Filling system FAQ
1) What is a liquid filling machine?
The term filling machine covers many applications and types of equipment, but usually refers to automatic or semi-automatic equipment that accurately dispenses a pre-set volume (or weight) of product into a container. The product can be almost any liquid or media across a wide viscosity range, for example; acids, alkalis, solvents, alcohols, disinfectants, petroleum products, pharmaceuticals or foodstuffs. Even products like tomato paste and petroleum jelly can be accurately dispensed.
Liquid filling machines range from simple manual filling machines with a single point of dispense, through to fully automated multi-head machines which are typically volumetric piston or vacuum level designs. Multi-head designs can fill multiple containers at once, sometimes using an automated conveyor to move the containers along a filling line to speed up the process. They can also be combined with capping and labelling functions for a truly integrated filling operation.
There are also semi-automatic single-head and multi-head designs. Smaller designs can be bench mounted, sometimes with a hopper containing the media positioned above the point of dispense. The material is then metered under gravity. Other designs utilise a vacuum or pump to move the material to the filling head.
2) How does a liquid filling machine work?
Products are usually filled using gravity, vacuum or pressure, eg. by utilising pumps.
Gravity and vacuum systems would be used for low viscosity liquids and low flow rate applications, whereas vacuum or pressure dispensing is used for larger filling machines, higher viscosity fluids, or where faster filling rates are required.
Filling machines typically dispense by level, weight (using scales) or volume (using flowmeters). With semi-automatic and fully automatic systems, the operator will program the desired volume (or weight), press a button and then the containers are filled with the correct amount before the process is repeated.
3) How do I choose a liquid filling machine?
This depends upon several factors such as:
- Volume or weight to be filled
- Number of filling heads required
- Container size & type to be filled
- Container size & type to be emptied
- Desired accuracy
- Required speed
- Capping or labelling requirements
- Viscosity and density of the media
- Media transfer distance
- Applicable standards eg. FDA, EN1935 food approvals, ATEX
- Simplicity and serviceability
4) What types of pumps are used?
Flux filling systems use either centrifugal pumps, for low viscosity fluids, progressive cavity pumps (or air operated diaphragm pumps), for high viscosity fluids and pasty media. We can supply pumps and flowmeters for almost every drum or IBC dispensing application.
Alternative filling systems utilise gear pumps, peristaltic pumps or lobe pumps depending on the application. Variables to consider include accuracy required, flow rate, viscosity, pressure requirements and whether specific standards must be met, eg. for the food or pharmaceutical industry.
5) How much does a filling machine cost?
Costs vary widely depending on the level of automation required, the number of filling heads, accuracy needed etc. Multi-head automatic machines with labelling and capping functions could cost over £100K, whereas a typical Flux single-head system for a drum or IBC application would be approximately £2,500 to £10,000.
The cost varies depending on the application and the materials of construction. It is important to look at each filling system individually to ensure variables such as transfer distance, flow rate, pressure and hydraulic conditions have been considered and customer specific requirements are met. A site visit is recommended to review functionality and system layout in detail. Plus we can demonstrate the functionality of our Fluxtronic batch controller using our mobile demo system.