Distill and Fill - The Two Top Choices
Over the days of the American Distilling Institutes Conference, one of the most frequently asked questions was which filling machine is best suited for distilled spirits. Though we have covered the topic previously, the successful conclusion of the 2016 ADI show seems a good time to revisit the issue.
A number of different principles exist for filling liquid products from thin, water-like beverages to thicker items like honey, pastes and gels. In almost all cases, distilled spirits more closely resemble the thinner, less viscous products. This being the case, one of two filling principles will almost always be used for the industry - the gravity filler or the overflow filler.
A gravity filling machine, as the name suggests, takes advantage of gravity to move liquid in to waiting containers. In very general terms, product is kept in a tank over the fill heads and the heads will open for a set amount of time to fill based on volume. At Liquid Packaging Solutions, gravity filling machines can be manufactured as tabletop, semi-automatic and automation equipment, with each machine capable of utilizing multiple fill heads. LPS will build gravity fillers to allow the time to be set for each individual head, rather than a single fill time for each head, allowing for an even more accurate volumetric fill.
Overflow fillers fill to a level rather than by a specific volume. Nozzles dive to seal over the bottle opening and release product into the bottles until the liquid reaches a certain level. Once that level is reached, product will "overflow" back into the supply tank, leaving each container filled to the same level regardless of interior volume. This can be a great benefit for products packaged in clear containers, adding to the aesthetic value when placed on the shelf! Of course, in the distilled spirits industry, there is a certain tolerance for each bottle, and distillers must be within the tolerance as to volume. Though this is very rarely an issue with the overflow filling machine, distillers are encouraged to check with their bottle manufacturers to ensure that the interior volume of individual containers will not include large discrepancies from one bottle to the next.
Just like the gravity fillers, overflow machines can be built as tabletop, semi-automatic or automatic machines, with multiple heads to assist in more efficient production and the ability to upgrade the machines in the future. In most cases, either filling machine will work for any given spirit. However, many distillers do opt for clear or semi-transparent bottle, which has made the overflow filler the more popular of the two in our experience. The added benefit of a consistent line across the shelf once product is ready to for the customer gives the overflow filler that slight edge over the gravity filling machine.
To learn more about either filling machine, or filling machines for other products, feel free to contact Liquid Packaging Solutions directly at 1-888-393-3693 or simply browse the Filling Machinery section of the LPS website.