While there are many settings and adjustments on the machine, common sense tells us that to perform efficiently, these types of packaging machines must have bottles in place on a consistent basis. Moving bottles into and out of the rinse or fill area is known as indexing, and without the help of the PLC, setting up the indexing could become an incredibly tedious and time consuming task.
The operator interface on these packaging machines will allow the operator of the machine to access an automatic set up screen. In addition, once the automatic setup has been completed for a given bottle, the packaging machine PLC can store the indexing times for easy recall in the future. This is especially useful for facilities that run a great variety of bottle shapes and sizes.
One of the most common types of indexing for container cleaning equipment and filling machines is known as pin indexing. Pin indexing consists of an entry gate and an exit gate. The entry gate will open to allow the correct number of containers to enter the rinse or fill area, then close to stop additional bottles from moving forward. The exit gate will act to hold the bottles in place during the rinse or fill, then open move the cleaned or filled bottles down the conveyor system.
To set up indexing times using pin indexing, the operator will simply line up a given number of containers to the left of the entry gate (for a left to right packaging system). With the entry gate holding the containers back, the conveyor can be powered up and the operator then simply presses the start automatic set up button to start the process.
From here the packaging machine takes over, using a sensor to count the correct number of bottles and opening and closing the entry and exit gates as necessary. Once the process is complete, the operator can save the indexing time for automatic production runs. Changes can be made to the indexing times if necessary, and the automatic set up of the rinser or filler can be repeated, but this simple process should result in the consistent, repeatable indexing times necessary to automatically rinse or fill containers.