Krys Beal is a part of E-PAK Machinery's inside sales and marketing department. He has more than 19 years of experience in the manufacturing equipment industry with expertise in filling, capping and bottling equipment.
Liquid foods with particles require specific types of packaging equipment to successfully complete the process. There are many different types of products that can contain particles, particularly when it comes to liquid foods. Certain cheeses such as cottage cheese can contain chunks, salsa is also often chunky and other food items such as salad dressings will also contain flavorings, spices and food particulate.
There are two main types of liquid fillers that work with these thicker products and can successfully fill products containing various types of particles.
Piston filling machines can handle a variety of thick food products and liquids with particulates, and they are also highly accurate. Typically, piston fillers use three-way rotary valves, which contain a hollow section to effectively move liquid products from the hopper to the cylinder. Once the liquid is in the cylinder, the valve will rotate and the piston pushes the product through the machine’s nozzles and into certain containers or bottles.
The cylinder largely contributes to the piston filler’s accuracy. The unchanging interior volume of the cylinder as it goes through fill cycles results in a consistent volume of product during the filling process. This is what makes piston fillers ideal for volumetric fill applications that require a high level of accuracy on a consistent basis.
Piston fillers can also handle thinner products in addition to thicker foods with particles, which makes them a great choice for food companies that have various products that require filling using the same production line.
Pump filling machines are also capable of filling thick products and are ideal for use with thicker products containing small particles, such as salsa that has grit, along with products that have larger particulate. These fillers work by pumping product through a hose and nozzles to fill containers sitting below.
While these fillers are good for applications working with some thicker liquids, they aren’t the best for products with larger particulate. Particles that are too large will eventually clog pathways and cause inconsistent fill levels in pump fillers. Highly viscous liquids can cause the same problems. So, if your product is particularly thick or contains large particles, you’re better off working with a piston filler.
If you need to fill thinner products that have small particulate, overflow fillers will be able to handle these products. The overflow filler works by releasing products into bottles using a specialized nozzle that keeps the container’s opening sealed. Once the product gets to a certain level, it overflows through the nozzle’s return port and goes back into the supply tank. This allows for consistent fill levels regardless of varying interior volumes in bottles.
While products with smaller particles are compatible with overflow fillers, larger particles can block the nozzle openings, resulting in inaccurate and inconsistent fills and potentially damaging the nozzles.
Choose the right machine for your application
With these three machines available, you can find the ideal filler based on your specific packaging needs. Whether you need overflow fillers for products with small particles or piston fillers for products with larger particulate, there’s a machine that can handle the process. With the right packaging machine manufacturer, you can further customize this equipment based on your application’s requirements to maximize efficiency and profitability.