Packagers now are faced many challenges, especially on the cost of time and money. Thus, the involvement of machinery in streamlining the packaging process is a great need.
Liquid filling machines are among the most sought equipment in the packaging business. And along with the rise of various beverages, there is an increase in production demands. This calls for more efficient ways of filling liquids in which liquid fillers take a great part in.
So in today’s topic, we are going to talk about the key elements you should know about liquid packaging machines.
A liquid packaging machine, also known as a flow filling machine, is used to fill products with different liquid viscosities into various container types either through the volumetric or quantitative filling. They can handle liquid products ranging from water-like to heavy-viscous and extremely thick ones.
No single type of liquid filler can simultaneously handle all kinds of liquids you see in different packaging industries. For example, a liquid filler that is made for packaging water might not be ideal for handling cosmetic products. Also, you cannot use a liquid filler meant for chemical products to fill dairy or pharmaceutical products.
Just like any packaging machine, liquid fillers are important in the manufacturing industry for promoting the efficiency and quality of the products being processed. Furthermore, the appropriate liquid filler machinery for your application depends on a variety of factors including the following:
According to a report on automatic liquid filling market, the expected growth rate of the market for automated liquid filling machines from 2019-2024 is 7%. Meaning, the need for optimized packaging lines to increase production efficiency is increasing. An automatic filling machine helps meet this demand through the minimization of human errors because they are operated using computers.
Moreover, associated with the increasing demand for liquid fillers are the key trends in the market for liquid filling machines and the machines themselves.
Below are the five trends that packagers are following in liquid filling machines.
Every type of liquid filling machinery has its own operating mechanism. But in general, all liquid fillers incorporate similar working principles.
Regardless of how the machine handles the liquid product for the filling process depending on the liquid’s viscosity, all liquid fillers fill a specific amount of liquid into each container at a certain speed depending on the machine’s automation level. The number of filling nozzles the machine has will also affect how many containers it can fill simultaneously.
For fully-automatic liquid fillers, the containers travel through a power conveyor system to the filling station. The filling nozzles dispense the liquid product, which is contained in a cylinder or hopper, to the container either via quantitative or volumetric filling depending on the type of machine. We will discuss the various types of liquid fillers further in the next section.
Once the containers are filled, they continue traveling to the next stage of the packaging process which is usually the capping process.
While fully automatic liquid fillers do not need much interaction with the operator, semi-automatic liquid fillers do not come with power conveyors. Thus, the operator will need to manually place the containers into the machine and then initiate the filling process via a finger or a footswitch.
There are also manual liquid fillers that are operated solely by hand. They are similar to semi-automatic filling machines but manual fillers do not require a power source for the filling process, unlike semi-automatic ones.
Liquid filling machines can be classified based on different factors. These factors include the machine’s usage/application and production speed as will be discussed in this section.
The design of a specialized rotary liquid filling machine is typically much larger compared to inline liquid fillers. Rotary fillers can come in 25, 50, 100, or more filling heads. They are big and they fill containers at fast speeds, allowing your packaging line to produce far greater numbers of containers per minute compared to the capacity of an average inline filling machine.
But, when a complication occurs in the middle of the production process, many containers are wasted because many more containers are present in the filling machine in every given time. Thus, rotary liquid filler machines are more complicated to operate and fix compared to inline filling machines that allow operators to fix the problems on the fly.
With this being said, large thriving companies can benefit a lot from the unmatched speed and production capacity of rotary liquid fillers. This is why large enterprises such as Coca-Cola opt for these kinds of machines.
As the name suggests, an inline liquid filling machine fills containers in a continuous line using a conveyor system. They are popular to packagers due to their cost-effectiveness and easy adjustment to each packager’s needs. They come in four to twenty filling heads/nozzles and sometimes more to accommodate the production requirements of different businesses.
Companies with low to medium production rate requirements often opt for inline liquid fillers. This is because the design of these machines allows for easier detection of problems during the production process.
When a complication occurs, you can easily stop, fix, and resume the machine into production at a faster speed compared to rotary liquid fillers. Thus, resulting in fewer numbers of wasted containers.
Some inline liquid fillers are designed to be scalable which allows packagers to increase the number of filling heads when their output requirement increases. This speeds up the production of your packaging line.
Vacuum filling machines use vacuum feeding and vane cell feed systems. They are usually used for filling viscous/paste products. In the filling process, the liquid products are transported with the help of the following:
The liquid products are drawn gently from the hopper into the vane cell feed system through the application of vacuum using a vacuum pump. This process happens once a pre-evacuated cell in the feed system moves underneath the hopper. This generates a continuous flow of the product during the filling process.
Volumetric liquid filling machines fill products into containers via a volumetric filling principle. There are two common types of volumetric fillers: gravity and piston fillers.
Gravity filling machines allow the operator to set the fill time of the individual nozzles of the machine. This allows the right volume of liquid product to be dispensed into each container for more accuracy.
In these kinds of machines, the liquid products flow through tubes towards the nozzles via gravity. This makes gravity fillers ideal for efficient filling of thin and free-flowing products versus thicker liquids that move slowly.
Piston filling machines are more suitable for thicker and high-viscosity liquid products but they can handle thin liquids too. Thick products do not flow freely so they need a little help before they can reach the bottles. You can also use these machines for products containing large particulates such as bits and pieces of fruits and vegetables
Piston fillers fill products into a cylinder first before using pistons in pushing the product from the cylinder towards the waiting containers below the filling nozzles. The unchanging volume of the cylinder helps in achieving accurate volumetric fills.
Overflow filling machines adopt the principle of overflow filling as indicated by their name. These machines provide an alternative to the volumetric fill of gravity filling machines.
Instead of filling a certain amount of product into each bottle, overflow fillers fill each bottle with identical levels of liquid, regardless of the bottles’ slight volume differences. Thus, making overflow fillers an ideal solution for filling clear containers. This is because these machines give an aesthetic value to the products once on the shelves.
Moreover, overflow fillers work best with thin liquid products and for foaming products that need to be controlled during the process of filling.
Pump filling machines are perfect for handling thick products. They can match the pump to your liquid product for more efficient and consistent fills made possible by the different kinds of pumps you can choose from.
Packagers have the option for either pulse or time based fills when using pump fillers. These machines add a little push in getting thicker liquid products such as oils, gels, and others. But, there are also pumps that are suitable for low-viscosity products as well.
Net weight filling machines work by filling containers using a fixed weight set by the operator. They use weighing scale platforms in monitoring product weights as the product is being filled into a container. These machines are ideal for filling bulk quantities of liquids into containers with very high values, like 5-gallon pails, that you need to weight correctly to prevent profit loss.
Moreover, net weight filler machines are suitable for fills that are highly accurate, especially when packaging products that are labeled by weight.
Fully automatic liquid fillers will not require much human interaction because the whole filling process is automated. This dramatically increases the filling rate of your production line.
These machines come in full portable frames which allow the packager to install a power conveyor system for automatic filling of the containers. Businesses having high-production demands and large-scale operations are the ones who use automatic liquid filling machines.
As mentioned earlier, semi-automatic liquid fillers require the operator to manually place each container below the filling nozzle and start the filling process via a switch.
Once the containers are filled, the operator needs to remove them by hand then transfer them to the succeeding stage of the packaging process. Moreover, some semi-automatic fillers might require the operator to refill the products as necessary.
Tabletop liquid fillers are the commonly used types of semi-automatic fillers. They come in designs that provide the operator enough room to move each container to and from the machine in each filling cycle.
As the name states, a manual liquid filler is manually operated and does not require a power source or electricity. This makes them suitable to be used in applications where electricity and compressed air are not available.
As mentioned earlier, the viscosity of your liquid products will have an impact on which filling principle is the most appropriate one for your application. Some liquid filler types are more appropriate in filling free-flowing liquids and some are also better at handling highly viscous products.
Below are the recommended liquid fillers to use for each type of liquid viscosity based on the filling principle the machines adapt.
Free-flowing liquids are thin, water-like, and have low viscosity values. Thus, overflow and gravity filling machines are more appropriate for these types of products.
Viscous liquid filling machines are used for handling thick liquid products with high viscosities. These machines include pump and piston filling machines. Vacuum liquid fillers are also recommended for paste products.
Lastly, aside from the aforementioned categorizations, liquid fillers can also be classified further according to the type of container that the machine is handling. Different filling machines are used to handle different types of packages such as the following:
Can / Tin, Bottle, Pouc, Bag-in-boxes, Bags, Jars, Pots, Vials, Bottles, Tanks, Buckets, Sacks, Pails, Ampoules, Canister, Drum, Tray, Jug
With the flexibility of modern liquid filling machines, you can pretty much fill any type of liquid product using them. But do note that some adjustments would be needed on your desired machine for handling different liquid products such as the ones listed below per industry.
Water, Ice Cream, Cordials, Lassis, Fruit Juice, Smoothies, Yoghurt, Syrups, Honey, Wines, Liquors, Spirits, Soft Drinks, Alcohol, Vinegar, Oils, Mayonnaise, Dips and Dressings, Sauces, Salsa, Mustard, Marmalade, Jam, Ketchup, etc.
Vitamins, Minerals, Vitamin Supplements, Food Supplements, Cough Syrups, Cold and Flu Remedies, Paracetamol Suspensions, Digestive Remedies, Sports Nutrition, Anesthetics, Solvents, Eczema Creams, Acne Treatments, Lotions, Sun Creams, Skin Care Products, Foot Care Products, Ear Drops, Eye Drops, Lubricants, etc.
Foundation, Make-Up Remover, Face Cream, Nail Polish, Nail Polish Remover, Lotion, Face Masks, Depilatory Wax, Hair Dye, Hair Wax, Hair Gel, Shampoo, Conditioner, Liquid Soaps, Bath and Shower Gels, Deodorants, Toothpastes, Perfumes, Body Sprays, Massage Oils, etc.
Paints, Printing Inks, Coatings, Glues, Construction Sealants, Bonding Solutions, Rust Treatments, Surface Coatings, Cutting Fluids, Thread Locks, Release Agents, Isopropanol, Acetones, Methanol, Thinners, Bleach, Detergents, Deodorisers, Disinfectants, Degreasers, Descalers, Polishes, etc.
Deodorants, Shampoos, Conditioner, Flea and Tick Treatments, Stain and Odor Remover Products, Isotonic Drinks, Vitamins and Minerals, Nutritional Supplements, Disinfectants, Iodine, Sheep Dip, Udder Treatments, Insecticides and Repellents, Ear Cleaners, Eye Drops, Oral Suspensions, Aqueous Creams, Liquid Anaesthetics, Lotions, etc.
Lube Oils, Coolants, Antifreeze, Screen Washes, Degreasers, Shampoos, Polishes, Air Fresheners, Leather Care, Paints, Wax Oils, Chain Lubes, Visor Cleaners, Cleaners, Puncture Repair Products, Hydraulic Fluids, Paints, Varnishes, Anti-Fouling Liquids, Upholstery Cleaners. etc.
Fabric Softeners, Disinfectants, Bleaches, Window Cleaners, Toilet Cleaners, Floor Cleaners, Paints, Varnishes, Wood Stains, Sugar Soaps, White Spirit, Brush Cleaners, Paint Strippers, Adhesives, Fertilizers, Insecticides, Herbicides, Weed Killers, Fragrances, Diffusers, Air Fresheners, Deodorisers, Aromatherapies, Essential Oils, Leather Cleaners, Leather Dyes, Fabric Protectors, Shoe Polishes, Shoe Cleaners, etc.
For newbie packagers, the process of selecting a liquid filling machine for their project can be an overwhelming process. How will you know that you are choosing the right one for your specific application? Of course, your choice of machine is going to depend on a lot of factors.
So to help you a bit on how to choose the appropriate liquid filling machine for your business, below are some important tips that we have compiled for you.
Before purchasing a liquid filling machine, the very first question that you should ask yourself is what liquid products will you be handling. Different filling equipment handles different liquid viscosities – from free-flowing to highly viscous ones. Thus, it is important to consider your liquid product’s consistency and viscosity when buying a liquid filler.
There are liquid products with changing viscosity values when subjected to temperature change. Meanwhile, other liquids might include particulates. Examples would be salad dressings and liquid soaps. Any of your product’s unique characteristics will affect which type of liquid filling machinery best suits your project.
As mentioned earlier, different liquid filling machines will be used for handling different types of containers. For instance, overflow filling machines are more suitable for clear containers. These machines fill at consistent levels without any regard to the slight inconsistencies in the interior volume of the containers. Thus, providing your products a pleasing appearance upon reaching the shelves.
Your desired production requirements will determine the ideal automation level for your liquid filling machine. Different machine automation will have their own production capacities so you will have to know your production demands.
Searching for the appropriate liquid filling machine for your application can be a long process. But, being knowledgeable about the key elements associated with these machines can help you a lot.
For better results, it is recommended that you choose a good liquid filling machine manufacturer who can help you in the selection process. Moreover, there will be times wherein a few modifications on the existing liquid fillers would be needed to better accommodate your packaging line’s needs. Thus, machine customization is also important when searching for a manufacturer.
Levapack offers both machine customization and consultation services prior to the manufacture of your ideal liquid filling machine. So feel free to check out our products and contact us for a perfect packaging solution!