Today's consumers have a massive appetite for drinks of all kinds, with UK sales of soft drinks running at £4.2 billion, and alcohol off trade sales at £13 billion. There's also demand for more choice in juices, water, carbonates and energy drinks as well as in beers, spirits, wine and RTDs. In addition, we now see a greater than ever choice of bottle sizes. With so much activity in the market, it's never been more important to have a clear view of bottle filling machine developments and options.
Improvements in efficiency, speed and automatic bottle filling need to be considered to increase capacity for high volume operations. At the same time it's vital to be aware of the advantages of flexibility to handle the ever-changing demand market, especially for lower volume craft and premium drinks, as well as changing demands for more sustainable material including lighter weight glass and fully recyclable PET bottles.
However, the fundamental objectives of bottle filling machines and beverage packaging remain the same: accuracy of bottling, minimal product wastage, sanitary delivery methods, and a simple, appealing end-user experience.
Register free for the PPMA Total Show 2019, and when you visit you will find a huge variety of liquid packaging machines on display and be able to follow the latest developments in the industry.
BOTTLE FILLING MACHINES FOR DIFFERENT TYPES OF LIQUIDS
The type of liquid being bottled affects the type of machine required; product characteristics like filling temperature, particulates, tendency of the product to splash or froth etc are all principal factors in determining the correct delivery method and filling machine required.
Free-flowing liquids work best with timed-flow fill machines where the same volume of product is delivered each cycle, whereas more viscous, creamy liquids require a positive displacement liquid filler. Certain oily products are also susceptible to separation when moved through a rotary motion, necessitating a special dosing process.
BOTTLE FILLING FOR CARBONATED DRINKS
Carbonated liquids require special treatment during the bottling process, due to a tendency to foam up which can potentially lead to a lot of expensive waste. When bottling beer, there is also a requirement to limit the quantity of air the product picks up. This can be avoided by incorporating a valve with a swirl at the bottling point. A swirl gently guides the liquid onto the bottle wall, reducing turbulence in the bottle and limiting foaming.
VARIATIONS IN SIZE IN LIQUID BOTTLE FILLING TECHNOLOGY
With consumer demand driving an ever greater diversity of products, not just in terms of variety but also size and quantity, filling machines need to adapt to the variety of bottles being produced. Larger containers require larger valves, longer filling cycles and increased pitch between valve centres. But despite varying container sizes, the neck diameter of bottles remains constant, meaning neck gripper tools can remain unchanged and always meet the changing market needs.
MANUAL, SEMI-AUTOMATIC AND FULLY AUTOMATIC filling machines
Liquid filling machines come in all different shapes and sizes to meet the various needs of different enterprises. Whether that’s a simple single-head manually operated machine for an SME, or a semi-automated or even a fully automated system with multiple filling heads for a large multinational.
MANUAL FILLING MACHINES
These hand-operated machines don’t require a power source, making them ideal for small-scale enterprises or even laboratories. Although only really suited to free-flowing liquids and medium viscosity creams and gels, they greatly increase accuracy and also pouring speed compared to hand pouring, and you can expect to reach speeds of roughly 15 cycles per minute.
These products offer customers a sturdy, bench-top machine, for use by a single operator who places a container beneath the filling nozzle and manually pulls the operating lever to dispense the liquid.
SEMI-AUTOMATIC FILLING MACHINES
For larger, more demanding operations, there are also semi-automatic filling machines, which are ideal for small to medium production lines. These products greatly increase accuracy of delivery and rapid changeovers, improving the flow of the production chain.
Powered by compressed air and featuring just one filling head, these filling machines are well suited to filling liquids, creams and gels. Often with a dispensing volume ranging from 5 to 1,500 ml, they are able to fill approximately 30 bottles per minute.
Larger machines use a pneumatically operated rotary valve and diving nozzle. This allows them to handle a wider range of liquids, including free-flowing chemicals and also viscous liquids like paints and adhesives.
Vacufill machines, on the other hand, are particularly well suited for bottling liquids like wines and spirits, or even perfumes into rigid bottles. Vacuum induced filling ensures precisely the same quantity of liquid is placed inside each bottle every time. This is particularly useful when bottles are on display for customers and the levels will be scrutinised.
AUTOMATIC BOTTLE FILLING MACHINES
Perfectly suited for a wide range of container shapes and sizes, automatic filling machines provide the flexibility to be used with almost any liquid, and can work with a wide range of containers sizes.
Fully automatic filling machines deliver high precision filling at a much faster rate. A programmable memory allows for the storage of packaging settings, which can then be recalled and repeated when products change over. This allows for the machine to quickly adapt to new and redesigned products.
FOLLOW THE LATEST DEVELOPMENTS IN BOTTLE FILLING TECHNOLOGY
To catch up with all that's happening in bottle filling machines and beverage packaging, make sure you visit the PPMA Total Show 2019. You'll meet a wide range of exhibitors with a selection of bottle filling machines and much more. See who is exhibiting here.