Liquid Filling Machines Operator Interface Screens - Adjust Fill Times

Liquid Filling Machines Operator Interface Screens - Adjust Fill Times

Now that all of the components of the filling machine have been turned on or off and specific delay and duration times have been set, the operator of the liquid filler must ensure that the actual fill itself is performed properly.  The Adjust Fill Times Screens may vary depending on the filling principle being used on each individual packaging machine.  Rather than go over the most common individual controls, we will discuss the fill principles for different filling machines and the method behind the Adjust Fill Times screens for those machines.

Overflow Filling Machine

The overflow filler will use a single pump to push product to a manifold, which in turn moves the product through the fill heads and into the waiting bottles.  The overflow filler is unique in that the fill nozzles not only release product into the bottles, but once the product reaches a specific level, the nozzles then return the product to the supply tank.  The Adjust Fill Times screen for an overflow filler will usually consist of a fill pump speed and a fill pump duration that will be set by the operator.  In addition, the screens may include a couple of additional delay timers, one that will delay the start of the pumps (or the fill) once nozzles are in place and one that will delay the retraction of the nozzles once the fill is completed.  In the case of an overflow filler, the fill pump duration is, more or less, the actual fill time, but because product overflows back to the supply tank once it reaches a certain level, the fill time on the overflow filler leaves some room for error that will not be found on other filling machines.  Keep in mind though, fill times should be as accurate as possible to keep the fillng machine efficient!

Pump Filling Machine

The Adjust Fill Times screens on a pump filler will be very similar to an overflow filler.  However, instead of a single pump pushing product to a manifold, the pump filler will have one pump for each fill head found on the packaging machine.  In other words, a six head automatic pump filler will also include six pumps.  The duration of the fill will be set for each individual pump and must be set precisely to reach the ideal fill level.  The pump filling machine, unlike the overflow filler, will not return excess product to a supply tank, leaving the operator with a mess if the fill times are not properly configured.  However, these times are often factory pre-set and it is a fairly simple process to find the correct times if new bottles are added in the future. Also, once the times are configured for a specific bottle, they can be saved and recalled at any time.

Gravity Filling Machine

If the operator of a packaging system is using a gravity filling machine, the Adjust Fill Times screens will be used to open and close fill nozzles on the machine.  In general, gravity fillers use a time-based filling system which allows product to flow down from a tank, through the fill heads and into the waiting bottles.  Each fill head will have valve that will open to allow product to flow and close to cut off that flow.  The Adjust Fill Times screens will allow the operator to set the amount of time that the valve remains open for each fill head.  Again, there is no return of product to a supply tank as is found on an overflow filler, so the times must be adjusted precisely to avoid overfilling or underfilling.

Piston Filling Machine

A piston filling machine is unique in that the Adjust Fill Times screens may consist of nothing more than a setting for how many piston strokes will be required to fill a container.  The piston pulls back to allow product into the cylinder.  Once the cylinder is full of product, the piston pushes forward to release product into the container.  In most cases, each piston stroke will fill a single container.  However, piston fillers can be manufactured in several different manners, and some piston fillers may use a manifold to deliver product to more than one fill head.  The Adjust Fill Times screens may vary from piston filler to piston filler.

For all of the machines, the operator can perform manual fills of containers to assist in finding the correct fill times.  Simple touchscreen controls allow for minute adjustments to fill times in order to fine tune each fill head or all fill heads at once.  Again, once the ideal fill times are found for a specific container, the operator can use the Recipe Screen (which will be discussed in a later article) to save those settings and recall the fill times at a later date, removing the need to once again go through the fine tuning process.