Step by Step To The Best Filling Machine Solution
Each packaging project is unique, and no single, standard filling machine will work for every project out there. Choosing the best machine for your filling project will ensure not only consistent fills but also a reliable and efficient process that saves time, money and energy.
Step 1 - Analyze Your Products
Different types of filling machines use different fill principles. Some will fill to a certain level, while others will fill based on weight or volume. Viscosity will play a role in selecting the best filling machine as well. Certain fillers, such as gravity or overflow machines, work well with low viscosity products. Other machine may be necessary, such as piston or pump fillers, when viscosity is high. Do products require the filling process be sanitary? Is a mixer or agitator required to keep particulates from settling? Analyzing the products will help to determine the best fill type as well as the necessary features that may be required for the best performance of the machine.
Step 2 - Determine How Many Bottles Per Minute Are Necessary
In other words, what speeds must be achieved by the liquid filler. Looking at orders, as well as how much production time is allotted, many in the industry will use an equation to determine the number of bottles per minute needed to achieve production goals. If a company needs to fill 10,000 bottles per day over an 8 hour period, they will need to reach speeds of right around 20 bottles per minute (10000 bottles divided by 8 hours = 1250 bottles per hour, divided by 60 minutes = 20.8 bottles per minute). Filling machines can be designed as simple, operator assisted tabletop equipment, continuously filling fully automatic machinery or anything in between. Figuring out the bottles per minute for any project, based on production time, will help to determine the level of automation necessary to achieve the desired goals.
Step 3 - Analyze Expected Future Growth
Similar to the second step above, future growth should be analyzed to ensure that the equipment will not quickly be outgrown by production demand. If a company begins bottling at 20 bottles per minute, but knows that they have contracts coming down the line that will require them to triple production, a filling machine that tops out at 20 bottles per minute simply does not make economical sense, as it will quickly be outgrown. In addition, many liquid fillers can be designed and built to allow for upgrades in the future, which is especially useful when growth is expected or desired but contracts may not currently be in place. For example, a four head filler may be upgradeable to sixteen heads in the future, meaning that instead of buying new equipment when product demand increases, a packager can simply add more heads to the existing filler! Planning for growth can actually save money on packaging machinery down the line.
Step 4 - Choose Your Containers
Container shapes and sizes will not typically affect the fill principle or type of machine to be used for a project. However, knowing all of the containers - from small to large and narrow to wide - can definitely help with the design. If heads dive, the dive will have to accommodate different heights. Tall bottles may require stabilizing components such as neck grabbers. Wide bottles could lead to modification of the fill bar to ensure the proper number of containers can fit in to the fill area. Choosing the containers allows the bottle filler to be hand tailored to the project and custom designed to the packagers needs.
Step 5 - Analyze Your Space Before Purchasing
Line layouts can show a packager exactly where the machinery will be placed and the space that it will require. An automatic filling machine with a 12 foot conveyor simply is not a good choice to place in a 10 x 10 room that must also include space for capping, labeling and packing product. Though a lack of space can be a limitation, tabletop, semi-automatic or custom machinery can always be designed to reach intended goals. Analyzing space and preparing a line layout will ensure that the project remains as efficient as possible in the space available.
Again, each packaging project is unique, and other factors may exist that will assist in the choosing of the best filling solution. However, the analysis of the factors above will almost always help to identify the best fill principle, level of automation and necessary components to be used for any given project and Liquid Packaging Solutions Representatives are always willing and able to help with such an analysis.