Filling Machines and Equipment for Products with Particulates

Filling Machines and Equipment for Products with Particulates

Salad dressings, hand soaps, spaghetti sauces and fruits and jams have at least one thing in common when it comes to packaging.  Each of these items may contain particulates such as herbs and spices, grit, chunks of meat or pieces of fruit, respectively.  Particulates create a unique packaging challenge, especially when for the manufacturer of the filling machine.

There does not exist a single filling machine that will be ideal for all packaging projects that include products with particulates.  Instead, the product itself will need to analyzed, along with the unique needs of the packager, to identify the best machine for the project.  Salad dressings, for example, may be fairly free flowing liquids with very small particulates, such as flakes or small seeds.  Many times, an overflow filler can handle these types of dressings, allowing each bottle to be filled to a level.  The level fill is also important for dressings that are packaged in clear glass or plastic bottles, allowing for a clean, consistent shelf presence.  Of course, not all salad dressings are thin, free-flowing liquids. 

Some salad dressings are closer in viscosity to a heavier, thicker spaghetti sauce.  Once the product gets thicker and the particulates become larger, the overflow filler is removed from the equation.  Fortunately, other filling principles can be used to complete fills on medium viscosity products.  Many times, a pump filling machine can be used to fill higher viscosity products, with the pump being matched to the product being run on the packaging line.  Though the pump filler allows thicker products with larger particulates to be run, it also requires one pump for each fill head on the machine, which can, in certain circumstances, cause limitations to line productivity.  A second solution to thicker products and larger particulates can be found in a piston filling machine. 

The piston filler, while being an alternative to the pump filling machine, may also be the lone choice for some products like extremely thick jellies and jams with large pieces of fruit.  The piston filler uses a cylinder from which the piston retracts, pulling in the product and the particulates as it does so.  Once fully retracted, the piston pushes the product and particulates into the waiting containers.  Given that the piston retracts to the same point each cycle, it not only handles thick products better than other filler types, but it also provides a consistent and accurate, volumetric fill.

In addition to the filling machine, sometimes alternate materials will be used for other equipment, such as power conveyors.  Where a particulate or product can be abrasive, corrosive or otherwise cause damage to the standard stainless steel construction material, packaging machinery may be built using HDPE or other materials simply to prolong the life of the equipment.  Though other considerations will be sometimes be taken into account, generally the product viscosity and the size and amount of the particulates will be enough to identify the ideal solution for any given packaging project.