Six Things to Check if Overflow Fills are Not Level
The overflow principle is a popular way to fill bottles in a number of different industries. These machines fill each and every bottle or container to the same level regardless of the interior level of those containers. Level fills create great shelf appeal and presence for products that are packaged in clear, or nearly clear containers. Therefore, when the levels are off, it can create havoc for the packager. Though not an exhaustive list, below are six common issues that may cause inconsistent levels on an overflow filling machine.
1. Leveling the Machine
For just about any piece of packaging equipment, the machine must be leveled to perform properly, and the overflow filler is no exception. Ensure that the machine is leveled on the production floor. If not, a simple adjustment to one or more of the leveling legs can correct this issue. On automatic machinery, packagers will also want to check the power conveyor system to ensure that the bottles are coming in level as well!
2. Fill Head Spacers
The spacers on the overflow nozzles are used to change the final level of the fill. For companies using a single bottle, it is unlikely that an issue will arise with the spacers. However, when packagers change spacers for different bottle sizes, a inconsistent fill may be the result of an error in spacer changeover, especially if the same nozzle is inconsistent. Simply ensure that each nozzle is using the same number and size spacers.
3. Seals and Springs
Overflow filling machines, like most packaging machinery, include some components that are referred to as wear parts. Over time, these components may need to be replaced to keep the machinery running efficiently and consistently. Overflow nozzles include a seal that covers the bottle opening, allowing excess product to return to the supply tank and creating the level fills. The nozzles also include a spring that helps create that seal. Over time, the seals may wear and the springs may lose tension. Replacing these simple components may be the necessary step to returning to level fills.
4. Pump Duration
The pump on an overflow filler not only fills the bottle, but also allows for the overflow of product. Ensure that the pump is running long enough to achieve a proper fill on each and every bottle, while also allowing enough time for the overflow to begin on each container. While a visual inspection should be enough to determine if the pump duration is the cause, by simply adding a little time to the pump duration, or fill time, a packager can run a test to ensure that the issue lies elsewhere.
5. Overflow Tubes
The packager should also check to ensure that the overflow tubes leading back to the holding tank are not submerged in liquid. If one or any of the tubes are submerged, this can create back pressure that will interfere with the overflow and thus create inconsistent levels on the fills. Simply remove any submerged tubes from the liquid and run the machine to see if the issue is resolved.
6. Product Connections
Finally, operators of an overflow filler should check all product connections to ensure that they are not loose. Loose connections will not necessarily result in leaking product. Air seeping into the product pathway can also interfere with level fills. In addition to checking for loose connections, the packager should also assess the machine to ensure everything is primed. Bubbles in airlines may be one indication that this is not the case. A quick solution may be to simply run the pump with no bottles under the nozzles until all fill tubes become primed.
Of course, the above are not an exhaustive list of possible causes for inconsistent fills, but they allow a packager to do a check of the machine that may lead to a quick resolution and less downtime. In the event that inconsistent fills simply cannot be corrected, the LPS Parts & Service team is always available to help analyze and resolve these issues at 1-888-393-3693 x 315.