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Filling Bottles

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A wide range of liquid foods, beverages, and other products require glass or plastic bottles for packaging and storage. Some of the many bottled products available include everything from juices, water, and alcoholic beverages to dairy products, sauces, oils, and condiments. Additionally, cleaners and other chemicals require bottle filling processes. With such products in consistently high demand today, manufacturers need to be able to keep up with efficient bottle filling systems.

Here we’ll provide an in-depth overview of what bottle filling entails and how it works, along with the capabilities of today’s bottle filling systems.

What Is Bottle Filling?

Bottle filling entails pouring liquid products into bottles of different shapes and sizes prior to completing the liquid packaging process. Specialized equipment helps fill these products based on the specific volume and efficiency requirements for a particular application. As a result, production lines for liquid products can remain consistently productive and profitable.

Depending on the application, fully automated, semi-automated, or manual bottle filling equipment will complete the filling process.

What Types of Bottles Can Go Through the Filling Process?

Generally, there are two main types of bottles that products use, including glass and plastic bottles. When selecting the right bottling material, there are certain aspects to consider.

Glass Bottles

Glass is the most popular bottling option due to its ability to maintain the healthiness and taste of liquid products while helping contribute to a healthier environment through its eco-friendly material. Unlike plastic, glass is entirely recyclable and doesn’t experience any degradation of quality during the recycling process.

Also, unlike plastic, glass is impermeable and nonporous, which prevents any potentially harmful exchange between products and their packaging that might otherwise impact product quality.

With the increased need for more sustainable products and practices, glass bottles have become more favorable than ever for manufacturers and consumers alike.

Plastic Bottles

The versatility of plastic still makes it one of the most commonly used materials in bottle filling applications and many others. Plastic materials offer plenty of flexibility of designs, with great printability and barrier properties. Plastic bottles, in particular, are extremely commonplace and package a wide variety of liquid products.

While glass may offer a higher overall level of sustainability, innovations in plastic packaging have made these materials more environmentally friendly. One specific type of plastic is largely behind the increased sustainability of plastic packaging: polyethylene terephthalate (PET). Compared to other plastic materials, PET is safer and non-toxic while offering superior strength, flexibility, and lightweight construction. It’s also entirely recyclable and microwave-safe.

The majority of products using PET bottles are bottled water brands, which comprise over a third of consumption across the globe. In addition, other products to use PET bottles include soft drinks, fruit juices, beer, and liquid foods.

How Do Bottle Fillers Work?

Bottle filling machines are at the center of every bottle filling system. They’re responsible for filling bottles of all types as they travel along the production line.

Multiple factors will go into selecting the right type of bottle filler for an application, such as:

  • Liquid Viscosity — This is the thickness of liquids, which can be anywhere from water-thin to highly viscous, with different levels in between.
  • Fill Volume — The fill volume will also dictate which filler to use. This factor depends on aspects such as fill rates and viscosity, along with industry requirements.
  • Fill Rate — This is the rate at which machinery fills bottles, whether you need a certain number of bottles filled per minute, hour, or production cycle.

Depending on the type of bottle and product filled, along with other requirements, there are several main types of bottle fillers available, including:

Overflow Fillers

Overflow fillers enable bottle filling systems to consistently fill bottles to a specific level. These fillers work well with thinner liquids, including water and other beverages, but they’re less compatible with thicker products. Additionally, the accuracy of the fill by volume is based on the bottle’s interior volume.

Gravity Fillers

These are time-based fillers that fill bottles according to volume requirements. The nozzles on gravity fillers are adjustable to stay open for a set amount of time, which enables them to release a designated product volume into each bottle. Like overflow fillers, the fill levels of gravity fillers depend on the interior volume of the bottles filled. These fillers are ideal for use with thin, foamy liquids.

Piston Fillers

Another type of bottle filler that production lines may use is a piston filler. This machinery facilitates fast and accurate fill rates, and they’re highly versatile with the ability to handle a wide variety of products. They often fill thicker liquids including sauces, pastes, batters, fillings, and icing into various containers, including bottles.

Pump Fillers

Pump fillers work well with many types of liquid products. They feature superior accuracy and versatility and can fill liquids of varying thicknesses. These fillers use many types of pumps, including gear pumps, lobe pumps, cavity pumps, rotor pumps, and others to meet the needs of each application. Additionally, different types of fittings and valves are available.

What Is a Bottle Filling Line?

A bottle filling line is a production line that consists of multiple types of bottle filling equipment, including bottle fillers along with a system of conveyors and other machinery. In addition to bottle fillers, other equipment included in bottle filling lines could include:

  • Conveying equipment that transports products from one end to the other
  • Bottle washers and cleaners to remove any debris or contaminants in containers prior to filling
  • Capping machines that seal bottles, along with cap sorters and cap elevators or other accessory machines
  • Bottle labelers to apply paper, mylar, or other labels to bottles before packaging

Together, these and other machines complete a bottle filling line.

How Many Bottles Can Be Filled in a Given Period?

When setting up a bottle filling line, it’s important to determine how many bottles equipment can fill per minute, hour, day, or week. The fill rate for liquid products will depend on a variety of factors such as product viscosity and the size of the bottle. You can accurately determine whether a filling machine is right for your production line based on the length of each fill cycle and the number of bottles per minute the machine can fill.

One of the most important factors that will determine the fill rate is the size of the bottle. Smaller bottles naturally fill faster than larger containers, requiring less time to produce a higher volume of bottles in a production cycle.

You also need to consider the thickness of the liquids being filled. Water and other liquids with a low viscosity level require less effort to fill and flow more freely. Meanwhile, highly viscous liquids will require more pressure and time to fill.

Also, keep in mind that the type of equipment you select will affect how fast you can fill liquids into bottles and other containers. Semi-automatic machinery relies on the efficiency of the operator handling them, while automatic systems need all components and pieces of equipment to run at a consistent speed.

Some additional factors that may influence the fill rate include:

  • Setup times
  • Cleanup times
  • The volume of products the system needs to fill every cycle
  • Machine accessories such as drip trays that help automate various processes

Find the Bottle Filling Equipment You Need for Your Production Lines

When setting up a bottle filling system, it’s important to find the right equipment to meet the needs of a particular application. With so many options available, including gravity fillers and pump fillers along with manual, semi-automatic, and automatic equipment, you need to narrow down your selection based on your specific product and packaging requirements. The viscosity of your products, the volume of containers, and the efficiency you need to meet your quota will all influence your choice of bottle fillers and other filling line equipment.

With the right equipment, you can put together a reliable, efficient, and accurate bottle filling system for your application.

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