Upgrading Your Liquid Filling Machine
Upgrading Your Liquid Filling Machine
Anyone browsing through the Liquid Packaging Solutions website will likely notice that a standard feature on many of the products manufactured by LPS is the ability of the equipment to be upgraded. Upgrades can be accomplished in a number of different ways on different packaging machines. As is explained below, filling machine upgrades can take on several different forms, depending on the end goal of the upgrade.
From time to time, new containers or products may be introduced that can be more easily packaged using a component that was not necessary with the original containers or products. For example, a new bottle with a long, narrow neck, may require bottle grabbers, or neck grabbers, to stabilize the containers and keep them in place under the nozzles during the fill process. Even without new products or containers, a company may decide that a component is worth the cost after a machine has been put in use. For example, a company may find that too much time is taken for disassembling and cleaning a filling machine and may later opt for a clean in place system. Component upgrades, then, may be necessary given changes to the packaging process, or they may simply be desired by the packager to make life a little easier on the production floor.
While nozzles are definitely a component of a filling machine, we give the addition of nozzles their own special category when talking about filler upgrades. More than any other upgrade, the addition of fill heads is a simple and easy way to allow the filling machine to grow with the production demands of the company. On many filling machines, a manifold will be used to deliver product to multiple fill heads. The manifold will include enough ports for the fill heads to be used on the machine. However, additional ports can be added at the time of manufacture and simply plugged unless and until they are needed. So a four head filling machine may become an eight head filling machine by simply unplugging four additional ports and adding the necessary tubing and nozzles. To make the upgrade simple, such growth must be anticipated at the time the machine is manufactured, and of course there will be a maximum number of fill heads on each machine. But a company starting with a two head filling machine may be able to increase production up to a point where sixteen fill heads are used on the same machine, extending the life of the packaging equipment and saving the packager from needing to spend for all new filling equipment.
Finally, a company with low to medium production demands may start with a semi-automatic filling machine, requiring an operator to place bottles and activate the fill cycle. As demand for the product increases, the company can still add additional nozzles to the machine. But at some point, the semi-automatic filling machine simply may not be able to keep up with demand. Semi-automatic fillers can be upgraded to run automatic production, though such changes require a little more work than the upgrades described above. Moving from a semi-automatic machine to automatic production will normally require the addition of, or at least an upgrade to, the PLC and the program, which allows communication between the different components of the filler. An indexing system, such as pin gates or a star wheel, will also be added to the machine to automatically move the correct number of bottles in and out of the fill area. While such an upgrade is more in-depth than adding components, it will still be a more economical solution than the purchase of completely new packaging equipment.
Whether a simple component upgrade or an automatic production upgrade, the process for these improvements can be made much easier by planning for the future at the initial manufacturing of the machines. LPS understands that the goal of almost any packager is growth and an expanding market. Our Packaging Specialists, from project managers to engineers to technicians, design and build machinery with growth in mind, allowing your filling machine, and all of your other packaging equipment, to grow with your company wherever possible.