Piston Fillers Add Versatility to a Packaging Line

Piston Fillers Add Versatility to a Packaging Line

There is often discussion about which liquid filler is ideal for any given product.  Generally, overflow and gravity fillers are ideal for thin products, piston fillers and pump filling machines for thicker products.  But what about facilities that package a wide range of product types?  Or a contract packager that has jobs ranging from thin, free flowing product to thick, viscous products?

The truth is, that while we tout the piston filler as an ideal filling machine for thick, viscous products, it is actually versatile enough to handle products both thick and thin.  So why not use a piston filler for any and all filling projects?  The piston filler can be a very accurate volumetric filling machine, but other filling principles, such as the overflow filler, are accurate in other ways.  The overflow filler fills to a specific level in a bottle, consistently and reliably, regardless of the volume of the bottle.  In addition, other filling machines, such as the gravity filler, are simply a better solution from an economical standpoint.  So while a piston filler can be used for thin to thick products, it is not always the ideal choice.

The piston filler will likely become the ideal choice, however, when dealing with a large number of products that vary in their characteristics.  This type of situation is most typically seen at larger corporations as well as contract packagers.  These packagers can benefit greatly from the use of a piston filler for a number of different reasons.  First, the piston filler can handle all of the products, as noted above, whether they are a thin product or a highly viscous product.  

In addition to being able to handle different product types, the piston filler can also handle different bottle shapes and sizes.  A single piston can be used to fill a range of bottle shapes and sizes small to large.  When that range of volumes becomes extreme, however, more than one piston size may be necessary to complete all of the fills, and changeover may take some time. 

Piston fillers can be manufactured as automatic filling machines, which can roll right up to an existing packaging line, or they may be built as tabletop or portable semi-automatic machines.  Automatic piston fillers will normally come equipped with a PLC controlled by an easy to use operator interface that uses a touch screen to control duration and delay times for indexing and filling.  The interface on a piston filler may also include simple touch screen on/off buttons for the fill cycle, conveyors, turntables or other components of the filling machine or packaging line.  Semi-automatic and tabletop piston fillers may use simple foot or hand switch activation for the fill cycle or may include a very simple PLC as well.

While the piston filler may not be the ideal choice for all filling applications, it is an option that can be used to solve specific packaging project issues.  If you have thick products or multiple products of varying viscosity, the piston filling machine is an option that should not be overlooked.