While there are many questions to ask and answer when searching for the ideal filling solution, there are also a number of questions that will almost always be asked at the beginning of the process. The following are a few of the most common questions raised when analyzing a filling project, along with some general answers to those questions.
Which fill type is best for my project?
Different types of filling machines fill in different ways. Gravity filling machines and piston fillers fill by volume, while an overflow filling machine will fill to a level. Net weight machines, obviously, fill bottles by weight. Many different factors, such as industry standards, the actual product, the viscosity of the product and more will help to determine which liquid fillers can be used on a project as well as the benefits of each. In analyzing these factors, the ideal fill type or types can be identified.
What level of automation do I need?
From simple tabletop machinery to fully automated bottle fillers, and many options in between, the level of automation can vary from operator-driven to almost no operator interaction at all. The level of automation will be determined by such factors as the amount of labor available, the production demand, space available and more. In addition, it is always a good idea to plan for the ability to upgrade machinery, including the automation level, in the future, as most packagers strive for growth. NPACK filling machines are almost always upgradeable to allow the packaging machinery to grow with the company.
How many bottles per minute will the filling machine run?
Related to the automation level is the speed of the machine, and one recurring question is how many bottles per minute (BPM) will the filler run. This depends on the level of automation as well as other factors such as the size of the bottles. Figuring BPM for automatic machinery is really just a mathematical equation, as each cycle will be repeatable. As an example, if a sixteen head filler can run 5 cycles per minute, the BPM for the machine is 80 BPM. Semi-automatic filling machinery, however, relies on an operator to perform each cycle, so that the BPM for these bottle fillers will depend on the performance of the operator. While the speed of the semi-automatic machines can be estimated, it will not be as simple as the mathematical equation as fatigue, breaks and other tasks of the operator will all need to be factored in to determine the BPM.
Can the liquid filler handle all of my bottle sizes?
The simple answer to this question is yes, with rare exceptions. Filling machines are built to handle a wide range of container sizes and are designed to make changeover as simple as possible. In most cases, moving from one bottle size to another will require tool-less modifications, such as loosening hand knobs to adjust rails or simply flipping a switch to raise or lower fill heads. In those rare cases when bottle sizes range from extremely small to extremely tall, custom solutions may be considered to find a solution to handle all bottles sizes.
How easy is the filling machine to clean?
Cleaning and maintenance of liquid fillers will depend in part on the type of filling machine chosen for any project. Automatic equipment may be built with a Clean-In-Place System (CIP) that allows cleaning of the tank and the product pathway through the PLC and touchscreen operator interface. Semi-automatic equipment can typically be cleaned by simply flushing the product pathway at the end of the production day or as necessary. Regardless of the type of equipment, however, bottle fillers are designed to make the cleaning process as simple as possible to reduce downtime and keep the machine producing finished product efficiently.
Each filling project will be unique in some way, which will lead to other questions regarding the design, performance and maintenance of the equipment. At NPACK, each project is analyzed individually to ensure that the best filling solution is put in place. To discuss your project with an NPACK representative, simply call the offices today or use the website contact forms or chat requests to get in touch.