VKPAK manufactures a range of standard liquid filling machines to suit a wide variety of liquids, bottle sizes and production outputs. Product characteristics determine the bottle filling machine needed for your products. The goal is to deliver a precise amount of product to the consumer in an attractive bottle that promotes your offering over the competition.
There are several filler technologies available, and each one works best for a specific range of liquids. An overflow filler is a great choice for foamy industrial cleaners but should not be used for viscous creams. A piston filler can work great for salsa but not so well for perfume.
VKPAK manufactures a variety of liquid filling machines such as inline filling systems. Such systems are capable of filling almost any product into an assortment of bottle types. VKPAK Inline filling systems use the latest technologies to achieve the highest speeds and most accurately filled bottles in the packaging industry. Everyone in the industry appreciates as VKPAK liquid filling systems can accommodate free-flowing liquid or thick products.
If you cannot find a suitable machine in our standard range, please contact us to discuss your individual requirements – our engineering team is on hand to discuss modifications or even bespoke machine design solutions.
How to choose a liquid filling machine? 7 Things You Must Know!
All you want to do is buy the right liquid filling system. But no, nothing can be easy or straightforward nowadays… can it? So whatever industry you’re coming from, we know there are a lot of things to consider when trying to find the best solution for your needs. While there’s no one size fits all solution, we’ve summarized the seven key factors you should consider to help you determine what type of machine best meets your needs.
1. What type of liquid product do you have?
Sounds simple enough… what type of liquid product do you have?
Being able to clearly describe your liquid product as very viscous, semi-viscous, or a very fluid, water-like product, will go a long way in helping to match your production needs with the best solution.
What is its viscosity – the measurement of a fluid’s internal resistance to flow? A substance like molasses will be more resistant to movement than water. As a result, the filling machine you purchase should be able to meet the increased demand of a high viscosity liquid. To get an idea of the viscosity of your liquid, check out our handy Viscosity Table.
Does your product contain particulates? Is it semi-solid? In these instances, a piston or pump filler may be most suitable for the job.
2. What type of containers are you filling?
When dealing with liquid filling applications, what you put your liquid product into is just as important as the product itself.
There is a world of different bottle shapes, sizes, and types of associated caps as it relates to closing/capping requirements. You can muddy the waters even more, if you will, should your container require a fill stopper crimp cap, fill cap, press on cap, twist on, spray bottles, or even an atomizer spray – all completely doable, but certainly needs planning ahead and constant dialogue amongst the project team members. Liquid packaging can have a vast array of possible and creative solutions, but also pitfalls, if unaware. VKPAK will welcome the chance to review your container and make suggestions for you.
Another part of the container aspect is understanding any labeling requirements. How difficult or easy is it to label your container’s surface? Also, what type of labeling solution do you want – a fully-automated, integrated labeler, or a standalone system? You can certainly incorporate whichever solution you prefer, but uncovering these needs ahead of time will ultimately save you time and money as you complete your project. If you’re seeing a theme, you are clearly ahead of the game… constant communication and planning ahead will always serve you well.
3. What is your desired fill rate?
One of the more important things to consider when choosing your liquid filling machine is your fill rate. How much do you want to fill per minute, per hour, per day and overall per month? Is faster better? Well, it depends. A business with a very high production rate will likely benefit from the most efficient machines. A smaller business may trade off some speed for savings in cost and space.
This is an important area of determination since it will also help in identifying the right level of automation for your needs. That is, filling a 5-gallon container vs a precision vial fill application is probably going to require a different type of filling solution. These types of details will also help with determining your setup options as it relates to your metering system, aka liquid filling pumps.
One caution: take care to not overlook your future production needs when purchasing your filling machine. It is easier to buy with future growth in mind than to try to upgrade your equipment after the fact.
4. What level of automation do you want?
If you’ve already answered your previous question, “What is your desired fill rate?”, you’ve already taken a big step in determining what level of automation is best for your application.
Manual filling machines are meant to handle low production rates, and they are an affordable and space-efficient option for hobbyists or very small companies that do not plan on expanding.
Semi-automatic filling machines can produce bottles at a much faster rate than manual filling machines, but they still require some manual operation. These machines will not reach quite the same speed of fully-automated filling machines. However, their mid-range price often makes them the best choice for small and medium-sized businesses that do not yet need the largest systems, but still have plans to grow.
Automatic filling machines are the powerhouses of production, perfect for large-scale companies with high production rates. These machines pull bottles from bulk storage using conveyors. They require the most floor space, and their purchasing and maintenance costs are higher than for manual or semi-automatic filling machines. However, they function with either no or very little manual operation.
For example, if you are filling about 5,000 bottles a day, or roughly 10-12 containers per minute. Whether a single or dual nozzle, a semi-automatic Benchtop filling machine could be an excellent solution for your needs – an affordable, quality and workhorse solution.
Now let’s say your production requirements have you filling about 25,000 bottles per day, or roughly 50-52 containers per minute. Here, you may want to increase your production throughput by considering a slightly higher level of automation with an intermediate inline filling system, or even a higher output scenario with a larger Monobloc design. Of course, as you increase your levels of automaton, there are certain costs associated with those greater mechanical and electrical elements.
5. Do you need to fill by level or by volume?
A very important decision you need to make is whether a liquid-level filler or a volumetric filling machine is best for your operations. To make this choice, you need to consider two things. What type of liquid you are using and how you want the packaged bottles to appear.
These fillers fill each bottle to the same specified level, even if the actual volume of liquid varies from bottle to bottle. This method of filling is more efficient and costs less. In addition, it gives all the bottles a uniform, cosmetically-pleasing appearance, which is very appealing to consumers. Liquid level filling machines typically use pressure-overflow fillers, which have a very fast fill rate and can handle a wide range of viscosities. Any leftover product in the filling tubes gets pushed back into the tank, preventing overflow and spillage.
Volumetric filling machines
These machines deliver a precise volume of liquid into each bottle, even when variations in the shape or volume of the bottles may cause the liquids to appear to be at different levels. These types of fillers cost more to operate due to the special instruments they require for timing, calibration and balance. The extra expense is worth it when the liquid needs to be packaged in precise dosages, or when minimizing waste is critical.
Volumetric filling machines are available in three varieties: Gravity fillers which are more cost-effective, and work best with low-viscosity or frothy liquids. The liquid is stored above the bottles as they are filled, allowing gravity to assist in the process. Piston fillers work well with either low-viscosity liquids (check-valve piston fillers) or very thick products (rotary-valve piston fillers). They operate by pumping product from one part of the machine to another in very precise amounts. Finally, pump fillers – while suitable for any viscosity – are especially designed for very thick products that need some extra force to move through the machine.
6. What is your available floor space?
Often overlooked until the later moments, another important aspect to consider when choosing a liquid filling system is your available floor space. You must accurately know your available clean room, laboratory or facility floor space. A bad scenario… you purchase an expensive production line that does not fit into your clean room or overall floor space – not good.
When determining your floor space, or the required footprint of your liquid filling machine, be sure to also factor in your human element as well. That is, your operators as well as any necessary space for inventory and supplies.
7. Service and Support: How much customization and support do you need?
Comparing photos of equipment on manufacturers websites can sometimes give you a hint as to their commitment to using quality components. However, it’s most often what you don’t see that distinguishes one manufacturer from another: their commitment to service.
Liquid filling machines are precision pieces of equipment that often represent a significant investment. The best way to maximize that investment is to select a manufacturer who will partner with you to ask pertinent questions, identify your objectives, and design a solution that will consistently exceed your expectations.
Finally, never overlook how responsive they are to your inquiries and whether they provide a friendly and professional customer experience. Often, their commitment to the customer experience is closely correlated to their commitment to manufacturing quality equipment that will guarantee your operations are highly productive for years to come.
Of course, there are many other details to consider when looking for the right liquid filling solution for your needs. Just to name a few, lead times, available budgets, as well as specific industry requirements like fill accuracies may also help determine what type of liquid filling solution is right for you. For more information on liquid filling, capping and labeling solutions, please email [email protected].