Components of a Custom Filling Machine
Components of a Custom Filling Machine
Every liquid filling project will include unique characteristics and features, which in turn will require packaging machinery to handle these characteristics and features. As we have noted before, because each packaging project is different, every liquid filler is, in a sense, a custom machine, in that it is built specifically for the project at hand. Today we will look at a few of the features of a liquid filler that may change from project to project.
The frame used to manufacture a filling machine will change with the needs of the packaging process. A somewhat standard, portable frame will be used for most automatic machines. However, even these "standard" frames may be modified in certain circumstances. For instance, large bottles may require a width extension in order to support the manifold of the machine and get product to multiple bottles during each fill cycle. Hazardous products may require additional safeguards such as safety doors and extensive enclosures. So again, though a project may start with a standard frame, the machine will still be custom designed for the specific project at hand. Of course, not all projects will require automatic production. While portable frames can be rolled up to an existing conveyor line and put into production, other frames can be used to create stand alone filling stations, using a slide track rather than a power conveyor and requiring the operator to place and remove bottles. In fact, semi-automatic machines can even use a tabletop frame when space is limited or production demand is low.
Different filling machines will use different tanks, sometimes at different locations. For example, an overflow filler will use a re-supply or recirculation tank. This tank will be used for product returning from the overflow nozzles. Gravity filling machines will use a product supply tank that will rest over the top of the nozzles while other filling machines may or may not use tanks for product supply (though most do). The tank size, location and material will depend on a number of different factors, including the fill principle, the product, the production demands and more. So like the frame, a standard tank may exist for each type of liquid filler, but changes will likely occur based on the unique traits of each project.
3. PRODUCT PATHWAY AND NOZZLES
Of course, product needs to get from the holding tank or supply tank to the waiting bottles and containers. The product pathway is the plumbing, tubes and nozzles that are used to achieve this goal. The actual physical path taken may differ from machine to machine based on the type of fill and tank location. The materials used for plumbing and tubing may also change to meet the needs of the product. Sanitary machines will use sanitary fittings to connect the plumbing, tubing and nozzles. Tubing material itself may change to avoid undue wear and tear from a product that may break down PVC, teflon or other materials.
At the end of that product pathway is a nozzle that allows product to be efficiently dispersed into the bottle or container. Nozzles are another item that will often be custom fit to the project at hand. Nozzle sizes may change based on the size of the containers or container opening. Nozzle types may change based on the filling principle. And like the tubing, nozzle material will be chosen to complement the product while not creating undue wear and tear.
These are a few of the common areas where customization may take place on a filling machine. However, many other areas exist. Different pumps and motors may be required for certain projects. Product pathways may need to be heated for molten materials. Agitators may also be required to keep product viscosity consistent. While filling a bottle with product may seem like an easy process or concept, there are many factors to take into account to keep the fill efficient, reliable, consistent and cost-effective.