The Search for the Perfect Filling Machine

The Search for the Perfect Filling Machine

As packaging machine manufacturers, our search for the perfect filler, or the perfect piece of any other packaging equipment.  Truly, one of the questions encountered over and over by our employees is:  "Which type of filling machine works the best?"  This is a question heard in trade show booths, on phone calls with potential users of packaging equipment and various other locations where LPS Packaging Specialists share information and otherwise consult with would-be packagers.  The truth is there is no easy answer to that question until and unless more data about a specific project is gathered.  The overflow filler may be the best filling machine for one project, while the gravity, pump or piston filler may be the perfect solution for the very next project.  This statement stands true for a variety of reasons.


The search for the perfect filling machine begins with an analysis of the project at hand.  Different liquid fillers are manufactured to handle different products.  Thinner liquids that flow freely, such as water, will be more apt to work well with an overflow or gravity filling machine.  Thick products that may ooze rather than flow work better with piston or pump filling machines as a general rule.  In addition to the type of bottle filler to be used, both the desired speed and production demands of a given project will help to identify the needed level of automation.  Many other factors will be considered as well, including the type of pump needed if a product contains particulates, the fittings used if a sanitary filling solution is needed, types of sensors panels if the environment is hazardous and any other special or unique characteristics of the packaging project.  Anaylsis of all of the factors of a given project will help the packager and the packaging machine manufacturer identify the ideal filling machine.  However, just because the bottle filler is ideal at that time does not mean it will always be the perfect solution.


Technology changes today at a faster pace than it probably ever has in the past.  Just look at computers, electronics and phones and the running joke that two days after purchasing the newest model of a phone, the next generation of equipment is introduced.  The changes may not be quite as drastic in the packaging industry, but new technology is constantly being researched and developed.  New technology also will not make current packaging machinery - filling machines, capping machines, conveyors or otherwise - obsolete.  In fact, many times the newer technology can be integrated into the existing equipment.  For example, older nozzles can be replaced on liquid fillers with a newer model.  PLC programs can be updated or changed completely if necessary.  As technology progresses, many times the filling equipment will progress right along with it, without the need to purchase brand new equipment.


Along the same lines, customer needs may change over time, in turn changing what is needed from the bottle filler.  As a company grows, more finished product may be demanded from the packaging equipment.  Again, this issue can be solved many times without the need for purchasing all new equipment.  Many fillers are manufactured with company growth in mind, as almost all companies desire growth.  A facility with moderate production may one day find they have outgrown the filling machine as it now stands on their production floor.  The solution is not to scrap the machine, but rather add more filling heads to increase production.  Or perhaps a PLC and an indexing system can be tacked on to a semi-automatic filling machine to speed up the filling process.  Again, the project needs must be analyzed to reach the ideal solution.

Much analysis and attention to detail is required on the quest for the perfect filling machine.  As noted, however, identifying the ideal machine for a specific project is not the end of the task.  Though technology and customer needs will continuously change, through modifications and upgrades, the liquid filler can continue to be the perfect solution for years to come.