Hello and welcome to Package This — your guide to packaging machinery and materials. This episode’s focus is on liquid filling equipment, the machines that fill up your favorite beverages, foods, and liquids, both edible and non-edible. So, without further ado, let’s get into the video. We hope you’ll find it fulfilling!
Determining the right liquid filler will largely depend on the viscosity of your product but will also depend on if your product requires hot, cold or aseptic filling. Other considerations will include how fast you need to fill and what types of containers you are using.
First off, we have piston fillers, like this one from Syntegon. These machines use a piston, a cylinder within a tube that moves up and down to draw liquid from the hopper or tank, which is then pushed through a nozzle to fill the container. Piston fillers get the prize for versatility in liquid filling. They can handle highly viscous foods such as chunky sauces, glue, and cosmetics, as well as for water-thin liquids and juices, making them a great investment for emerging brands.
The Osgood LFS is Syntegon’s new linear filling system that package foods including liquids, viscous liquids, and chunky solids in preformed cups and tubs using piston filling technology. It is built on a modular platform design that contains one or two filling functions such as cup de-stacking, sterilization, filling, lidding, capping, and weight checking. Its modular design makes it easy to ship, upgrade, and add modules as needs change. This clean machine is designed to meet the strictest hygiene standards and is available in Clean and Ultra-Clean models. The LFS has numerous safety features that make it the choice for yogurt, sour cream, cottage cheese, deli foods, dips and sauces, and pet foods. The LFS also features an open design with full height guarding for easy maintenance as well as modular components that slide out for easy, fast changeovers. The machine even has an auto-load supply feature so cups can be reloaded while it is in operation.
Our next liquid filling technology really knows how to “go with the flow.” Flow meter fillers, like this one, dispense product from an elevated storage tank at a consistent rate. The product is measured by a flow meter and the valve is opened or closed to maintain the desired flow rate. This type of filler is well-suited for products that have a predictable flow rate, such as water or oil.
Here we see a flow meter filling system from DTM Packaging, a Massman Company. Their Purefil product line of liquid fillers is designed to provide highly precise product dosing utilizing Mag or Mass flow meters. The machine is simple to operate and designed for fast changeovers. Its clean, hygienic design includes a built-in flush in place system. DTM can supply Purefil flow meter fillers as a standalone machine or as part of a complete bottling line.
Sir Isaac Newton would be proud of our next liquid filler category because these machines use the simplest of principles to fill containers with liquid: the force of gravity. Gravity fillers use a time-based, fill-by-volume approach to filling, with containers positioned below an overhead chamber filled with liquid. They are a good choice for water-thin or low viscosity liquids, such as soda and water. If you are looking for a simple, accurate, and cost-effective way to fill containers with liquid, a gravity filler is a good option.
Net Weight Fillers
If precision is your top priority, then let this next category of liquid fillers weigh in. These machines employ load cells – a unit that converts force or weight into an electrical signal – that are placed directly beneath each filling station. The machine then doses (or dispenses) liquid products by its weight. This ensures that each container is filled with the exact amount of liquid, regardless of the product's viscosity. Net weight fillers are a good option for products that need to be filled to a precise weight, such as pharmaceuticals or cosmetics. They are also used for products that require a consistent dosage, like food supplements or vitamins.
If you have a thick or foamy product like shampoo, then the pressure is on to find the right filler. Luckily, you’re watching this video. Pressure fillers use displacement pumps, which are pumps that move a fixed volume of product through the machine on a repeated cycle, to create pressure in the liquid, thereby forcing it into the container. The amount of pressure and the speed of the pump can be adjusted to control the amount of liquid that is dispensed. Pressure fillers are a versatile option for filling a variety of containers, including bottles, jars, and tubes. They are also relatively fast and accurate, making them a good choice for applications with high-volume production.
Vacuum fillers are liquid packaging machines that use a rotary valve pump to create a vacuum that sucks product down into a chamber above the container. This type of filler is typically used for medium viscosity products such as jelly, sauces, and gravy. Vacuum fillers are also used to fill free-flowing, caustic, and foamy non-foods such as cosmetic products like perfumes, nail polish and colognes into glass and other containers. These highly specialized machines are known for their ability to handle liquids that would be difficult to fill with other types of fillers as well as for their versatility and accuracy.
Aerosol & Specialty Fillers
If you've ever enjoyed whipped cream or cheese from a can, or used pump spray insect repellent, you can thank liquid filling technologies. Aerosol filling machines are specialty liquid fillers that use compressed gas that later permits controlled dispensing of the liquid as a fine mist, as seen in hairspray or deodorant. These machines can handle flammable and volatile products and require a shaker-gasser for a complete aerosol package. Liquid fillers for pump spray bottles sometimes come as systems that can fill the liquid, apply the spray cap, and label the container all on the same unit.
There are many considerations – viscosity of product, fill rates, containers you’re working with, and more – that will factor into your decision to purchase a liquid filler. We hope that you found this overview useful and informative as a first step in your search.
For more videos on packaging machinery and materials, please subscribe to our full Package This series on YouTube. And for a deeper dive into liquid fillers and related equipment, explore PMMI ProSource, a searchable directory with 1,000 packaging and processing suppliers. Visit ProSource.org to search suppliers by package type, material, or features. Thanks for watching!