Control Panels - Liquid Filling Equipment
Control Panels - Liquid Filling Equipment
Liquid fillers are manufactured with several different filling principles. These different principles are used in order to fill products of varying viscosities, from thin, water-like products to thicker gels, creams and pastes. Though there are variations in the control panels for each of the filling principles, many of the general controls are the same or similar. This article will focus on the control panels for automatic filling machines, specifically those using a touchscreen operator interface.
The control panel for any liquid filling machine will likely include a Main Power Switch and an Emergency Stop Button (E-Stop). These switches allow for easy on/off control of power to the filling machine, including the ability to quickly stop the packaging process should a bottle jam, spill or other issue occur during the packaging process. In addition to the power controls for the liquid filler, speed and power controls for auxiliary machinery may also be found on the filler control panel. These machines may include power conveyors, turntables and other packaging equipment, creating centralized control of the packaging machines on the control panel for the liquid filling equipment.
The filling machine will also include a touchscreen operator interface that allows the user of the filler to control many different delay and duration times as well as power, speed and other functions of the filling machine components. The main screen of the operator interface will normally display a total production count for the filler as well as the infeed container count (the number of bottles to be filled each time the machine cycles). In addition, the main screen on the filler control panel will include on/off buttons for pumps, conveyors, the fill cycle itself and other major components of the filling system. Finally, the main screen includes touchscreen access to each of the interior menus to set the functions and times to allow the filling machine to operate consistently and to maximum efficiency. A brief description of these interior menus is set out below.
MANUAL TOGGLE SCREEN
This menu allows for manual control of different components of the liquid filling equipment. For example, the operator may use this screen to manually turn a pump on or off for priming, to manually dive fill heads or to manually open and close the indexing gates during the setup process. This screen can aid in troubleshooting when trying to locate a blown fuse or a bad solenoid valve. These controls, however, should always be set to auto when running production on the filling machine.
FILLER SET UP SCREEN
The filler set up screen allows different components of the filling machine to be turned on and off. On most machines, individual fill heads can be turned on and off, allowing the filling machine to function will anywhere from one to the maximum number of fill heads. The user can also choose the indexing system from this screen, or turn automatic indexing on or off as well. Other components of filling machines, such as drip trays, diving heads, float systems and vision systems can also be controlled from this screen.
ADJUST PRE-SETS SCREEN
The adjust pre-sets screen includes the delay and duration times that allow the liquid filler to consistently and accurately move and fill containers. The types of duration times will vary based on the filling principle and indexing type, but may include open and close duration for pin indexing and pump duration on pump fillers. Delay times will also vary based on the type of filler but may include, for example, a pump delay to ensure all bottles are in place before the actual fill begins. These delay and duration times will normally be factory set for the bottles supplied, but may require adjustment if new product or new container sizes are introduced at a later time.
ADJUST FILL TIMES SCREEN
Most automatic fillers will include a screen specifically for adjusting the fill times. On some filling machines, the user will have the ability to adjust the fill time for each individual fill head if necessary or desired. However, the operator will also have the ability to adjust the fill time for all fill heads at once. Some fillers will also allow the option to fill by volume, using the adjust fill times screen in conjunction with the auto set up screen discussed below.
AUTO SET UP SCREEN
The auto set up screen makes setting fill times and indexing times for different container sizes quick and easy. By lining containers up on the conveyor, indexing times can easily be obtained and saved. In addition, filling one cycle of bottles allows the operator to obtain the correct fill times. The recipe screen, described below, allows these times to be saved, so that set up need occur only once for each bottle and product combination.
The recipe screen allows for the storage of fill and indexing times for easy recall at a later date. This function is extremely useful for facilities that make short runs using a wide variety of bottle sizes or many different products. Once the set up has been completed for a bottle and product combination, it can be stored in the filler for easy recall the next time the same combination is run.
The alarm screen works as a troubleshooting assistant. If the machine is malfunctioning or simply shuts down, the alarm screen should always be checked first. The screen will alert the user to the source of the problem, such as low product supply or a possible bottle jam. Once the issue has been resolved, the alarm screen, and the filler, can easily be reset to resume production.
CLEAN IN PLACE SCREEN
Liquid fillers that include the optional clean in place system will normally also include a clean in place screen on the operator interface. This screen allows the user to turn on spray balls in the tank and open product pathways for quick and easy cleaning at the end of a production run.
In general, these screens will be available on automatic liquid fillers, though each individual machine may vary slightly in the controls and functions based on the product and the actual packaging system itself. If you would like more information on the filling machines manufactured by Liquid Packaging Solutions, click here. For more information on the control panels and functions of the filling machines, contact a Packaging Specialist toll free today at 1-888-393-3693.