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.
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.
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.