Whether you are putting up a new plant or automating an existing one, considering an individual machine or investing in a complete line, purchasing modern equipment can be an uphill task. A point to remember is that the liquid filling machine is the one machine in direct contact with your liquid product. So besides operational efficiency, it needs to handle your product with care, without compromising on product quality and hygiene.
There are many aspects and criteria to be considered when selecting the best liquid filling machine for your enterprise. Let’s discuss 5 of the most basic ones:
1. Your product details
First of all, define your product viscosity. Is it fluid and water-like or is it semi-viscous? Or is it very thick and sticky? This will help you decide what type of filler is suitable for you. A piston filler works well for thick viscous products while a gravity filler serves thin, fluid products better.
Does your product have any particulates as in salad dressings or pasta sauces, which have chunks of vegetables? These could block the nozzle of gravity filler.
Or your product may need a specific environment. Biotech or pharmaceutical products call for aseptic filling within a sterile environment; chemical products require fire-retardant, explosion-proof systems. There are stringent rules and standards regarding such products. Listing such details is imperative before you decide on your liquid filling machine.
2. Your container
When considering your liquid filling machine, it’s important to specify what type of containers you propose to fill. Will you be filling flexible pouches, tetrapacks or bottles? If bottles, what is the size, shape and material? Glass or plastic? What type of cap or lid is required? Crimp cap, fill cap, press-on cap, twist on, spray – there are endless options possible.
Further, do you require a labelling solution as well? Defining all such needs beforehand will make it easier when discussing your plans with your packaging systems and supplies provider.
Ideally, your liquid filling line should offer flexibility; it should handle a range of bottle sizes & shapes with minimal changeover time.
3. Level of automation
Even if this is your first foray into automated liquid filling, you should be able to specify how many bottles you need to produce in a day, week or year. Defining the level of production makes it easier to calculate the speed or capacity per minute/hour of the machine you are considering.
One thing is certain: the selected machine should have the ability to grow with growing operations. Liquid fillers should be upgradable and the machine should accommodate more filling heads when required.
The number of bottles per minute required to reach production demands will help you decide if a manual, semi-automatic or fully automated packaging system is right for you. Some experts feel that for small production runs, semi-automatic or even manual liquid filling machines make sense. When production picks up or new products are introduced, you can upgrade to a fully automated one which requires less operator interaction and dramatically increases the rate of filling.
A point to consider if whether the new liquid filling machine you propose to purchase can integrate with your existing equipment or even the equipment you may buy in the future. This is crucial to the overall efficiency of your packaging line and to avoid being stuck with obsolete machinery later. Semi-automatic or manual filling machines may not be easy to integrate but most automatic liquid filling machines are designed to align seamlessly.
Filling accuracy is a key advantage of automated packaging systems. Or it should be! Under-filled containers can lead to customer complaints while overfilling is waste you can ill afford.
Automation can ensure accurate filling. Automated filling machines come equipped with PLC that control filling parameters, ensure product flow and consistent, precise filling. Overflow of product is eliminated which not only saves money by saving product, but it also reduces time and expenses spent on cleaning the machine and surrounding areas.
All this being said, if you’re considering a liquid filling machine or bottling line for your business, get in touch with Nichrome. Over decades in the packaging industry, Nichrome has built the technology and capabilities to partner with customers, understand needs & challenges, and custom-design the most relevant, robust and innovative packaging solution for your enterprise.
Nichrome offers food packaging systems, pharma packaging systems and custom packaging systems which are integrated smoothly into your operations with packaging systems integration.