Naturally, when you think about filling containers with liquids, you may imagine someone at a factory pouring liquids from large drums into bottles. But, on many modern production lines, this task is often accomplished without human intervention.
In fact, it is generally more efficient to fill containers by pumping liquid into them than by manual filling methods. This article takes a closer look at how volumetric filling works for liquid packaging and explains how it can benefit a production line.
What is a volumetric filling machine?
A volumetric filler is a type of liquid filling machine that fills containers with liquids, which can be anything from pineapple juice to honey. Exactly how they work depends on the properties of the liquid and the type and size of the container being filled.
These innovative systems fill containers with a precise amount of product through a volume-based approach. This requires few manual adjustments or guesswork on behalf of the operator.
Volumetric fillers are perfect for products in containers with varying interior volumes because, regardless of shape discrepancies, the machines deliver a consistent volume.
This is in contrast to liquid-level filling machines which fill containers to a specific level and may give a slightly variable volume.
Types of volumetric filling machines
There are many different models of volumetric filling machines, and most fall into three broad categories:
- Pump filling machines
- Gravity fed systems
- Piston filling systems
While these machines fulfil much the same function, they have their own advantages and disadvantages and suit different types of products.
How do volumetric filling machines work?
Understanding the differences between the various types of volumetric filling machines will help you find the best option for your unique business needs. The type needed depends upon the product characteristics and the size, shape, and type of container.
Pump filling machines use a range of different pumps to move product from the tank or vat into the container. Gear or lobe pumps can draw the liquid through their moving parts by a process of positive displacement of the fluid. Pump filling works well for higher viscosity liquids and particulates, as the fluid doesn’t clog the moving parts as easily as some other forms of filling machines.
Peristaltic pumps use flexible tubes and rollers to completely isolate the moving parts of a pump from the product and are suited to sensitive liquids like pharmaceuticals or flavoured liquids, or highly corrosive or hazardous liquids. After each production run, the tubes can be easily replaced, allowing the system to remain completely sanitary for the next run.
Gravity Fed System
As the name suggests, gravity-fed systems use gravity to force liquid into the containers. They are fed by a bulk supply pumped into a holding tank above the filling head. The liquid flows out of valves, which are individually timed to release precise amounts.
Gravity fillers work best on thin viscosity liquids. and their bottom-up capabilities suit foaming products. They can handle a range of temperatures and fill containers much more quietly than the other types.
Piston filling machine
Piston fillers open a valve that allows the liquid product to flow from the hopper into the cylinder. Once the piston is full, it forces the liquid through nozzles into the container.
The piston filler suits a variety of liquids with different viscosities and densities, providing an accurate volumetric fill. It is particularly suited for thick liquids, creams, and products with large particles.
Advantages of volumetric filling systems
As you can imagine, volumetric filling machines have a range of advantages when compared to other liquid filling types and manual filling.
Volumetric filling machines cope with many different types of containers, including bottles, aluminium cans, PET bottles, glass jars, and tubes. This is important when companies are using ever-more-complex container designs for maximum visual impact.
Volumetric liquid filling machines are extremely efficient. They increase productivity and save on labour costs, especially vacuum-assisted machines. Some models even offer automatic labelling for additional speed.
Ease of Operation
Volumetric machines are easy to operate. For example, with a semi-automatic machine like the AV3-1C Single Cylinder Volumetric Liquid Filling Machine, simply place a container under the nozzle, set the desired volume, then press start. Automatic machines, like the AMF-4C Quad Cylinder Volumetric Liquid Filling Machine, are very intuitive to set up on production lines.
Volumetric filling machines maintain consistent quality control by monitoring the amount of product dispensed through each nozzle. In addition, they ensure that no air gets into your final product, eliminating the need for expensive vacuum sealers or filler cap systems.
Disadvantages of volumetric filling machines
Naturally, as with any production machine, there are also a number of disadvantages that businesses need to take into account when seeking to invest in the technology.
Volumetric filling machines can be expensive to buy, especially for small businesses, and a business will need to assess the costs and benefits.
Some companies, like Asset Packaging Machines, offer a rental service. This allows you to test the technology before you buy, and cope with temporary rises in demand.
While volumetric filling is essential for some products, it can leave different fill levels that are immediately apparent to customers. Accordingly, where this may cause problems, volumetric methods are best used with opaque containers.
What products do volumetric liquid machines fill?
Volumetric filling machines are able to fill a wide variety of containers, from yogurt cups to toothpaste tubes, and pharmaceutical vials to paint tins.
Some types of volumetric machines can handle heated or cooled liquids, while others are perfect for foaming products.
Volumetric liquid filling machines fill products with liquids quickly and accurately. They can package a range of liquids, including pharmaceuticals, food items like sauces or syrups, personal care products such as lotions and creams, beverages like coffee creamers, and much more.
If you want to know what volumetric liquid filling systems best suits you, contact Asset Packaging Machinery. We’ll be happy to help you find the right type of machine.