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Full Service Fill Up

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

page 4 of 6

Other capabilities such as the ability to weigh each bottle to ensure proper fill weights have benefits beyond controlling costs—it ensures that label claims are met and in compliance with regulatory organizations. Furthermore, vision systems are capable of orienting custom caps on bottles, and servo driven motors allow each capper head to function independently, depending on the package requirement. This allows marketers to develop more unique packaging while maintaining a line that is manufacturable at high speed (up to 300 bottles per minute) and, therefore, low cost.

By working closely with filling equipment manufacturers, custom solutions can be found for unique marketing propositions—found in either the packaging or the product itself. “For the major cosmetic companies with large production requirements, one trend [in customization requests] we’ve seen is an increased use of servo drives in general” said Erdner. “Servo drives provide the capability and advantage of changing filling parameters per product.”

Surefil cites compounding of specialized formulas and filling into new and unique packages as a crux for custom solutions, and faces filling more than 120 distinct SKUs in custom packaging—a trend that is not likely to abate as marketers look for points of differentiation. Accutek notes that almost all of its machines ship with some form of customization to suit the customer’s requirements.

“Packages and labels will continue to evolve. Labels will continue to be different sizes and shapes, as will the bottles and caps. This continuous stimulation is required by the marketing companies so they can stimulate the consumers to buy,” said Bill Hunt, CEO, Surefil. “New bottles will, at the same time, need to be made with reduced costs. This means lighter weight bottles, more unstable shapes and unique caps. Contractors will have to make big dollar investments in servo driven rotary labelers, servo driven cappers, high precision fillers and vision system to bring it all together. With high-speed operations, the contractors will also have to make big investments in controls to make it all work together. This means integrating lines with Ethernet capability to allow all machines in a given line to talk to each other.”

“Customers’ business practices are changing and evolving,” said Bertolucci. “Customers are increasingly fitting into tighter spaces to accomplish the same amount of work output that was done in larger spaces just a few years ago. This philosophy of doing more with less overhead is becoming a common business practice. With this philosophy, customers are packaging more of a variety of products in smaller batch runs to accomplish just in time delivery with fewer pieces of machinery, so they do not have to maintain large on-hand inventories.”

Designing a Filling Line