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The A-Z of Bottling Equipment

2 2020

Soda bottling has undergone a transformation over the years – from involving a few items in a basement, to automatic packaging machines in the 21st century. 

Now there are countless machinery options out there.

At RC Cola, we know the bottling industry inside and out. We are on top of the latest equipment and many of our bottlers come to us for advice when investing in new machinery. We’re delighted to share with you this A to Z guide to choosing what equipment is right for you.

A - Adiabatic Cooling System

The adiabatic cooling system expels heat derived during the bottling process, with closed-circuit adiabatic coolers that cool the temperature lower than ambient temperatures. 

B - Bottle Coding

Whether printing on glass bottles, soft drink cans or plastic bottles, a coding machine is used to imprint the expiration date, batch number, and other information on the label. The best solutions are fast and are a means of increasing productivity, improving the presentation of your beverage portfolio, and reducing downtime.

C - Capping Machines

The capping machine provides a cap for each bottle, creating a secure seal. Automatic capping machines use a cap delivery system to allow continuous sealing of the bottles, as they are pulled along the packaging line. In some places, a nitrogen purge system is used before the capping process. This gives the beverage a longer shelf life and preserves taste and color.

D - High Velocity Dryer

A high velocity dryer blows the moisture off bottles after they go through a warming process. The dry bottles can then continue with final packaging operations, such as shrink sleeve labeling.

E - Eight Packs

To create six packs, eight packs, or other types of combinations of multiple bottles, shrink wrap bundlers and heat tunnels can be used.

F - Filling Machines

In a filling machine, bottles are moved – using a conveyor – under filling valves that inject the liquid into them. The more effective filling machines have a system that stops the valves from working if no bottle is under them.

G - Overflow Fillers and Gravity Fillers

The most commonly used bottle fillers are overflow fillers and gravity fillers. Overflow fillers fill bottles to a consistent level, and can handle foaming. Gravity fillers work differently, facilitating an economic, time-based fill that also handles free-flowing liquids, with components to handle foaming. They use a programmable logic controller (PLC) and intuitive interface to record duration times for specific bottles.

For advice on selecting the right new technology for you check out our eBook here.

H - Hot Fill

Hot filling involves injecting a hot liquid into a container and then inverting it, allowing the heat to sterilize the container and the cap. High-acid foods appropriate for hot filling include products with a pH of less than 4.6.

I - Initial Water Treatment

Water that is used for bottling beverages goes through several chemical and filtration steps. Beverage bottling usually starts with municipal tap water, which is drinkable, but generally has an element of “hardness” – deposits of heavy metals – usually from the pipes that transport the water. This has an impact on the water’s taste. Bottlers may choose to use water softeners or a reverse osmosis system to create pure, potable water – before adding their own unique mixture of minerals, metals, carbon dioxide, sugars, syrups, and food colorings.

J - FILL-JET Machines

FILL-JET machines are designed for filling carbonated and still soft drinks. They are modular machines used to fill containers of different shapes and sizes of plastic or glass, for outputs of up to 50,000 bottlers per hour (bph). 

K - Turn-Key Bottling Equipment

Complete turnkey bottling lines offer a complete packaging solution for all products in your beverage portfolio. Turnkey is a product that is ready for use. Many equipment companies offer different custom packaging machines, both automatic and semi-automatic, to provide each bottler with the appropriate solution. Vendors should test turnkey systems using the bottler’s bottles, product, caps, labels, and other components used in packaging to check the reliability of the solution before shipping machinery to its destination.

L - Labeling Machines

Labeling machines provide the ability to apply customized logos and other text and images to bottles before shipping them out. Labeling machinery can apply clear, paper, or Mylar labels. Labeling equipment can be integrated with a complete production line, or it can be used as standalone equipment. Some beverages have a wrap label, which involves an automatic pressure sensitive labeler, but other types such as simple front labels, front and back labels, panel labels, and other customized patterns are also common.

M – Bottle Unscrambler Machine

These machines orientate the bottle correctly so that it can continue the bottling process correctly. They are an essential piece to many bottling lines.

N - Nozzle

Overflow filling machines rely on the nozzles used to create a level fill for each bottle. These nozzles have an inner and outer tube, and use a spring to compress the tube. Note that nozzles work differently for cans and bottles: a can filler will have a nozzle that extends down to the bottom of the container. A bottle filler fills in the neck and lets the product flow down the walls of the bottle or nitrogen purge system.

O - Inline Oxygen Meter 

Many soft drinks contain fruit juices and vitamins, which are often subject to oxidation. When there are high levels of dissolved oxygen in soda and other soft drinks the beverage’s taste and aroma may be altered and there may be discoloration. To avoid this an inline oxygen meter is used to test that the levels are correct to ensure the quality and the shelf life of the drink. 

P - Power Conveyers

Conveyors move the bottles under filling valves, which inject the liquid into them. They are available in a wide array of configurations – in different lengths, widths, shapes, and materials. The modular design of most standard conveyors allows ongoing adaptation and extension of existing production lines.

Q - Quantity

Certain equipment is particularly efficient for packaging bulk quantities of products. Each plant needs to choose the machinery that is most effective for the quantity of bottles being produced.

R - Rotary Blow Molder

Rotary blow molding machines for producing plastic soda bottles can be used to improve output rates and performance. They are designed to assure high process flexibility at the highest production rates.

S - Shrink Sleeve Labeler

Shrink sleeve labelers provide a 360-degree display of graphics and text. When the film is heated, the label shrinks. Because the film is flexible, the technology can work with almost any shape or size.

T - Tabletop Machines

Electronic automatic filling machines range in size – from portable, table-top machines to industrial size systems, to meet the needs of each bottler. Tabletop machinery is ideal for packaging facilities with limited production space.

U - Uni-Frame Filling System

Uni-frame filling systems normally include a semi-automatic filling machine, but allow the beverage packager to add other machinery to the frame. Uni-frame machines compact the different components of the packaging system – making it possible for a single operator to complete multiple functions.

V - Bottle Vacuums

Bottle vacuums are used to remove contaminants from the bottle before the beverage is introduced – so that the consumer receives a safe, clean product. Bottles are inverted over a rinse basin to remove debris or a nozzle is used to first loosen debris and then vacuum out the waste.

Cleanliness is crucial on the beverage bottling manufacturing floor and Clean in Place (CIP) cleaning systems are used for cleaning piping, tanks, pumps, and other components that are left in place, and not disassembled during interior cleaning. Modern CIP systems minimize water, chemical, and energy use.

W - Warming Tunnels

For carbonated beverages and many other kinds of drinks, the bottles are filled at low temperatures. As a result, the bottles sweat – and cannot be labeled or packaged – until they are brought to a temperature above the dew point. To bring bottle temperature up, a warming tunnel is used. 

X - X-Ray Fill Inspection

X-rays can be used for fill level inspection, e.g., detecting the filling level of cans coming from a cans’ filler machine.

Y - Your Company

Every company has different needs! Make sure to choose the bottling equipment that is right for you. This involves a process of defining your company’s needs and your budget, and exploring which solutions are most closely aligned with what you are looking for.

Z - Zero Error

Bottling machinery is expensive and in many cases you don't have much room for error by making the wrong purchase. RC Cola can advise you before you proceed with purchasing from your manufacturer.

Want to learn more? Join the RC Cola family by becoming an RC Cola bottler today!


Soda Bottling Is Not One Size Fits All – Our Team Can Guide You on Where to Start and Where to Purchase.

With the wide range of available kinds of bottling equipment, bottlers can be at a loss as to where to start. That’s where RC Cola can help, we have the bottling knowhow that can help you make these difficult decisions. We can advise you on what machinery makes sense for you before you go ahead and purchase from your supplier. We offer 360° support in all aspects, from marketing to research and development to quality control. Schedule a consultation meeting with an RC expert today to learn how you can become a bottler.