Solutions for Filling Different Flavors
Many different liquid items, and especially beverages, are available in a variety of different flavors. Packaging a product that promotes different flavors brings up issues of cross-contamination and frequent cleaning. Extensive periods of time used toward changing out components and cleaning to avoid cross-contamination means there is also extensive downtime for the filling machine and inefficient production. However, solutions do exist to limit this downtime and boost efficiency.
First, certain tubing works better when working with flavors, or similarly tastes or fragrances. Some tube material will absorb or soak up the flavor of a liquid, leaving it to cause cross-contamination in the next product run even if some type of cleaning is done between the two runs, affecting the taste when dealing with edibles or beverages. Teflon and silicone tubing will not absorb the different flavors when chenged from one to another on a filling machine. This is a first step to avoiding cross-contamination when dealing with different flavors.
The type of filling machine used can also add efficiency to the process. Filling machines using peristaltic pumps help avoid cross contamination by ensuring product does not come in contact with pump components. Generally speaking, the pump uses rollers to squeeze product through tubing. For each flavor being run, the tubing can quickly and easily be changed out. With new tubing and no component contact parts, cross-contamination is avoided with little downtime for maintenance or changeover.
Finally, other automatic filling machines can be manufactured with a clean-in-place (CIP) system that allows for the product pathway to be flushed with a cleaning solution in between product runs. Tanks can be cleaned using a spray ball while cleaning solutions run through the tubing, manifold, nozzles and the rest of the pathway. This process is typically controlled through the touchscreen operator interface found on the control panel for automatic fillers.
One or some combination of these solutions will typically work to ensure cross-contamination of flavors does not occur while also not adding extensive time to the production schedule. Of course, custom projects may require custom solutions and other options exist or can be engineered to find the ideal filling process for any liquid packager.