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Filling Machine for the Liquid Soap

and Detergent Industry
 

Because liquid soaps and detergents (and laundry softeners) are fairly thin viscosity, they are capable of being filled on more than one type of filling machine.  The choice of filling machine would depend on what relative advantage is more important: speed versus cost. The least expensive filling machine that can package these liquid products is the overflow filling machine. It is also the slowest producer but with great flexibility.  A piston filler is a fast producer at higher cost but with some disadvantage in changeover time and fill size range. The servo pump filler can fill any size container at fast rates but at high capital cost.



(click to enlarge)
 Overflow Filling Machine for Liquid Soap Products


Generally speaking, all liquid soaps and detergents are very similar in viscosity with a range from about 1000 centipoise not exceeding 10000 centipoise. This viscosity range does make it suitable for use in an Overflow Filling Machine but the product will run quite slowly on the upper end of this range. This will require many fill nozzles and possibly more than one pump to distribute the load and backpressure evenly. Therefore, smaller producers of these products will enjoy a lower capital cost of equipment but will find their output limited. As the viscosity of the soaps increase, the number of nozzles will correspondingly increase and thereby increase the capital cost up until the point that it is now at par with the cost per output of a smaller piston filling machine. Foreign producers in smaller countries with smaller markets find this machine very attractive for lower outputs.  The advantage of this machine is also its ability to fill nearly any size or shape detergent container with no changeparts and fast changeovers.

It should be noted that many new producers think that mild steel construction of the filling machine is acceptable for a non food grade product such as detergent. In actuality, detergents are quite corrosive and therefore these machines must be constructed of 304 stainless frame with 316L stainless fluid paths.


(click to enlarge)  Piston Filling Machine for Thick or Particulate Food Products


Food products that are thick like heavy sauces and pastes or that have a high particulate content including large pieces of meat or vegetables like chunky salsas, require a filling machine with the necessary force and large enough fluid path to pass these products. A thick paste simply will not pass through an overflow filling machine and 1" pieces of tomato and onions will clog up overflow and gravity filling machine nozzles immediately. Therefore, the piston filler is used widely to handle these types of products. In fact, in the food filling business, it is probably the most common filling machine wth an excellent cost to performance profile although piston fillers are more costly than overflow fillers with similar outputs. These type of filling machines are fairly fast producers with typical outputs of 10 containers per minute per nozzle These machines can also be configured with jacketed product hoppers to maintain hot fill temperatures as well as rotary agitators to keep heavy particulates in proper suspension.  . It should be noted that while these machines are ideally suited to thick or chunky food products they are not well suited to thin flowable products as described in the Overflow Filling Machine description above. Although it is possible to fill thin products in a typical food piston filler, the large fluid path is prone to drips or leaks on thin products for the very same reason it is ideally designed for thick and chunky products. This types of filling machines are also very accurate providing a volumetric fill size that is precise to greater than 1% of volume.
 


(click to enlarge) Servo Pump Filling Machine for Almost All Food Products!


The Servo Pump Filling Machine is an extremely flexible, easy to use and easy to clean filling machine in a class of its own which can fill almost any food grade product you can imagine. Because it can handle an extremely wide range of viscosities and can pass particulates up to 3/4" diameter without chopping, it can be used to fill Juices, salsas, jellys and jams, salad dressings , sauces and some pastes.  This filling machine shines because of its ease of cleaning and it makes it very convenient for producers that have many different flavors or products to produce in one day. These filling machines have been successfully installed in USDA plants because of their cleanability. A computer controlled pump dedicated to each filling nozzle allows for total programmatic control of all filling parameters with unlimited fill sizes, high volumetric accuracy and the ability to deliver almost any thick, thin, particulated or non particulated sanitary product into almost any container. This type of filling machine is considered a contract packager's dream. 

As you would surmise,  all of this flexibility comes at a high capital cost.  Each servo controlled pump/nozzle combination typically costs over $10,000 per nozzle.  However, this machine pays for itself where the producer has many food products to produce in small batches; the short cleaning time and nearly instantaneous setup time of operating parameters makes it possible for the producer to fill many unrelated product batches in the same day and be very responsive to his or her customers.

 


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