While most filling machines are powered by electricity, products do exist that create a dangerous situation when combined with the possibility of an arc or spark. In these cases, packaging equipment, including filling machines, will be designed and manufactured to run pneumatically. In general terms, pneumatic filling machines replace electrical components with those that run on compressed air.
So why use air instead of electrical power? In a relatively few cases, the electricity necessary to run a bottle filler may simply not be available in the building or the area where production will take place. Much more often, however, the product itself may be susceptible to reacting in a dangerous manner with electricity. A spark while working with a flammable liquid can have disastrous results, so that the removal of electricity from the equation ensures the safety of the equipment and those working with the equipment. With some harsh chemicals, even the fumes may react in a negative manner in the event of an arc or a spark from an electrical element.
In these cases, the different components of the filling machine will be powered by compressed air rather than electrical signals. Different functions will be controlled by the compressed air depending on the type of filling principle being used, but almost any fill type can incorporate pneumatic controls or components for the unique products mentioned above. This change allows products such as alcohols, acids, bleaches and a number of other chemicals to take advantage of automated packaging without turning the production floor in to a hazardous location.
While pneumatic equipment is the exception rather than the norm, it is always important to analyze your product and your production environment to ensure that such dangers are not present. NPACK will help packagers walk through this and other considerations to ensure that the best packaging equipment can be chosen for any given project. To learn more about the different types of filling machines, visit the Filling Machinery section of the NPACK website or call a Packaging Specialist at NPACK for a one-on-one conversation about your project.