Guest Column | December 18, 2015

Pucks: Not Just For Unstable Bottles

By John Henry, www.changeover.com

John Henry

Pucks are common in the cosmetics industries, particularly fragrances, where they are needed to hold odd shaped bottles. Highly finished bottles are sometimes run in pucks to keep them from getting scuffed by guide rails or other bottles on the line. Pucks with metal inserts are be used with a magnetic conveyor to carry aerosol cans through a water bath to check for propellant leaks.

Less common is the use of pucks to minimize changeparts and changeover. Pucks let the line see only one size of container. Instead of changing the machines, only the pucks are changed. Contract packagers who run a highly-variable, and sometimes unpredictable, product mix can improve their responsiveness to customers. When asked to make a new product, instead of needing to buy timing screws, star wheels, and other change parts, they only need a new set of pucks. The change parts may cost $30,000 - $50,000+ and take four to eight weeks to deliver. A new set of pucks may cost as little as $5,000 and be delivered in two weeks.

Pucks are cups used to hold the jar or bottle as it is processed though the packaging line. They are generally made of injection molded plastic, but may also be machined plastic or metal or 3D printed. They come in many sizes and shapes, but generally all pucks running on a given packaging line will have the same external configuration. The internal pocket will vary as needed to accommodate the different sizes and shapes to run on the line. The internal puck height varies so that all necks are at a uniform height from tallest to shortest bottle.

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