Piston Filling Machines for Food Products
Packaging food products for the shelf can provide a number of challenges for a machinery manufacturer. In an industry with a vast number of different products, these challenges will change with each unique product and project. However, one recurring issue in the food industry involves the existence of particulates in the products being packaged. Jellies and jams may have chunks of fruit, cottage cheese can be chunky and even salsa, salad dressings and other liquids will contain spices, flavorings and food particles. The food industry also contains a number of products that are viscous in nature, making them more difficult to fill than free-flowing liquids found in the industry and other industries. The solution for these issues, many times, is the employment of a piston filling machine.
Not only can piston fillers handle thick food products and foods with particulates, they are also highly accurate filling machines. By using an all sanitary design and construction of the machine with tri-clamp fittings, the filling process of packaging foods also receives some protection against contamination when using a piston filler. While a check valve may be used as a component of the piston filling machine, with most of the food products mentioned above, the filling machine will use a three-way rotary valve. The rotary valve will contain a hollowed out portion to move product from the hopper of the machine to the cylinder. Once in the cylinder, the valve rotates and the piston forces the product out through the nozzles and into waiting bottles or containers. It is the hollowed out portion of the rotary valve, and the open space in the cylinder itself, that allows the particulates to pass through the product pathway and into the containers.
The accuracy of the piston fillers arises from the cylinder as well. Simply put, because the interior volume of the cylinder does not change from fill cycle to fill cycle, each stroke of the piston will transfer the same amount of product from the bulk source or the hopper to the containers. As the piston retracts, product is released into the cylinder until the piston reaches the end of its stroke, which will remain constant one set up for a production run. Once the cylinder is full of product, the piston pushes forward, again to the same point with each cycle, releasing all of the product. A simple, yet very effective way to achieve a volumetric fill.
Finally, the design of the piston filler can modified to handle a variety of products both thick and thin. For food companies that are dealing with more than one product or variations on the same product, the ability to handle products both thick and thin can be a huge benefit. Piston fillers can also handle production demands for food products from low to high, as they are manufactured as tabletop, semi-automatic and completely automatic machines.
Of course, piston fillers are not confined to only the food industry, as they can handle thicker liquids, creams, gels and pastes from any product line. But these machines are ideal for an industry that tends to have a number of products that are thicker in nature and that contain particulates as noted above. Visit the piston filler section of the LPS website for more info on these versatile packaging machines.