Liquid Filling Machines Operator Interface Screens - the Main Menu

Liquid Filling Machines Operator Interface Screens - The Main Menu

In the next few weeks we will look at the operator interface for automatic liquid packaging machinery.  While the operator interface for different filling equipment may include variations on screens and controls, we will look at a typical screen and the most common controls and features of each screen.  The first screen encountered by an operator of an automated liquid filler will almost always be the Main Menu.  
The Main Menu screen will include informational data, navigational controls and controls for certain functions.  This screen can be thought of as the Home Screen and will allow the operator to reach whatever controls are necessary to allow the filling machine to perform with maximum efficiency.
The Main Menu displays a number of different statistics for operator of the machine.  This data is displayed at the top of the oeprator interface screen and includes the following:
  • Total Production:  This is the total number of bottles filled by the packaging machine.  The Main Menu will allow an operator to obtain a hourly, daily, weekly or other incremental count of containers running through the machine.  On most machines, the total production count for the liquid filler can be reset to zero by simply pressing and holding the current number next to Total Production on the screen for a pre-set amount of time.  
  • Infeed Container Count:  This readout simply shows the number of bottles or containers filled by the packaging machine during each cycle.  The number will usually be equal to the number of fill heads on the machine in use during each cycle, though this can vary based on the indexing type used by the filling machine.  This number will be changed by either pressing the numeral on the Main Menu or by entering an internal set up menu and changing the setting in the same manner.
  • Discharge Star Count:  When a filling machine uses starwheel indexing to release bottles once full, the starwheel discharge count will be set to ensure that the machine releases the correct number of bottles after each fill cycle.  Like the Infeed Container Count, this number may be changed on the Main Menu or on an internal set up menu.  
Navigational controls are used to reach internal menus that assist the operator in the set up of the filling machine.  Each screen will contain additional options or controls to fine tune the performance of the filler or assist in set up or maintenance.  The navigational controls typically include:
  • Manual Toggle - These screens allow the operator to take manual control of certain features of the filling machines, such as indexing gates, diving heads and other functions.  The manual toggle screen is useful for troubleshooting and initial set up of the liquid filler.
  • Filler Set Up - The filler set up screens generally allow the operator of the filling machine the ability to turn certain features of the filler on and off.  When the functions are set to On or Auto, they will work automatically when the filler is running.  The screens may also allow certain selections such as index type and sensor type.
  • Adjust Pre-Sets - The adjust pre-sets menus allow a number of different duration and delay times to be set for each bottle to be run.  These times will combine to make up the fill cycle and allow for added efficiency when properly configured.  The pre-set times can be saved under the Recipe Screen.
  • Adjust Fill Times - The Adjust Fill Times screens allow the opertor to set the fill time for all fill heads at once or for individual fill times.  These will need to be adjusted for different product types and bottle sizes.  Again, they can be saved under the Recipe Screen.
  • Auto Index Set-Up - This screen allows the opertor to quickly and easily set indexing times for a given bottle.  The operator simply lines bottles up as directed on the power conveyor, then presses the auto index button to obtain the necessary times.
  • Recipe - The recipe screen allows the settings to be saved and recalled for a specific bottle.  Once the settings are input into the machine, the operator can visit this screen to save them for later runs of the same bottle and product.  
  • Alarm - The alarm screen will alert the operator of the filling machine when there is an issue that needs to be resolved.  It works as an aid in troubleshooting and ensures that all issues are cleared before the machine once again starts automatic production.
Each of these menus will be discussed in greater detail in the weeks to come.  But the Main Menu serves as the starting point of filling machine operation and allows the operator to reach any of the above screen to make necessary adjustments to the machine. 
Function controls allow the operator to control power to certain features of the filling machine from the Main Menu.  Typically, the operator will be able to turn on such features as the conveyor, supply pumps, auxillary controls such as downline sensors and the fill cycle itself.  These main controls make start up of the filling machine quick and easy.  The operator simply presses the corresponding button to toggle between on and off.
Once the settings for a specific bottle and product have been entered, the operator of the machine may need only visit the Recipe Screen and the Main Menu to operate the liquid filler.  For those filling machines that are pre-set at the factory, the Main Menu function controls will be the most used controls on the panel.  However, being familiar with all of the controls and menus available on the filling machine will ensure that production stays up and running, so stay tuned for additional information on filling machine controls!