Have you ever wondered how these cans get filled with beer? We will guide you through each step of the journey from empty to full and back again.
Step 1: Loading the Machine with Empty Cans
The process starts with rows of empty cans. Depending on the brewery or copacker’s canning machine, the cans may be fed into the machine in two ways:
Automatic canning: In a high-output automated system, a depalletizer is used to load the empty cans onto a conveyor belt in groups.
Manual canning: For manual or semi-automatic systems, the operator must feed each empty can into the machine by hand.
Regardless of the method, the empty cans arrive on the conveyor belt without tops, ready to be filled. In some cases, copackers may use pre-printed cans to skip the labeling step, but most of the time, the cans are blank, with labels added later.
Step 2: Rinsing the Interiors of the Cans
The cans are thoroughly washed before filling, whether they are brand new or recycled. They travel down a conveyor belt and into a twist rinser that looks like a rollercoaster for cans. The twist rinser flips the cans upside down and blasts them with sanitizing water, cleaning the interiors, before returning the cans to their upright position.
Step 3: Purging the Oxygen
As the cans are open, they are full of oxygen and residual water. To remove this, carbon dioxide (CO2) is pumped into each can to purge the oxygen and prevent it from affecting the beer’s flavor and shelf life.
Step 4: Filling the Cans
After purging the oxygen, the cans are ready to be filled with beer. A Teflon tube descends from above, filling the cans with the desired beer. The number of cans filled at once depends on the size and capacity of the filling station, with more filler heads allowing for more cans to be filled at once. Most machines pour slightly more than the required amount into each can to account for spillage. GX Canning offers end-to-end capabilities to fill 12oz. standard, 12oz. sleek, 16oz. standard cans, and other sizes upon request.
Step 5: Adding the Ends
The top part of the can, the end or lid, is dispensed from above and clangs onto the open cans. Some setups may have a vacuum sealing machine that sprays nitrogen into the can as the lid is added, expelling any remaining oxygen.
Step 6: Seaming the Cans
A seamer fastens the end to the rest of the can. Each full can is lifted into the seamer for double seaming, which involves two rollers rotating around the can to crimp the end and can together. Some seamers may drop the end and seam simultaneously.
Step 7: Rinsing outside of the Cans
To prevent stickiness, the outside of the cans are rinsed to remove any spillage. The cans are then carried into a blow-off tunnel for a quick burst of air to remove any remaining water before they are dried.