Moving Containers Through a Filling System

Moving Containers Through A Filling System

Every filling system will have a method for moving bottles or other containers through the filling machine.  The movement will consist of bottles entering the filling equipment, stopping under the fill heads and then, after being filled, exiting the filling machine.  The term used in the packaging industry for this movement of bottles into and out of the filling area is "indexing".  The indexing system for each piece of filling equipment manufactured will depend on the product itself, the production rate desired and the bottle or container being filled.
Filling equipment indexing systems can range from completely manual to completely automatic.  The simplest form of indexing bottles on a filling system is the hand placement and manual removal of the bottles.  Operators of a manual, or in some cases semi-automatic, bottle filler in low production facilities will normally use manual indexing.  The lack of a need for speed allows the operators to place the empty bottles under the filling machine and manually remove them once the bottle are filled, while still meeting production demands.  Once you move away from low production facilities, automatic indexing systems usually become a necessity.
Higher production demands require an alternative to the time-consuming process of hand placement and removal of bottles on a filling machine.  The addition of a power conveyor to filling equipment also allows the addition of an automatic indexing system.  The most common indexing system is probably pin, or gate, indexing.  This system consists of an entry gate that will open to allow bottles to move under the fill heads and close once the proper number of containers have entered the filling area.  Containers are held in place under the fill heads by an exit gate, which will open to allow filled bottles to move down the packaging line.  This common indexing system will work will with a wide variety of containers and products, which makes it a popular choice.  
However, some projects - for example, top heavy or oddly shaped bottles - may require an alternative indexing system.  Other indexing options for filling systems may add speed or stability, save space or some combination of all of these to the filling process.  Starwheel indexing can be used on an inline filling system or a monobloc filling and capping machine.  Starwheel indexing may add speed to the packaging line or may be a solution for oddly shaped containers.  Timing screws can also be used to index containers through a bottle filling machine.  These helical screws can start and stop the flow of bottles into and out of the filling equipment and can also be used to divide and separate bottles if necessary.  Both starwheels and timing screws may require multiple pieces to handle different sized containers being run on the filling equipment.  
On rare occasions, a unique indexing system may be used for a filling or packaging system, such as where containers will be moved to multiple locations after being filled.  If you have questions regarding bottle indexing systems, or would simply like to know which indexing system would work best for your product, container and production demands, contact a Packaging Specialist at Liquid Packaging Solutions toll free today at 1-888-393-3693.