Businesses face a lot of challenges when filling powder products. Most importantly when choosing the appropriate powder filling equipment for their specific application. They need to find filling solutions that meet their requirements in order to generate a reasonable return on investment.
So we created this guide to help novice packagers select the right powder filling machine or powder filler that fulfills their financial goals and customer expectations. We will be discussing the key aspects you need to know regarding powder filling machines – from their benefits and limitations to the various powder filler types and the things to consider before purchasing one.
Without further ado, let us now start with our discussion.
Powder filling machines are essential in filling a wide variety of both free-flowing and non-free-flowing powdered or granulated products.
Powder products that are not cohesive, like granulated sugar or table salt, are defined as free-flowing. They are not easily compressed when extra pressure is added and even when manipulated, they will not maintain their shape. Contrastingly, non-free-flowing powder products, such as powdered milk and brown sugar, can be compressed and they keep their shape when manipulated.
There are many types of powder filling machines based on the machine design and automation level configured for either quantitative or volumetric filling. Some filling machines can only handle either free-flowing or non-free-flowing powders but there are also some than can handle both.
Moreover, powder fillers fill powder products into different types of packages including the following: Bag, Bag-in-boxes, Cans, Jars, Vials, Bottles, Pots, Tins, Tanks, Sacks, Buckets, Sacks
Powder fillers help various industrial sectors in different ways depending on what application is attached to them. The gist is, you can use them for filling any type of powder product.
Listed below are some of the common industries along with sample products that use powder filling machinery in the packaging process.
If your powder product is not included in the list above, you can consult your powder filling machine manufacturer. For sure, they will always have a machine fitted for handling any particular powder product.
If you want your business to keep up with the current competition, you should start to consider opting for modern solutions for your packaging applications. Below are the benefits you will have by using powder filler machinery.
With automated powder filling machines, you can reduce your operating expenses by eliminating unnecessary labor fees and costly spills. Sure, you may think that investing in these machines is too much but in the long run, they can help you generate good sales aside from saving you time and money.
Powder filling machinery ensures uniformity in the filling process to produce more precise powder fills. High accuracy and precision are requisites for powder filler machines to guarantee that the right dosage is filled into each package. This reduces possible wastages that are common in manual filling processes.
Various powder filling machines allow for easy changeover of container sizes with different fill levels by adjusting the machine components. They can even handle any type of packages, from pouches to bottles, depending on the kind of powder filler you want to opt for. You can also ask your powder filling machine manufacturer to customize your machine based on your exact application.
Powder fillers are available in a wide range of production capacities to meet low or high production needs. Enterprises with high-production demands will surely benefit the most by integrating fully-automatic powder fillers in their production line to streamline the packaging process.
Given the flexibility of powder filling machines, there are also some limitations that you will encounter. But, these limitations will depend on the type of powder filler you are eyeing for. That is why it is always important to consult your manufacturer regarding your desired powder filling machine to suit your application best.
When you are planning to purchase powder filling machinery for your project, spend some time evaluating the performance of each filling equipment to find which one suits your application best. In this section, we present to you the common types of powder filling equipment used in various industries.
These machines perform three functions:
VFFS machines can handle both free-flowing and non-free flowing powder products. They have compact and ergonomic designs that can save you space. Larger bag packages would need larger VFFS machines also.
These are commonly used for filling pharmaceutical products and can only perform small powder fill amounts at once. They do not have scalable options too so they are among the less used fillers in the market.
Single head powder fillers can perform all of the filling processes using a single machine filling head. They can precisely fill both free-flowing and non-free flowing powder products. Though they only use a single filling head, they can produce accurate fills at fast speeds with smooth changeover of parts. However, they fill bulky powder products slowly.
These machines use two filling heads capable of handling bulky powders, unlike single head powder fillers. They can fill any powder product at fast filling rates and can handle several containers per minute. However, they are slower compared to net weight and auger fillers. Also, double head powder fillers may sometimes produce inconsistent and inaccurate fill weights.
Auger powder fillers are the most popularly used types of volumetric powder fillers and consist of an auger, stirring bar, and hopper. These are best-suited in filling fine powders such as talcum powder, cake mixes, and flours at extremely fast speeds. They do not emit a lot of dust but they can be equipped with dust collectors whatever you prefer. Lastly, auger powder filling machines can fill both free-flowing and non-free flowing powder products with uniform particles.
Vacuum powder fillers can fill powder products into various containers without an agitator and auger. Meaning, the powders do not undergo any agglomeration or breakdown which preserves the product’s integrity.
They produce little to no dust and can handle both free-flowing and non-free flowing powders with fast changeover of parts. However, these machines are not recommended for handling powder granules requiring some breakdown.
These filling machines are ideal for handling free-flowing powder products but do not work well with non-free flowing powders. They can fill up to a hundred containers per minute and are quite affordable than other filling machines. With their compressed structure, they can minimize mechanical damages.
However, volumetric cup powder fillers cannot handle irregularly shaped/sized products and can only handle a few fills with no changeover of parts.
Net weight powder fillers are the only machines that weigh the powder product before filling it into the containers. They use weigh cells and check weighers to produce accurate fill weights. They can handle heavy granular and powder products and can even make up for inconsistencies in granules that are irregularly shaped.
However, net weight powder filling machines produce dust when handling fine powders like flour and talcs. They may not give the consistency enterprises are expecting for fine powders. Lastly, they perform slower compared to augers and volumetric cup fillers.
Like any packaging machinery, powder filling machines are classified into categories based on the machine design and automation level as will be discussed in the following sections.
The processes in these machines are performed in a continuous line and they normally have single infeed and output lanes. The main disadvantage of inline machines is they need wider spaces to operate. But still, some packagers prefer these machines because they enhance visibility making the stations easier to inspect.
Rotary machines have more ergonomic formats wherein the filling process is done in a circular manner. Thus, making the starting and ending stations of the machine closer to each other. A rotary design allows the machine to occupy less space compared to inline powder filling machines.
Rotary powder fillers also have faster production speeds compared to inline powder fillers so they are suitable for large businesses requiring high production demands. They can have multiple in-feed lanes to accommodate various filling capacities.
Aside from the machine design, powder filling machinery can also be grouped into three distinct classes based on the machine’s automation level: manual, semi-automatic, and fully-automatic powder filling machines.
In manual powder fillers, the operators need to be alert always and take part in the powder filling process. They need to manually perform most of the tasks including the following:
These machines are similar to fully-automatic powder fillers except that there are some processes you need to manually conduct yourself. But, you can upgrade them easily to become fully-automatic machines with little modifications.
Also, semi-automatic powder fillers can have a PLC control system for performing automatic tasks such as quantitative filling and measuring error adjustments. However, these features do not qualify them as automated.
Lastly, semi-automatic machine designs allow the operator to have more control over the filling process. Operators can even use weight-based or volumetric filling limits. However, automatic augers work independently because they follow vibration and compression filling limits.
Machines in fully-automatic designs make use of the latest technology resulting in more reasonable, concise, and robust machinery. The majority of the operations are done automatically such as the feeding of the powder product into the hopper/tank, product weighing/measuring, and filling. They do not need much human intervention in performing the tasks.
Most importantly, fully-automatic powder fillers can handle both powder and granulated products. Thus, you will have a much easier and flexible packaging operation.
This component holds the powder product to be fed into the packages. Some powder fillers may include level sensors that detect the current amount of powder in the hopper.
The filling heads dispense powder product from the hopper into the packages for the filling process.
A powder filler can either have a linear or rotary mechanical drive system which determines the motion of the machine’s moving components. This system includes gears, conveyors, and mechanical motors.
Sensors help ensure proper positioning of the containers along with the accuracy of the fills. They signal the machine to either resume or stop the filling process if no container is detected.
Operators use the PLC control system of the powder filling equipment to configure the settings of the filling process. Some machines will include a touch screen interface to allow easier machine operation without human intervention.
Some powder fillers will have either a weigher or measuring cup to guarantee more precise quantitative fills of powder products into the packages.
Once you have familiarized yourself with the basics of a powder filling machine, of course, your next step would be to purchase one. So we are going to end this discussion by giving you the key factors you need to consider when choosing a powder filler machinery for your application.
Each powder filling machine can handle specific powder and granule properties. Some are suited more for handling free-flowing powders and some for non-free flowing products. Other than the flow characteristics of your powder product, you should also consider the following product properties:
Decide if you will use sticks, pouches, bags, cans, bottles, or any type of containers for packaging your powder product. Different machines are needed for every type of packaging. Moreover, the filling range of your machine will depend on the size of the container you will be using. So choose a powder filling machine that can handle various fill masses.
Note that each type of powder filling machine has different production capacities. Fully-automatic powder machines are obviously faster than semi-automatic ones. Thus, they are best for high-volume productions. The same goes for rotary and inline filling machines.
Also, consider the hopper volume capacity of the machine to see if it is appropriate for your production requirements.
Some powder fillers only have buttons and switches for controlling the machine operation. If you want more flexibility in controlling the production process, opt for more advanced machines with a digital PLC control system integrated with a man-machine interface.
The driving mechanism of the powder filling machine provides the required thrust to move the components of the machine. Below are your possible options:
Among these five, servo motors are the most popular ones.
You will have a lot of options for the machine material too but corrosive-resistant materials are advisable especially for the product contact points. Stainless steel #304 and #316 are the most recommended ones.
No machine is completely flawless but you must make sure that you get one with reasonable fault degrees. Some machine manufacturers will even include the filling error/accuracy of their machines in their technical specifications sheet.
Check if the machine has sensors, detectors, timers or filling controls. These components help ensure more accurate and precise fills.
Having enough knowledge regarding the different aspects of powder filling machines can help you determine which machine will work best for your application. Machines are huge investments so you need to make sure that you get the right one to avoid any incompatibility issues in the long run.
Better yet, choose a powder filling machine manufacturer that offers consultation services during the whole process of your machine’s customization. This guarantees that you’ll get a machine perfectly tailored to your business’ exact needs. If you need help with a packaging solution, don’t hesitate to contact us. We are more than happy to assist you at Levapack.