A Packaging System Primer - Liquid Fillers

A Packaging System Primer - Liquid Fillers


Liquid filling machinery represents the meeting of your product and your bottle or container on your packaging system.  Containers have been presented to the conveyor system and run through the container cleaning equipment if so desired or required.  As with most packaging equipment, the package, production rate desired and the product itself will help to determine the perfect filling machine for your specific packaging system.  

FILLING PRINCIPLES

A number of different principles can be used to accomplish the task of filling bottles or containers.  Different principles may be used due to the viscosity of a product or even the size of the container being filled.  Overflow fillers are ideal for thin, free-flowing products and also work well with products that foam.  Using a unique recirculation method, the overflow filler also assures that each container is filled to the same level, regardless of small differences in the internal volume of the containers.  This results in a consistent fill that can be ideal for clear bottles and containers that will be sold from a shelf or other display.

Gravity filling machines also work well with free-flowing liquids and offer a time-based filling system.  Gravity fillers may be preferred where recirculation of the product is not desired and these filling machines also work well with corrosive products.  In fact, gravity fillers may be manufactured with an HDPE frame and contact parts specifically for corrosive chemicals such as acid and bleach.  Though best suited for non-foaming products, certain nozzles and bottom up filling on a gravity filler can help these machines handle foamy products.

Pump filling machines will use a single pump for each fill head on a liquid filler.  These filling machines are well suited to handle thicker viscosity products, with certain pumps also able to handle products with particulates, such as salad dressing and certain sauces.  

Piston filling machines can also handle thicker viscosity products such as paste and putty.  These volumetric fillers first pull a certain amount of product from the supply system before pushing the same amount out into the container.  These accurate fillers can handle a wide range of products and product viscosities, making them very versatile filling machines.

In setting up your packaging system, the ideal filling principle will be determined based on your product and package.  With certain products, several filling principles may be available and the decision will be made based on personal desire, budget, production demands and other factors.

FILLING MACHINE AUTOMATION 

Liquid filling machines can be manufactured as simple, tabletop filling machines, semi-automatic fillers or fully automated filling equipment.  Tabletop filling machines can be an economical, space saving filling technique for smaller facilities or they may serve to handle special projects and short runs for larger facilities using a number of different containers and/or products.  Tabletop fillers are available with all of the filling principles mentioned above and are generally manufactured with anywhere from one to six fill heads.  Tabletop fillers may be built with a single fill head and upgraded at a later date to the maximum number of fill heads for the given filling principle.  

Automatic filling machines will normally be a part of a completely automated packaging system.  These liquid fillers use an indexing system to move containers into and out of the fill area.  Operators of automatic fillers can use a PLC with a touchscreen interface to control fill times, indexing times and other filling machine functions.  Most of the automatic fillers can be manufactured with up to sixteen fill heads and allow for mass filling of containers in a given day.  Like tabletop filling machines, automatic liquid fillers may be manufactured with two fill heads and be upgraded to the maximum at a later date, allowing the fillers to grow with the company.

Semi-automatic liquid fillers are virtually identical to automatic liquid fillers with the exception of the indexing system.  Semi-automatic machines allow a filling station to be set up in a production area that, while not fully automatic, requires more production than can be handled by a tabletop filling machine.  Operators of a semi-automatic filling machine are required to load bottles onto a conveyor or into the fill area, but the filling machine does the rest.  Semi-automatic liquid fillers may be upgraded to automatic filling machines by adding an indexing system and making certain upgrades to the PLC.

By carefully selecting the filling principle and the automation level necessary, Liquid Packaging Solutions can help to manufacture the ideal filling machine for each unique customer.  Of course, there are always special cases that require custom packaging equipment, including special liquid fillers (for example, flammable products will require explosion proof equipment).  If you have questions regarding which liquid filling machinery will best suit your needs, or if you would just like additional information on liquid fillers, contact Liquid Packaging Solutions, Inc. toll free at 1-888-393-3693.



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