In order to fill any liquid product in to any type of container, the product must first be brought to the filling machine. Product from bulk container will often be brought in to a supply tank found on different types of filling machinery. Just like other components of a filling machine, the volume, location, shape and other features of the tank will depend on the project at hand. In addition to finding a tank of suitable size and shape, some projects will require the supply tank to do a little more work as well. Below are four other capabilities of filling machine tanks for special or unique packaging projects.
Agitating the Product
When products contain particulates or even a mixture of liquids, some component of the product may have a tendency to settle. For instance, particulates or chunks of food in a sauce may fall to the bottom of a tank if they are heavier than the liquid itself. This issue can be solved by adding an agitator to a supply tank to ensure that settling does not occur and can be achieved by using a paddle, wheel or some other way to keep product mixed or moving in the tank.
Controlling Product Heat
A number of products may need to be heated in order to fill consistently. From highly viscous products to some solid finished products, keeping a liquid heated to the same temperature from the supply tank right through the nozzles can help to efficiently and reliably fill products that might otherwise need to be done by hand. The temperature must be kept constant to avoid changes in the viscosity of the product, which can result in inconsistent fills. Heating the supply tank is the beginning of the process of creating these consistent fills.
Re-supplying the Supply Tank
When filling at high speeds, a supply tank may quickly and frequently run out of product. In such cases, efficiency could be undermined should an operator need to constantly supply product to the tank. Instead, most tanks will include an automatic re-supply system, the most common of which is a float system. When the tank is low, the float allows the filling machine PLC to send a signal to the pump to add more product from the bulk supply! Rather than constantly adding to the supply tank, an operator of an automatic system need only add new bulk supply when the time comes.
Cleaning the Tank
For companies running more than one product or certain categories of product (think foods), cleaning the tank at the end of the day or in between product changeovers can be a very important task. However, disassembling a tank, along with the entire product pathway, for cleaning can be a long and tedious task, leading to extended downtime. For this reason, many packagers take advantage of a clean-in-place (CIP) system that allows the tank, and pathway, to be cleaned with little to no disassembly. The CIP system allows a water, product or a cleaning product to be run through the product pathway in order to clean, rinse and quickly prepare the system for the next production run with minimal downtime.
The options or features of each tank will depend on the project at hand, and a tank may include all four or none of the features noted above. Unique and special projects may also call for customizing the filling machine tank to achieve specific goals! For more information on filling machines, tanks and tank features, contact a representative of NPACK today.