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Full Service Fill Up

By: Jeff Falk
Posted: August 26, 2008, from the September 2007 issue of GCI Magazine.

page 2 of 6

Increased and improved automation capabilities, versatility, speed and “smart functions” are being engineered into filling machines, and the engineering itself considers more aspects of the filling process—these machines do more than simply fill. Capabilities include the handling of a variety of products and packaging, control systems and automated CIP (clean-in-place) systems to ensure sanitary filling conditions.

“The most improved capability seen on filling machines today is the versatility of the machine to handle a wide variety of products,” said Dennis Bertolucci, senior industrial designer/sales, Simplex Filler Company, a liquid filling machine manufacturer. “This is mainly due to the fantastic improvements in programmable electronic controls and sensors that are available today at competitive costs. Companies today provide more products through ‘just in time’ delivery. This means smaller batches and packaging with more variety of products running through the same machine.”

According to Bertolucci, today’s liquid filling machines handle different products and containers with quicker changeover, less set up time and better repeatable accuracy. With improved versatility, a wide variety of products and packaging can be handled with a minimal outlay in capital cost. Further facilitating the drive toward versatility, effective machines today have to be designed with modularity and an array of plug-in accessories.

“Business owners that can do more variety in products and packaging with fewer pieces of equipment, and a smaller staff, will benefit in stability and value, in a competitive market place in an ever-changing economical climate,” said Bertolucci.

Surefil LLC, which provides custom filling solutions to the personal care and medical industries, has recently added three high-speed packaging lines—an additional 85 million units of capacity to the 40 million units previously running. The company saw the expansion as an opportunity to install state-of-the-art filling equipment with smart functions—among them, vision systems that ensure fill levels, CIP systems programmable with a set of procedures that follow, in sequence, opening valves, calling for cleaning and sanitizing chemicals, and providing water at high temperature to clean the equipment—without requiring disassembly.