7 questions before buying a filling machine

AND filling machine It has a very important role in the food industry. They offer reliability, consistency and efficiency, factors that must be considered when purchasing them. Due to the large number of options available in the market, it is a very difficult job to buy filling machine appropriate. Here we mention the variables that should be considered when making a decision.

1.- What type of product do you want to pack?

  • First of all, define the viscosity of your product. Is it liquid and water-like or is it semi-viscous? Or is it too thick and sticky? This will help you decide which type of filling is suitable. A piston filler works well for thick viscous products, while a gravity filler works best for thin, liquid products.
  • Does your product contain particles such as salad dressing or pasta sauce, which contain pieces of vegetables? They could block the gravity feed nozzle.
  • The matching of the filling machine with the packaged product is necessary and this does not mean only that the construction material matches the product being processed. Generally speaking, stainless steel will be used to make the filling machine, but some products just don’t work well with stainless steel.
  • Be careful that the pump does not agitate the product and cause viscosity changes that could cause inconsistencies.
  • Be careful not to heat the components and do the same with the product. Inform the filler manufacturer of your product’s features and inquire about any potential machine performance issues.

2.- What types of filling machines can you choose?

There are some aspects in which all liquid packaging machines match, such as the formation of an accumulator system from a tank or a circulation system through which different bottles or containers pass. What mainly changes between the different types are the nozzles used for filling. There are mainly two large groups:

  • Volumetric fillers
  • Constant level fillers

Volumetrically, they are the simplest and most direct, they work on filling bottles with a specific volume of liquid. They are divided into three groups:

  • Cup fillers
  • Fixed piston fillers
  • Piston fillers ordered.

Each of the types uses a special filling form derived from its name, which is recommended depending on the process being carried out. However, there is a problem that although the filling process is precise, the difference between the bottles causes the filling level to differ from each other.

In case of fillers with a constant level, the leveling of liquids is more precise and the problem that volumetric ones have is avoided. There are also three types: siphon, isobarometric and differential pressure. The filling system varies depending on the type, but in all three cases the precision that represents this type of liquid packaging machine is guaranteed.

3.- What is the production (bottles per minute) of the machine?

Most of the time, liquid filler performance is discussed in terms of bottles per minute. This number is determined by factors such as the size of the container, the product being filled, and the level of automation, among others. For example, if a machine can fill 50 bottles per minute, a bottling plant can plan its production day, week or month around that number.

One thing is certain: the chosen machine must have the ability to grow with growing operations. Liquid fillers must be upgradeable and the machine must accommodate multiple filling heads when needed.

The number of bottles per minute required to meet production requirements will help you decide whether a manual, semi-automatic or fully automatic packaging system is suitable. Some experts believe that semi-automatic or even manual liquid filling machines make sense for small production runs. When production starts or new products are introduced, it can be upgraded to a fully automated one that requires less operator interaction and dramatically increases fill rates.

4.- How to operate the machine?

Many packers invest in filling machines to reduce labor costs and increase the efficiency of the production process. However, it must be taken into account that different levels of machine operation require manpower.

For example, benchtop and semi-automatic filling machines require at least one operator to fill, activate and unload bottles from the equipment. The use of labor also creates uncertainty in the production of the machine, since it can work as fast as the operator. The best way to resolve this issue is to discuss the level of machine automation with the manufacturer.

5.- What type of tank do you intend to fill?

Will you be filling flexible bags, tetrapacks or bottles? If they are bottles, what is the size, shape and material? Glass or plastic? What type of cover is required? Twist cap, filler cap, cap, screw or spray? There are countless possible options.

Also, do you need a labeling solution? Defining all these needs in advance will make it easier to discuss your plans with your packaging and supply system suppliers.

Ideally, a liquid filling line should offer flexibility. It must handle different bottle sizes and shapes with minimal changeover time.

6.- What is the precision of filling?

Filling accuracy is a key advantage of automated packaging systems. Or should be. Underfilled containers can lead to customer complaints, while overfilling is a waste you can’t afford.

Automation can ensure accurate filling. Automated filling machines are equipped with a PLC that controls filling parameters, ensuring product flow and consistent and accurate filling. Product overflow is eliminated, which not only saves money on product storage, but also reduces the time and cost of cleaning the machine and surrounding areas.

7.- Can the machine be updated?

One point to consider is whether the new liquid filling machine you are proposing to purchase can be integrated with your existing equipment or even with equipment you may purchase in the future. This is critical to the overall efficiency of your packaging line and avoiding getting stuck with outdated machines. While a filling machine may work for current production needs, it’s always good to ask if it can handle variations in demand that may occur in the future. Many filling machines can be upgraded by simply adding more heads. Others may include the ability to add indexing systems and dashboards to transition to an automated production model.

Semi-automatic or manual filling machines may not be easy to integrate, but most automatic liquid filling machines are designed for smooth alignment.

Buying a filler is a long-term investment. Choosing the right supplier can be crucial to your company’s growth and profitability, so planning should not only be done with your current needs in mind, but your future needs as well.

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