Obviously, packagers do not expect to purchase a different filling machine for every bottle or container that they need to prepare for the shelf. Therefore, liquid fillers must be manufactured to be flexible enough to handle a range of container shapes and sizes. Many companies will fill single serving sizes of their product along with family size, party size, bulk or other variations. For this reason, all NPACK filling machines are made to not only handle multiple container sizes, but also to make the changeover from one to another as quick and as simple as possible.
Many of the adjustments when moving from a small to large bottle, or vice versa, entail manual or mechanical adjustments to the physical aspects of the machine. For example, a larger bottle is typically wider than smaller counterparts, which means the fill heads themselves will need to be adjusted for the increased width. These adjustments simply require the loosening of a hand knob in most cases, allowing heads to be re-positioned with ease.
Conveyor railing may also need to be adjusted for bottle stability. The railing should guide bottles down the conveyor and leaving railing too loose or too tight can result in tipping containers, spills, and inconsistent spills. Adjusting railing is also simple, again requiring the loosening and tightening of hand knobs to slide the railing in to place.
Indexing systems help position the correct number of bottles in the correct position under the fill heads. Though several indexing systems exist, automatic filling machines will often use a pin system to hold and release bottles. Adjusting one of the gates to accommodate larger or smaller bottles will entail loosening simple wing nuts and sliding the gate to the desired position before tightening the same. Except for rare instances usually on custom machinery, all of these aspects of a changeover can be accomplished free from tools.
Of course, there will usually also be adjustments to be made on the touchscreen operator interface as well. These changes affect the performance of the machine as the fill occurs, or the fill cycle itself. The changes made will depend on the type of liquid filler in use, but in general terms will include things like an increase in fill times, which can be an increase in time itself, in pump duration, amount or some other form based on filling principle. Other features of filling machines, such as drip trays, neck locaters and diving heads, can also be turned on and off at the touchscreen. For these automatic fillers, recipes can also be saved and recalled, allowing for all of the necessary interface changes from bottle to bottle to be completed in a single step.
Some specific machine types may require additional adjustments during changeover. For example, an overflow filling machine may require a change in the spacers found on each nozzle to ensure proper fill level. However, additional changes normally will not require tools to make the modifications.
The simplicity built in to the changeover process on NPACK filling machines helps to minimize downtime between product runs and maximize the output of the packaging line as a whole. Have a question about Filling Machines, or Packaging Machinery in general? Contact the Packaging Specialists at NPACK and we will help you find your answer.