The Fogg (Holland, MI) 78-valve pressure-gravity filler reduces product giveaway by reducing spillage. Previously, the firm had to tolerate a small amount of spillage due to bottles passing through sharp turns at the starwheels that transfer bottles onto and off its other fillers.
On the 78-valve Fogg filler, the bottle transfer points are engineered to greatly minimize spillage. Like a conventional rotary filler, bottles pass through an entry starwheel, are carried around the filler, and exit through a discharge star. But unlike a conventional filler, there are no bottle "platforms" that convey the bottles; nor do the starwheels do the conveying. Instead, a single serpentine conveyor carries the bottles through the starwheels, around the filler turret, and through the discharge, literally carrying the bottles throughout the entire bottling process. (The starwheels remain for bottle stability and spacing.)
"It stays on the same chain from start to finish, and we don't have that loss during transfer," says Frank Hyatt, maintenance supervisor. Current filling speeds are about 725 bottles/min.
"Fill accuracy is excellent," adds Don Hamlett, maintenance manager. "We fill at 16.05 ounces, basically around 100 percent of the time."
Another benefit of the Fogg unit--apart from its PC control (see Packaging World, June '99, p. 58 or packworld.com/go/pc)--is its quick-disconnect change parts. Although Beverage Capital currently fills just one bottle size on the filler, it estimates that a size changeover would take two mechanics about 15 to 20 minutes. That compares to two hours on its other fillers. All parts remove easily and quickly with quick disconnects and twist knobs.
These parts also benefit Beverage Capital in routine cleaning. "in about five minutes you can take off the two starwheels, center guide and infeed screw," says Hamlett. Except for one wrench to align the starwheels, no other tools are required.
"Before, we would have to dedicate a certain amount of the mechanic's time to handle such maintenance. And now we don't have to allot time for it anymore. It's now part of our start-up procedure performed by the operator." (DN)