Swan-Matic Offers Brewing Industry Tips for Successful Capping
Craft brewers spend countless hours pouring (no pun intended) their hearts and souls into the art of craft brewing to create the perfect recipe. That methodical and meticulous process shouldn’t end once the brewing is complete. The actual capping element may seem like a no-brainer, but taking short cuts with low quality or inadequate equipment could have an adverse effect on the end product. Choosing the right capping equipment may feel overwhelming. There are so many options available between a simple hand crimper, semi-automatic, to high end fully automated systems. Semi-automatic benchtop cappers fall nicely into this broad category in the middle. Models designed specifically for the beer industry deliver a reliable, consistent bottle seal with a considerably smaller investment than elaborate bottling and capping machinery. Here are a few key benefits to using a benchtop bottle capper.
- Minimizes Strain and User Fatigue
Handheld operations can be very cumbersome. Strain and user fatigue are common complaints of operational workers and often lead to more serious conditions such as carpel tunnel syndrome and repetitive motion injuries. Not only do these pose risks to workers, but can result in excessive costs to employers as well.
- Increases Productivity
Semi-automatic cappers are faster and more efficient than a manual process done entirely by hand. Hand cappers are at the mercy of the operator thus can vary greatly in speed and accuracy. Most bench top cappers offer 50-60 cycles per minute. Adding semi-automated cappers to your line is cost beneficial when you factor in time saved and efficiency gained.
- Greatly Reduces Number of Unsealed Caps
Benchtop cappers by nature offer repeatability. Repeatability translates into consistent capping and better quality control and ultimately means a better tasting brew. By decreasing the amount of unsealed caps with the use of a bench top capper, users are simultaneously reducing the risks of human error and increasing profits.
6 Tips for Successful Capping
Semi-automatic capping is often a viable choice for small to mid-level production runs. Successful capping is the most important step in preserving your hard work so that others can enjoy it. An improperly crimped cap, an unwanted bacteria or a chipped bottle neck won’t sit well with customers. Following a few simple guidelines can not only help you make a suitable capper selection, but can help to avoid problems along the way.
- Determine Your Budget and ROI By Selecting the Right Level of Automation
Overspending can start a new business off on the wrong foot. Full automation seems exciting, but inadvertently can be a huge, and often unnecessary, expenditure. Capital equipment can put a major dent in a budget, not to mention maintenance and upkeep costs that cannot be recouped. Semi automation is a solid, middle of the road investment that provides the necessary tools to improve business processes at a fraction of the cost. Benchtop cappers may not be for everyone. If operations exceed the volume the capper can handle a fully automated system may be a more appropriate fit. An experienced capper manufacturer is an excellent resource for brewers to determine what fits their needs best.
- Consider Staffing and Labor Objectives
For some, a handheld bottle crimper is deemed sufficient. For others, the monotonous action of crimping each bottle by hand ends up being more expensive over time than the upfront cost of purchasing a benchtop cap crimper. Product rejection rates and cost of labor can be greatly reduced or eliminated when handheld operations are replaced with semi-automatic machines.
- Buy Supplies & Equipment from a Home Brew Supplier
Don’t be tempted by inexpensive on-line deals that appear to be comparable to higher quality models. If it seems to be too good to be true, chances are, it is. Swan-Matic has been a leader in the capping industry for decades and decided to take a look at the competition. Swan-Matic engineers purchased an inexpensive, competitor model capper to test and analyze. Within minutes it shorted out, sparked and emitted smoke. No-name brands may be less expensive but falter in quality. Choosing to partner with industry experts not only ensures superior products and equipment but also expert advice.
- Avoid Twist Cap Bottles
Surprisingly, twist cap bottles aren’t designed for a hand held bottle capper. The threads on top of the bottles do not accommodate crimp caps easily. The threads can cause the caps to grip on an angle and sit on an angle, because the threads themselves are not exactly 90 degrees. The bottle necks themselves also tend to be a thinner glass which can result in breakage. Benchtop cappers make it possible to use twist top bottles because the capping head drives straight down on the bottle every time similar to fully automated capping line you’d see in large breweries.
- Sterilize, Sterilize, Sterilize
Contamination can be one of the biggest problems in the capping and bottling industry. To avoid contamination be certain that everything is sterile. Keeping a clean and tidy workspace is imperative in avoiding contamination and quality control issues. Selecting a capper that is wash-down compatible is always a good idea.
- If You Have to Use a Hand Crimper, Apply Steady Even Pressure
Cost is always an underlying issue. If you have to use a hand crimper due to budget constraints, do so with the utmost discretion. Stay focused on the application of each cap. When your arms are tired, take a break. Capping with multiple people in a rotation can help.
Set Up, Maintenance and ROI
Benchtop cappers require very little (if any) maintenance and can be set up within minutes. Cappers are designed to be durable machines and have been known to last generations. Due to their rugged durability, the return on investment is immeasurable.
Swan-Matic is a division of Automation Devices Inc. specializing in a full line of tooled and un-tooled vibratory feeders and components. They are located in Fairview, Pa.
- Greg Szuba
- Tags: bottle capping solutions