While automatic filling machines can be custom manufactured to meet the specific needs of each individual project, there are a number of features that will be found on almost every liquid filler. These standard features are incorporated on a vast majority of the machinery simply because their existence helps to create efficiency, reliability, consistency, or all three! Below are some of the common features, in addition to being American Made, that will likely be found on NPACK automatic liquid fillers even when the machines are custom manufactured.
PORTABLE STAINLESS STEEL FRAMES
The portable frames used for most automatic fillers allow the machines to be integrated into just about any existing packaging line or design. The equipment can basically roll right up to a conveyor and be ready to start filling product. Though there are exceptions, stainless steel allows for a heavy duty frame that will not be easily jostled, vibrated or otherwise moved from position once on the line. The exception to this rule, of course, is when filling corrosive products that may react poorly with stainless steel. In these cases, a plastic, or HDPE, frame can be substituted.
PLC WITH TOUCHSCREEN INTERFACE
The brain of the automatic liquid filling machine is the Programmable Logic Controller (PLC). The PLC receives and sends signals that allow the machine to work without the assistance of an operator with every fill cycle. These machines will control signals for indexing, fill times, product replenishment to tanks and much more. Filling machines from NPACK will also include a touchscreen interface, allowing operators a centrally located control panel that includes recipe screens to save and recall all settings for specific bottle and product combinations. The PLC and operator interface reduce startup, changeover and maintenance time by making a number of different functions easily accessible.
POWER HEIGHT ADJUSTMENT
Power height adjustment on filling machines also helps make the changeover process quick and easy. From small to large bottles, individual heads need not be realigned up and down, no hand cranks are necessary. Instead, with the flip of a switch, all heads can be raised or lowered to the proper height in a matter of seconds. This, combined with the simple PLC controls, again saves precious production time, allowing more product to be prepared for the shelf.
MULTIPLE FILL HEADS
Every filling machine can be manufactured with multiple fill heads, allowing the packager to fill four, eight or even sixteen bottles at once after the containers have been indexed and are in position. Of course, speed is often an end goal when it comes to automating a packaging line and being able to start with multiple filling heads or add more filling heads in the future can guarantee that the speed of the equipment will keep up with the demand for the product.
Vision systems communicate with the PLC mentioned above to ensure that the liquid filler runs smoothly throughout production. These systems can be used to count bottles as they index in to the machine, ensure that the right number of bottles are available for the fill and even protect against downtime by pausing the machine if there is a problem downstream, such as a bottle jam or capper or labeler malfunction. These vision systems help the operator monitor the filling and packaging process and minimize downtime by stopping possible issues before they occur.
As mentioned above, the design of a filling machine will typically allow for the addition of more fill heads in the future. Being able to upgrade means the filling machine can grow with the company. Starting with two fill heads and being able to upgrade to sixteen leaves plenty of room for company growth without the fear of outgrowing the capability of the packaging equipment. Different types of filling machines will have a different maximum fill head number, but NPACK attempts to design all machines for the possibility of growth.
Of course, with a number of possible filling principles and machine types, there will be different features on the different machines. However, the features outlined above will be found on a majority of NPACK filling equipment regardless of principle or type. To learn more about a specific type of filling machine - from overflow and gravity to pump, piston and more - browse the NPACK website or contact a Packaging Specialist at NPACK today.