Filling Machine Spring Cleaning

Filling Machine Spring Cleaning

Springtime, when a packager's fancy turns to thoughts of...maintenance?  Spring cleaning, unfortunately, need not be relegated just to the house and yard.  As the cold months end and managers and workers alike begin to crave the sunshine, now is a good time to thoroughly check your liquid filler to ensure smooth production runs throughout the summer months.
Unfortunately, once a packaging line is up and running, routine cleaning and maintenance sometimes take a back seat to getting the product bottled and out to the customer.  While important to service the entire packaging line, a filling machine can lead to specific problems if not maintained.  Fillers are the one piece of packaging equipment that extensively handle the product being packaged.  Whether water, household goods, foods and beverages or chemicals, the product must travel from the bulk source and through the product pathway of the liquid filler to reach the bottles or other containers.  In the worst case scenario, failing to maintain the filling machine can lead to product contamination.  But even if contamination is not an issue, buildup can lead to excessive wear and tear, inconsistent fills and a host of other bothersome issues.  Taking the time to do a little "spring cleaning" on these machines can lead to less downtime and better performance in the future.  


Start by paying attention to the filling machine itself.  Inspect the equipment to identify problem, or possible problem, areas.  Has the tubing ever been replaced on the filler?  Maybe the lines need to be replaced, or removed and cleaned.  Is the air filter working correctly?  Is there any build up of debris that may hinder the nozzles diving up and down?  Are seals eroding or wearing down?  Closely inspect contact parts, pumps, filters, ball valves and all other components of the filling machine to ensure everything is clean and working correctly.


Once the inspection is complete and concerns, if any, have been identified, spend the time necessary to clean the components or areas of the liquid filler that caused concern.  Flush out the tank and wipe it down to avoid product contamination.  Wipe down the entire machine to avoid dust and debris buildup.  Again, while wiping down the filler seems like a seemingly simple task, it is a task that is often left for another day when production demands become high.


During the inspection and cleaning stages, ask yourself if there are areas where the filling machine could perform more efficiently.  In other words, identify and assess possible upgrades to the filling machine.  Perhaps cleaning drips from the filling machine was once a small task, but production has increased since the beginning of the business.  Though the filler was not initially equipped with a drip tray, now might be a good time to add this component.  If production demands were met in a single eight hour day when the filling machine was purchased, but hours in service are increasing rapidly, it might be time to place additional fill heads on the machine.  In addition to inspecting and cleaning, it is always advantageous to look for possible improvements to the equipment.


Once everything is in working order, take a look to ensure that crucial spare parts are available on the shelf in the facility.  There is no reason to lose precious production time waiting for a simple nozzle seal, a length of tubing or an O-ring.  Re-stock those inexpensive items that, nevertheless, could cause delays and downtime on the packaging line.  
Put your feet up, admire the fluid performance of the filler, smile at the spare parts that will keep you running throughout the summer, or...schedule that early tee time to enjoy the long overdue warm weather and sneak out the back door!  We won't tell...