Liquid filling equipment covers a very broad area. The beginning decision is the operation required to meet the production needs. The operation can be “semi-automatic” in which the operator places the container in the fill position and activates, via foot switch or start button, the fill cycle. This works well when the requirements are 15 bottles per minute or less for most applications. The other operation is “automatic” where the empty bottles are presented to the filler either by hand or by other automated equipment such as a bottle unscrambler or depalletizer. The filling process starts and stops due to machine logic and controls rather than an operator beginning each filling cycle. This reduces direct labor on the line by eliminating one or more operators, and allows for speeds that would be otherwise unobtainable.
Rotary fillers are much more container specific and require change parts for each different bottle configuration. This type of filler can range from 4 filling valves up to 120 valves with maximum speed up to 1800 containers per minute. Control of the container is crucial and begins with a feed screw to introduce the container to a star wheel which aligns it with individual nozzles as they rotate around the filling platform. Upon exiting they are again fed into a star matching the container shape and led to the exit conveyor. These machines are used when higher speeds are required due to the continuous movement of the process.
Inside each filling method there are different filling techniques.
• Positive displacement filling using pistons, rotary lobe or gear pumps. Good for thicker more viscous products and products with large and small particulates.
• Fill to level using overflow nozzles. The product is fed to the nozzle via gravity, pressure gravity or strictly pressure. Over flow from a filled container recycles back the product flow. Fill accuracy ranges around +/- 1/16th” in height. This method works well for foamy products and is best suited for liquids with low to medium viscosity.
• Timed fill (inline only) which opens and closes product flow around a set time period. This incorporates valving or some sort in the product path or non contact pinch valves which start and stop product flow by clamping the product filled tube. Volumes are easily adjusted with this style filling, but are the least consistent.
• Net weight filling fills the container to preset weight and measures using load cells for each fill nozzle. This is commonly used for larger fill volumes, regulated liquids or very expensive product.
As with any project we undertake with any customer, there are many considerations we must take into account when specifying a piece of machinery for an application, used or new. In many cases certain original equipment manufacturers’ standard designs may be advantageous for certain types of applications.
In all cases the design standards of the equipment, material of construction, method, and capacity much match the application’s requirements. If you elect to contact us, we will be glad to assist you select a system that suits your particular application.
The basic preliminary information required to select a system lists as follows:
• Container Specifications – this includes material of construction, dimensional drawings, etc. Many times this is easiest accomplished if a customer elects to send a sample of each container in question to our attention.
• Speed Requirements – average and maximum desired rate at which bottles or containers must be filled. This will dictate the basic level of operation needed.
• Production Requirements – what is the product to be filled or packaged? What specifications must the equipment meet (ie GMP, FDA,) How the equipment relates to other equipment in the line.
• Space Requirements