Simplifying Changeover for Liquid Filling Machines
Filling machinery offers packagers efficiency in the filling process, allowing more bottles to be filled over time versus hand filling each container. However, very rarely will a packager use one bottle to package one product, with no variation in sizes, bottles or the liquids being filled. To maintain efficiency in the filling process with automated machinery, the changeover process from one bottle to another, or one product to another, must also remain efficient. To that end, Liquid Packaging Solutions manufactures filling equipment to make the changeover process as quick and easy as possible for each given project.
When it comes to different bottle shapes and sizes, the physical changes necessary are typically accomplished using simple hand knobs, cranks or power adjustments. For instance, adjusting railing on a liquid filler only requires and operator to loosen hand knobs, adjust the rails and tighten the knobs once again. Height adjustments on semi-automatic fillers may require the operator to use a hand crank to raise and lower the fill heads to the desired position, while automatic machines will use a simple switch to do the same. These and other physical adjustments will almost always be tool-free, quick adjustments that allow for an efficient change from one bottle to another.
Of course, different bottle sizes will usually require a different amount of product to be released into the bottle, or different fill times. In addition, different bottle sizes will require an adjustment to index times, or the amount of time bottles need to enter and exit the fill area. These and other delay and duration times make up the fill cycle. All necessary times for the fill cycle can be saved and recalled using a recipe screen found on the PLC for the filling machine.
The recipes for all of the bottles and products may be set prior to delivery to the packager or during installation and training. Meaning that changeover times and settings for the fill cycle will only require an operator to press a button and recall the necessary recipe before beginning production. Some semi-automatic machines may use PLC's as well, or will simply require a change to timers to modify the fill times.
Finally, product changeover will typically require the changing of the bulk source of product. Filling machinery from LPS can come equipped with a Clean-In-Place (CIP) system that allows for fast cleaning of residue from previous products. The PLC will once again be used to run water or cleaning product through the product pathway to remove the previous product and clean the pathway for the new product, allowing for minimal downtime between product changes.
Overall, the changeover from one product, bottle or other component to the next should reduce the downtime as much as possible to allow for maximum production. While every project differs, tool-free changeover, recipe screens and CIP systems allow for efficient changeover, which in turn contributes to a more efficient filling machine overall.
To learn more about filling machines and changeover processes, contact LPS to speak with a Filling Machine Specialist today.