differ by product and manufacturer, many lines include the same basic components, or stations. Each station is responsible for one or more steps within the bottling process. Most start with a station where empty bottles are loaded into a conveyor belt or other machine. From here, the bottles go through a cleaning process, and are subject to vacuuming to remove all air so the bottle can be filled. Afterward, the bottles pass through a filling station, which may include a rotary or in-line filling device.

Because it isn't cost effective for them, some small breweries do not bottle their beers.
Because it isn't cost effective for them, some small breweries do not bottle their beers.

Once the bottles are filled with liquid, some may be vacuumed once more to remove excess air. This step is particularly important with things like wine, where oxygen left in the bottle can impact flavor and quality. Next, the bottles pass through a machine that applies a cap or cork to seal the container. They then travel through a labeling machine, where stamps or labels are applied. Finally, the bottles are packed and wrapped on a pallet to prepare for shipping.

The layout of these machines can vary, and manufacturers often arrange bottling line equipment based on specific production goals. Machines should be arranged to minimize mistakes and enhance productivity or flow. Many bottling line systems include special quality control measures to spot problems or foreign objects. Some include sensors or weighing machines to detect bottles that are over- or under-filled. Others rely on visual inspection as the bottles move through the machines, or prior to packaging.

These lines allow large beverage companies to quickly and efficiently bottle goods and prepare them for shipping. Without bottling equipment, these firms would be unable to meet demand for popular beverages and other liquid products. Automated lines also help to reduce dependence on human laborers, which helps cut production costs. Bottling line equipment may not make sense for small breweries or other smaller firms, however. These machines require a substantial upfront investment, and may be more expensive than simply bottling smaller batches by hand.

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Discussion Comments


I wonder if anyone remembers one of the most famously featured bottling lines was at the mythical Shotz Brewery in the TV show "Laverne and Shirley." These scenes were actually filmed in the real Schlitz Brewery on their bottling line.

Most people don't remember many of the other scenes, but they remember the scene in the opening credits where Laverne puts her glove on the bottle as it goes down the line.

People are just fascinated by how things are made. There's even a TV show devoted to that, too.


Years ago, when you toured the Jack Daniels Distillery, you could go into the bottling plant and watch the operation. It was absolutely fascinating. Unfortunately, because of health regulations, you can't do that anymore. You get to watch a video of the process, which is fine, but I'd rather go back into the plant and watch it live. It was so very interesting.

I'm not sure how all the bottle filling equipment works, but it's one of those processes that is endlessly fascinating.

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