Are you in the market for an automated or semi-automated bottling line? Are you starting up something to do in your spare time or going big in the industrial world? Well, don’t worry; I will guide you through the process of finding a bottling line that will suit you and your budget.
What would you like to fill?
As there is a wide variety of products that can be filled, a wide variety of machines can be used for a specific purpose of filling. So don’t be afraid to bottle more than one product.
What products do you want to bottle?
- Dry goods – Solids like powder or pills.
- Low viscosity – liquids like water and fizzy drinks.
- High viscosity – liquids like sauces and molasses.
Is your product carbonated?
Be it you are bottling fizzy drinks (soda), champagne (sparkling wine), or beer, all carbonated drinks requires a counter-pressure filler which will:
- Remove the air from the bottle.
- Pressurize the bottle with CO2.
- Repeat the process to remove 99.9% of the oxygen (double pre-evacuation).
- Fill the bottle with the carbonated product from the bottom of the bottle.
- In some cases, the carbonated beverage needs to be chilled before filling can commence to minimize foaming.
What type of bottle do you want to fill?
As there are many compounds that you can use to fill and many types of bottling container shapes and container materials that can be used.
Some machines can only bottle one type of container and destroy the other kind of container. For example, automated machines will grab the bottle from the top of the bottle container, and other machines will hold the bottle from the side of the bottle container.
If the bottle has a unique or awkward shape top, the top grabber might not be able to pick the bottle up. As well as, if the bottle is too wide, the side grabber might not be able to move the bottle.
Size is important; it is essential to us to know what size container you will use ounces, litres, or gallons. Other information that will be needed is shape, height, and diameter.
The opening method or type, are your customers going to open a small lid, big lid, or are they going to unscrew a cap on top of the bottle is an important question to consider.
If you are going to use aluminum cans for your product? If yes, that top will require a particular machine. So let’s close this chapter.
How many bottles are you going to fill? How fast do you need them?
The bottling/filler has multiple factors that can influence the speed. As speed equals production.
Bottling speed is often measured as BPH – bottles per hour. This usually applies to smaller machines and BPM – bottles per minute. This applies to the larger and faster machines. For this article, we will refer to and use the term BPM.
How much automation would you like?
A more manual machine is perfect for a small company or a brewing enthusiast, definitely an excellent investment. Still, it might not meet the demands of a large company or a growing company.
A semi-automatic machine will require more manpower to feed the machine with fillers. It will be less expensive than the fully automatic machines that also take up less space than their bigger brothers.
The automatic machines will take up more space, and they will need less manpower as the machine will pull the bottles by the bulk with a conveyor system. With this chart, you can determine what machine will be more appropriate for your business.
1 – 10 BPM
10 – 20 BPM
Manual or Semi-Automatic
Small or Medium Business
20 – 50 BPM
Semi-Automatic or Automatic
Medium or Large Business
50 BPM or Higher
Do you want a Liquid Level or a Volumetric Filling Machine?
Do you want your machine to fill the filler’s exact volume into the bottle? It can work out more costly due to multiple factors that you need to consider. First off, they are more expensive because they require more measuring instruments like timing, calibration, and balancing.
Depending on your filler, it can be more costly. If you fill the container with black gold (oil) or any other expensive product, it can work out more than a liquid-level machine. One once every 10 bottles will make a difference.
It will also be less appealing as the bottles look uneven and less appealing to the customers. The level of “fullness” will not look exactly the same.
Liquid Level Machines
The meaning is in the name itself as it fills all the bottles to a certain level. All the bottles will thus look full and more appealing to the customers. This method is the preferred choice for many companies that use it for cleaning products, breweries, wineries, and soft drink companies.
These machines achieve higher filling speeds of production and lower costs per machine. The machine will also save you that one ounce here and there that will make a difference. Sometimes tens of thousands of dollars.
Sadly the machines can’t be converted from a volumetric to a liquid level or vice versa.
Types of Filling Machines
Overflow filling machines
This is an ideal and popular machine that is definitely an excellent value for any business that wants to fill many bottles in a short amount of time.
The liquid will fill the bottle fast and fill it under pressure. The machine has multiple spouts/heads that inject the filler directly into the bottle. The machine will then catch the overflow spillage in a liquid form and in different forms like foam or bubbles, and it will send it back to the container (bulk source).
- These machines are built for production and speed.
- These machines also have multiple spouts/heads; thus, more bottles can be filled simultaneously.
- They are well known and of the most popular among beverage makers.
- These machines are limited to low viscosity liquids only.
Piston Filling Machines
Piston filling machines pump liquid from the container/bulk source to the bottle using a piston pump. The machine pumps with great accuracy and with some speed. There are two main types of piston machines: rotary valve pistons and check valve pistons.
Piston filling machines use pistons to pump liquid from one source to another with accuracy and speed. Piston fillers are divided into two methods: Check Valve Pistons and Rotary Valve Pistons.
Rotary valve piston machines better pump and fill chunkier and thicker material. This allows the material to be pumped without damaging it when the material moves through the valves.
This machine is most recognizable through the hoppers or large funnels that are used to pour the material into the large container.
Rotary Piston Filling machines are most notably recognized by the existence of a large funnel or Hopper used to pour the material into a large container.
Check Valve Piston fillers work best with low viscosity liquids. The machine will draw the liquid from the large container and pump the liquids more efficiently and accurately.
- Rotary Valve Pistons are better for transferring thicker and chunkier material. The valve allows for larger chunks to pass through the valves undamaged.
- These machines are more customizable as they are manual, semi-automatic, and automatic giving your budget more flexibility.
- Speeds – as these machines use pistons to pump the liquid as this process will reduce the speed, meaning less production, but they aren’t as slow as what you might think.
Pump Filling Machines
Pump filling machines are excellent bottling machines as they can pump various liquid viscosities. The pump filling machine can efficiently pump pastes, creams, and liquids right from the container into the desired bottle. Still, unfortunately, it is not so great with chunky material.
These fillers are very popular and common. They have a lot of components that can be fitted from one pump filling machine to another. The components that you easily refit are components like volume metric instruments, multiple heads, etc.
They also make small to large machines ranging from small tabletop pump fillers with a single head to large machines with 12 or more heads with a 10-foot incline conveyor belt system.
- Interchangeable parts – it is easy to upgrade and customize.
- Variety of sizes to fit your business needs.
- Various viscosities can be pumped
- The pump filling machine does not pump chunky material as good as liquids.
Gravity Filling Machines
Gravity Filling Machines can be the most cost-effective way of volumetric filing as there are fewer parts; thus, in the long run, also less maintenance. They can be modified and built to accommodate a large variety of bottled products like beverages, chemicals, and dangerous liquids that are hazardous and or flammable.
When your bottling process requires you to be precise with your product, this is definitely the way to go. This mainly applies to low viscosities.
There is also a large timed fill gravity machine that only requires you to re-calibrate and or rebalance the machine’s sensors once you change the filler content. You can run bulk amounts of bottling processes simultaneously as there are multiple heads that you can fit on the machine. Thus achieving equal and accurate outputs each time.
- Variety of size from a small and simple siphon filler machine to large timed fill gravity machines.
- The large variety of low viscosity of fluids can be bottled
- Re-calibration is needed when you switch the contents that you are filling.
Would you like an Inline or a Rotary Filling Machine?
What is an inline filling machine?
It is a machine that fills bottles in a line.
What are the advantages of inline machines?
- They are economical
- They are easy to adjust to your needs
- They are popular
- They can be manufactured with 4 heads or 20 or even more.
What type of Companies use Inline-filling Machines?
It usually is small to medium-sized companies that use these types of machines. The reason is that if something was to happen during the production, the following would be possible:
- The machine can be stopped.
- The machine can be fixed.
- The machine can be put into production again faster than you would be able to do with a rotary machine.
- You are also wasting fewer bottles.
Features of this machine:
- They are larger than the inline machines
- They can have 25, 50, or even 100 heads and possible even more
- They are fast
- They will help you produce more BPM than what an average inline machine can do.
The difference between a rotary and inline machine if a problem should occur mid-production is that with the rotary machine many bottles are wasted. Mainly due to there being more bottles in the machine.
Rotary machines are also more intricate than inline machines when it comes to fixing. But if you are a larger company, then these machines are more suitable for you. Because of their production volume and speed.
The following are examples of machines that can be made as an inline or rotary filler:
- Overflow pressurized machines
- Gravity filling machine
- Piston filling machine
- Pump filling machine
Are there any specific needs, features, or bottling process that you require?
Does your process require more than just a bottling machine? From a bottle rinser, or even a capper to close up your products and to keep them safe and fresh for usage.
As there is a large variety of products on the market and different needs for different products, please let us know about it to assist you and to keep your customers happy and satisfied.