Filling Machine Tank Options


Different automatic filling machines, from overflow fillers to piston fillers, are used to run different types of products.  The product that is run through the various filling machines will typically be pulled from a bulk product supply into a supply tank found on the packaging machine.  In addition to changes in the volume and shape of the tank due to product and production demands, these supply tanks will serve various functions based on the attributes of the product being run.  Some of the more common tank options, described below, include product agitation, controlled heat, automatic product re-supply and a clean-in-place system.
Some products may be made up of more than one element or ingredient.  One or more ingredient may have a tendency to settle when the product becomes stable.  Salad dressings, for example, may include herbs or seeds for seasoning purposes.  Allowing these products to simply remain in the tank without agitation will cause the herbs or seeds to settle to the bottom of the supply tank, leading to fills absent the added particulates.  Product agitation can be accomplished in several different ways, including the use of a paddle or wheel to ensure constant product movement.  The agitator is added to the supply tank to ensure that the filling machine consistently combines the different elements of a given product.
Heated tanks may be used with a filling machine for a variety of products, but the main reason that a heated tank is used with any given product is to achieve a consistent viscosity that will allow the liquid filler to accomplish its task.  Some jams and jellies will need to be heated to achieve the ability to run them through a filling machine.  Glues and pastes may also need to remain heated throughout the filling process to avoid clogging not just the tank supply system but the entire product pathway.  There are several different ways to heat a tank depending on the product and process being used.
High speed automatic filling machines may run through the product kept in the supply tank of the filling equipment in a relatively short period of time.  If it were necessary for the operator of the packaging line to pause the line every few minutes to replenish the filling machine tank, the efficiency of the entire packaging system would suffer.  Instead, most tanks will use a float system to pull product from a bulk supply whenever the product gets below a certain level.  When the float senses that product is low, it will send a signal to the supply pump to kick on and add more product to the tank, meaning that only the bulk supply of product need be replaced from time to time.  
Many filling machines will come equipped with a clean-in-place (CIP) system.  Such a system is used to clean the tank and the entire product pathway while minimizing or eliminating the need for disassembly of the packaging line or components.  A CIP system for a filling machine tank will often consist of a simple spray ball.  During the cleaning process, the spray ball will wash down the inside of the tank, allowing excess product to wash away with the water or other cleaning solution once the CIP cycle is complete.  Like the automatic re-supply system, the CIP system and spray ball allow the tank to be cleaned quickly and without an excess amount of downtime.
Any given filling machine may come equipped with all, or none, of the tank options referred to above.  Unique or custom filling projects may also require unique or custom tanks and tank options not mentioned above.  In the end, however, even the type of tank chosen for your packaging line and the options included with it, can have an effect on the efficiency and productivity of your packaging system as a whole.