Liquid Bottle Fillers: Gravity Pressure vs. Positive Displacement

It’s hard to properly gauge the true value of a liquid bottle filler, or liquid filling machine, until something happens to it and you’re without one. If that’s the case in your packaging operations, you really have two choices – halt operations until a replacement is acquired or until repairs are made and it is back up and running or go about filling the bottles by hand. And if you were to choose the latter option – filling the containers by hand – then we’re betting you’ll really come to appreciate the role your filling machine plays within the facility.

Yes, filling machines are a critical component in the packaging process. They help pack a lot of different products, from milks and juices to oils and lotions. And they operate quickly and effectively, keeping business on track so that the end product gets to where it needs to be when it needs to be there. Oh, and liquid fillers are also able to accomplish this filling without spilling the product everywhere.

Now, just for a moment, picture life without a filling machine. It’s a life where you need to manually fill the bottles or containers along a conveyor line. Not only are you likely to spill product all over the place (no matter how careful you try to be) but you’re also likely to have bottles and containers with different levels of product. Perhaps you can live with the spillage and tolerate some minor differences in product levels – the biggest area where liquid bottle fillers shine has to do with efficiency. Liquid fillers work automatically and quickly, much more quickly than it would be if an individual took matters into their own hands.

While the benefits of liquid fillers are well documented, it’s worth noting that there are several different types of filling machines. Two of the most popular are those that work via gravity pressure or positive displacement. This post will take a look at each of these filling technologies.

Gravity Liquid Bottle Fillers

Gravity fillers are generally a low-cost filling option. However, they best work with thin liquids that don’t change in viscosity when subjected to different temperatures. As the name implies, gravity fillers work by distributing product from above the container. One benefit of gravity fillers, when compared with other types of filling technology, is that they can operate without the use of any specialized nozzles. In fact, most gravity fillers can be outfitted with a variety of filling nozzles pertaining to either the package that needs to be filled or the product that it needs to fill with. Some gravity fillers are also able to accommodate multiple heads to maximize filling of multiple containers at once.

Gravity fillers are applicable to many different types of liquid products, ranging from the food and beverage markets to cosmetic, pharmaceutical and specialty chemical. Gravity fillers are also able to effectively work with hazardous liquids, such as those that are flammable and corrosive.

Positive Displacement Liquid Bottle Fillers

Positive displacement fillers, which may also be known as “servo pump fillers” or “pump filling machines,” operate using a pump to distribute product to the container. Unlike the gravity filler, positive displacement fillers are better suited to work with more types of liquids, which make them an ideal choice for filling containers with the likes of pastes, creams, gels and more. Although positive displacement fillers are more expensive than many other types of filling equipment, they’re an ideal purchase for the contract packaging company who works with a bevy of different customers in various different markets. That’s because the versatility of the machine makes it applicable for just about any liquid with the ability to fill any product.

There are, however, some key disadvantages to the positive displacement filling machine, one of which we already mentioned here – its higher price point. Yes, these types of fillers aren’t cheap, and neither are the drive systems that help the pumps work. What’s more is that it takes quite a bit of technical know-how to properly maintain these types of fillers. So unless you or someone on staff is cut out for properly caring for and maintaining this type of filler, you’ll need to set aside some funds for a professional to come in and service it from time to time.

Other Fillers      

It’s also worth mentioning that there are a few other types of fillers. For instance, overflowing filling machines are ideal for products that produce foam and for products that are thin to medium in viscosity. Applicable liquids that are packaged in clear containers are almost always filled on overflow machines, as such machines excel at filling to exact level, which is crucial when you’re dealing with transparent packaging and the customer can tell the difference.

Another type of filler is a piston filling machine. Specifically, these machines work with high viscosity liquids and are able to process said products in higher volumes than other types of filling technology, which can be advantageous with the likes to tomato sauce and jelly.

Which Filler is Right for You?

So which filler is right for you? Certainly it depends on what types of containers you’re working with and what types of products you need to fill them with. For packages like water bottles, for instance, a gravity filler may work out just fine. But if you’re filling containers with soaps and pastes, a positive displacement filler may be necessary. For other, more high viscosity products, a piston filling machine may need to be a part of your facility’s purchasing plans. In some cases, just one type of liquid filling machine may not cut it and you may need to acquire multiple types in order to support your client base.

Whatever type of filling machine you decide on, one thing is for sure – this equipment can be expensive to acquire. And this can be problematic, especially if you’re dealing with a positive displacement filler that may require a bit more maintenance or may fail prematurely if proper care isn’t taken of it. When it comes time to acquire a new filling machine or add another one to your operations, you can elect to go the brand new route or you can purchase a used machine. Outlets like Bid on Equipment specialize in acquiring used machinery and selling them so that its customers can get like-new equipment at a used price. Often times, this can be the financial relief that companies need to continue their business without interruption.

For more information on liquid filling equipment, and to browse Bid on Equipment’s filling equipment inventory, contact Bid on Equipment today.

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