Which filling equipment equipment do you need?
When packing paste-like products such as butter, spreads or margarine you need flexib…
Liners for powder handling across industries must prevent contamination of materials to co…
Active pharmaceutical ingredients demand high handling standards to prevent cross-contamination. Moreo…
Aseptic filling of containers such as vials, syringes, bottles, and cartrid…
Pharmaceutical and chemical products may be toxic or prone to contamination from environmental exposure. W…
Increasing consumer demand forces production lines, especially packaging, to inve…
Small and medium-sized manufacturers with manual filling processes often have to deal with inaccurate fi…
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Manufacturers who have separate filling and capping stations may experience lower throughput rates…
When filling ampoules is essential to avoid wetting the inside walls of the container, as it may affect …
Vials are difficult to fill individually through manual methods due t…
Filling containers manually with liquid and viscous products is the method…
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What are you making?
Based on product characteristics such as viscosity or its physical state – liquid or powder – and the technology they use, filling equipment can be categorized as rotary fillers, volumetric fillers, aseptic fillers, piston filling machines, net weight fillers, free-flowing or non-free-flowing and vibratory weigh filling machines.
Okay, that’s a long list, but no worries. Let’s try to take our time to understand the differences between them and which filling machine works best with which product.
Liquid filling – Choose your liquid fillers depending on the product viscosity
Liquid filling machines, also known as flow filling machines, are used extensively in the beverage industry for products such as mineral water, fruit juice, alcoholic beverages, and soft drinks. On the other hand, volumetric fillers, divided into gravity, pump, and piston fillers, are more suitable for packaging viscous substances. The significant difference between the two is that volumetric machines fill containers with the same product volume regardless of container size. In contrast, liquid fillers always fill containers to the same level, irrespective of volume.
What should you pay attention to when bottling your liquid product?
Whether tea, soft drinks, wine, or beer, the first thing that jumps out at you when choosing a drink is always its container. How your favorite beverages are bottled will depend on the beverage formulation and the nature of the liquid itself. During the bottling process, you need to transfer your product to the previously inspected bottle before capping it. Depending on your production scale and operation, you can adopt in-line or rotary fillers.
Inline liquid filling machines fill containers with both low- and high-viscosity substances. Rotary liquid filling machines are more complete consisting of several circular stations, each performing a different function, such as filling, sealing, and capping.
Powder filling – Powder characteristics to consider
It would be too easy if the powder always had the same characteristics, wouldn’t it?
When packaging powdered products such as pharmaceutical powder, protein powder, or milk powder, you need to consider the physical properties of the powder itself. A powder product can be considered free-flowing, non-free flowing, and semi-free flowing. For example, products like granulated sugar are defined as free flowing because their particles are not cohesive. Instead, powdered milk is a non-free flowing powder because it can be easily compressed and retain its shape after adding pressure. Instant coffee can be categorized as semi-free flowing powder.
Auger filling machines belong to the volumetric fillers and are pretty popular in the industry. They don’t weigh the powder, unlike the net weight filling machine, which is the only piece of powder filling equipment to weigh the powder before dispensing it into the container.
The auger filling machine is suitable for powders such as flour but can handle free-flowing powders and some non-free flowing powders. The vacuum powder filling machines are used for powders that do not require any further breakdown or agglomeration because they work without using an auger or agitator. These types of filling machines are not suitable for granules.
Bagging – not only for powders
Bagging is a packaging process that automatically inserts a measured amount of a product into a bag or a pouch. Powdered products such as coffee, cocoa powder, or baking powder undergo the bagging process. The choice of bagging equipment is critical since food products like coffee are pretty sensitive to air exposure.
Of course, the bag size varies depending on the product size and the production step. For example, semi-finished products such as nuts, seeds, or spices will be packed in flexible bulk containers for transportation and storage. Flexible intermediate bulk containers are used primarily in the chemical industry for fertilizers, dyes, or pigments.
Filling systems in the Pharma and Food industries
When it comes to pharmaceutical or food products, filling lines may require special precautions because these products are made specifically for human consumption and for being ingested. That’s why you will hear a lot about aseptic and sterile filling, especially in these two industries.
Aseptic vs. sterile – Is there any difference?
There has always been some confusion around these two terms. Both indicate techniques to create a sterile finished product, thus free of living microorganisms and as safe as possible. But although the two terms go hand in hand, they are different. After filling and sealing the container using sterile filling solutions, the product is subjected to a sterilization process using heat, radiation, or filtration. The product is sterilized in its final packaging.
Aseptic processing is reserved for products that cannot withstand heat exposure from the terminal sterilization process. It is a technique where the product, the container, and the container closure are first sterilized separately and then brought together. This method is meant to maintain the sterility of a product assembled from different sterile components. Since the product is not sterilized in its final container, it is essential that the filling and sealing take place in a highly controlled environment (aseptic filling).
Pharmaceutical filling for ensuring product safety and sterility
Vaccines or antibiotics are just two examples of drugs that cannot withstand heat sterilization, so they must be made through aseptic processing. When it comes to pharmaceutical filling, to ensure product safety and quality, aseptic fillers are widely used for filling and sealing drug containers such as vials, ampoules, and syringes. Aseptic filling is also used for parenterals since the entire process must be done in an aseptic environment to avoid contamination. The aseptic filling is very challenging since ensuring sterility is not easy, and failure can have dramatic consequences for the patients.
Aseptic filling in the food industry
Aseptic filling is a food preservation method that ensures shelf-stable products, extending the food product shelf file and optimizing product quality. The important factors in the aseptic filling process are obtaining and maintaining sterile environment conditions for the filling and sealing process. It is used when producing dairy products, fruit juices, or sauces.
Tube filling equipment for viscous liquids or pastes
The packaging of choice is usually a tube made of plastic or metal when producers have to pack viscous liquid or pastes. In the food industry, tube filling equipment is used for packaging food pastes, while in the cosmetic industry for products such as toothpaste, ointments, gels, and creams.
Tube fillers consist of a pump injecting the product into the tube. The machine then crimps the end of the tube to seal it before packing the products into boxes for shipping.