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Filling on a budget

Economical pressure filler is easy to operate and handles viscous product for start-up contract packager GLH Industries.

The filler handles viscous product such as this wallpaper cleaning fluid
The filler handles viscous product such as this wallpaper cleaning fluid

In a nondescript metal building in Auburn, GA, far from the traffic and hubub of Atlanta, contract packager GLH Industries has been putting an inexpensive, semi-automatic pressure filler through its paces for the past 12 months. At the time of Packaging World's visit, GLH was filling 1-qt high-density polyethylene bottles of a moderately viscous liquid wallpaper cleaner for Jomaps, an Alpharetta, GA, manufacturer that distributes its products to outlets such as Home Depot.

The filler, supplied by Riada Equipment (Winder, GA), only cost about $7길, but it is already a step up from the gravity-only filler, also from Riada, that GLH used when it opened its doors two years ago.

"The gravity filler served pretty well for most of the things we did except when we started getting into the viscous hand soaps and dish detergents that tend to carry a lot of [foamy] surfactants," says Vince Armistead, president. When volumes justified a second filler, GLH ordered the pressure filler. "Since we started using this one, I sent my gravity filler [back to Riada] and had them convert it over to pressure."

The main benefit of the pressure filler: It provides faster speeds for viscous or foamy products. An air-operated diaphragm pump pushes the product into the containers, which are filled six-up.

"This particular machine can handle some very thick hand soaps and other viscous products," says Armistead. Filling speeds tend to vary depending on the number of people that are setting up containers on the infeed and capping and removing them at the discharge side, both of which are manual functions. Armistead says typical speeds for aqueous products range from 10 to 12/min; 6 to 10/min for viscous products. By contrast, it took the gravity filler anywhere from two to two-and-a-half minutes to fill six bottles with viscous product. Armistead admits the speed was about the same on the gravity filler for aqueous products.

"This machine has six filling nozzles. You can usually get about two cycles [in a minute] with a water-thin product. If you had more people moving bottles in and out of place, you could probably get an additional cycle per minute out of it," Armistead says.

Easy to operate

The filler is simple to operate, says Armistead, with only a pair of switches. The operator positions six empty containers beneath the six filling nozzles and then presses one switch. That lowers the pneumatically operated filling nozzles into the containers.

To activate the filling pump, the operator simply presses the second switch. As product enters the bottle through the inside of the filling nozzle, air, and eventually overflow product, is forced back out through product overflow vents on the outside of the nozzle and through a return hose. (The nozzles seal off the containers, preventing product from spilling out.)

At the sight of excess product going back into the return hoses, the operator turns off the filling pump switch and activates the first switch, which pneumatically lifts the filling nozzles. Bottles are manually capped.

Armistead points out that the excess product drains back into the filling reservoir. The reservoir is fed by a hose that supplies product from a 55-gal drum. Previously, the excess product drained into a separate container that had to be re-emptied periodically back into the reservoir.

Armistead is pleased with the filler's output, flexibility and ease of operation. "This is a very inexpensive way to get into packaging," says Armistead. "Riada has done an excellent job."

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