If you have been to a liquor store recently, a bin or even a 12-pack of mini bottles may have caught your eye. For DIY mixologists, the smaller option stands out as a fun way to experiment with the latest drink recipe from social media or an easy premeasured shot to add to a cocktail. Known as mini bottles, shooters, airplane bottles or nips, whatever you call these 50 mL bottles, more and more alcohol producers are seeing the value in offering their product in this way.
Despite the convenience they provide to the customers, mini bottles often create unique challenges while in production. In comparison to the 750 ml standard bottles, packaging mini bottles requires extra attention to detail to ensure proper bundling for sale. The larger bottles are typically filled and then packed directly into a shipping case, but a smaller bottle size necessitates an extra step. To secure the mini bottles, manufacturers also need to shrink bundle or wrap the bottles in 8-, 10- or 12-packs before they are packed into shipping cases.
With the growth in this segment of the market, distillers are looking at ways to increase automation of the mini lines, and wrapping machines must rise to the challenges of bottle handling, market demand and processing different film types.
As the product gets smaller, so does the possible margin of error. This makes precision throughout the machine critical when wrapping or bundling mini bottles for casing. Product feeding, arranging, and wrapping must all be designed with both the size of the product and required packaging orientation in mind.
The OVS-514 from Texwrap achieves this with shooter-specific design elements in several features. As the light-weight bottles are fed onto the belt, a bar along the side protects them from tipping. They are then processed through a timing screw that delivers perfectly spaced products for grouping and wrapping. Before they are bundled together, the bottles run through a photo eye sensor that can detect downed or misplaced products and prevent improper bundling or bottles getting stuck in the machine. All these modifications work together to keep these smaller products from causing major packaging headaches.
Designing equipment around the product is key to keeping jams and stoppages to a minimum, but the machine also needs to be designed to handle the pace of production. One of the major benefits of automation is increasing throughput to keep up with product demand. This has proven to be particularly useful in packaging mini bottles as their popularity continues to increase.
The specific required throughput may vary depending on the application, but companies looking to automate should be sure to invest in a wrapper or bundler robust enough for the current rate and any potential growth. To meet the varying needs across the industry, Texwrap machines are available in several speeds and can run up to 24 hours a day, seven days a week to provide the capacity distillers require.
Wrapping or bundling mini bottles can serve one of two purposes. For most applications, this secures the bottles together for loading into a box. Once these packages arrive at the retailer, mini bottles are taken out of the wrapping and individually shelved for sale. When this is the case, the film is purely functional, so most producers will opt for plain, clear wrapping.
The other option is that the wrapped mini bottles are placed directly on the shelves to be sold as a multipack. Though less common, this is growing in popularity and is often seen in liquor stores around holidays, for promos or simply to offer another option for the customers. For these packages, the film needs to be retail-ready, and the machine that runs it needs to have
the proper timing mechanism for printed, clean-looking film options.
Texwrap offers an auto film splicer on the OVS-514 that can hold two rolls of plain or printed film at a time. In addition to this feature ensuring that the print is placed correctly, it also allows rolls to be switched out without interrupting the flow of production.
To learn more about how these and other features can help “boost your spirits,” talk to a Texwrap representative today.