Overflow Filling Machine Control Panel Screens

Overflow Filling Machine Control Panel Screens

Automatic filling machinery is most often controlled using a Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) accessed through a simple to use touchscreen operator interface.  The screens of the operator interface, as well as the settings found on those screens, will vary depending on the features of the machine as well as the filling principle (that is, overflow filler versus gravity filler versus piston filler, etc.).  What follows is a description of the screens and controls found on a typical overflow filling machine.  Though the settings may seem overwhelming to a new user, keep in mind that the fill times, delay times and duration times will all be factory set in almost every case.  In addition, installation and training are always available to ensure that the customer staff is comfortable operating the machinery.  With the combination of factory settings and customer training, the operation of automatic filling machinery is actually quite simple.


The main screen of the operator interface on an overflow filling machine allows access to all other menus and screens.  In addition, the main screen will normally include the total production run by the filling equipment, indexing counts and main controls for pumps, conveyors and other auxillary equipment.  These on/off controls for the major components of the filler will remain on the bottom of each screen on the operator interface.


The manual toggle screen allows the operator of a machine to manual control certain functions of the overflow filler.  For example, by pressing the entry or exit gate buttons, the operator can open and close the indexing gates manually.  These controls will become useful for maintenance, repairs and general cleaning, as well as set up if a new bottle or container is introduced at a future date.  Each of the functions found under the manual toggle screen will revert to the auto setting when the screen is exited, ensuring that automatic production runs consistently and smoothly.


The filler set-up screen, or screens, allow certain functions of the filling machine to be turned on or off during automatic production.  For example, the product drip tray can be turned off in the filler set-up screens.  Some functions in these screens require a selection versus a simple on/off choice.  The filler set-up screen allows the operator to choose the indexing type for the machine, from pin to starwheel to no indexing (or manual indexing).  These settings will be factory set and under optimal conditions should probably remain as they were set in the factory.  However, at times this screen will allow for automatic production even if all components of the filler are not functional.  If a back-up sensor were to malfunction, it could be turned off and the filling machine could continue production with the operator keeping an eye on down-stream bottles.


The adjust pre-sets screens will contain all of the delay and duration times necessary to efficiently fill containers automatically.  At first glance, these screens can seem intimidating, but keep in mind that all delay and duration times, as well as pump speeds, will almost always be factory set prior to delivery of the filling machine.  Once you understand what this screen represents, the times shown begin to make more sense.  In general, these screens represents the times for a single fill cycle, which will be repeated for each set of bottles entering the filling machine.  Delay times allow certain actions to happen without interference from moving bottles or filler actions.  For example, if the delay head dive is one second, the heads will not dive until the sensor sees bottles in place for a full second.  Duration times represent the time necessary for an action to occur.  The exit gate duration timer shows the amount of time it will take bottles to leave the fill area after the fill is complete, at which time the exit gate closes to hold the next cycle of containers in the fill area.  

Other controls on the pre-set screen are used to set pump speed, supply product and control vision systems.  These controls may not be utilized with each fill cycle, but on an as needed basis.  Product will be supplied when low.  Vision systems will pause or stop production if containers are missing or jammed at a downstream point.  


The adjust fill times screen for an overflow filling machine will consist of a pump delay timer and a pump duration and a pump speed setting.  The pump will delay turning on to allow the heads to dive and create a seal on the bottles.  Once the pump on an overflow filler does turn on, it will continue to supply product to the manifold (which in turn supplies product to each fill head) for the set amount of time.  Pump speed can be adjusted and may be at less than 100% depending on the bottle and specific product being filled.


The auto index set up screen allows operators a simple way to set the indexing times found in the adjust pre-sets screens.  Rather than guess, adjust, run, adjust and slowly zeroing in on the correct filling machine indexing times, this screen simply allows a set of bottles to be run through the filler to find the correct times.  Pressing save automatically incorporates the times into the filler settings.


Once production has been run on a bottle, all of the settings for that bottle can be saved in a "recipe".  The next time the bottle is produced, the operator need simply recall the recipe and begin production.  Normally, up to fifty recipes can be saved in the PLC.


The alarm screen simply offers assistance for troubleshooting purposes.  The operator can refer to this screen if the machine is shut down or experiences trouble running production.  The alarm screen will attempt to identify the issue until the same is cleared and production resumes.  

Again, other screens may exist based on the features of the filling machine and the application being performed.  For example, a filling machine may be manufactured with a clean-in-place feature, the settings and controls for the clean-in-place system would be found on an additional screen on the filling machine operator interface.  

For more information on any of the controls of the overflow filler, or any other filling machine manufactured by Liquid Packaging Solutions, Inc., give us a call toll-free at: