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While some bottle fillers are suited to fill containers with dry goods (pills, powders, coffee), this page concentrates on liquid bottle fillers. With liquids, viscosity is important. It's a far different task to ask a machine to pump out units of water (low viscosity) than it is to fill jars of molasses (high viscosity). And while some machines can handle them all, you want to make sure the machine you buy can handle the product you're bottling.
If you're bottling a carbonated product (beer, soda, sparkling wine), you will need a counter-pressure filler which will:
Sometimes the carbonated beverage is chilled before filling to minimize foaming.
There are many types of containers that fillers can fill. For purposes of this page we will often refer to them as bottles, but you can fill cans, jars, jugs, etc. Some machines work well with certain containers, while other machines will destroy your chosen container. For instance, some automated machines will grab a bottle from the top, others from the side. If your bottle has a unique top, it might not work with a top-grabber, same if your bottle is too wide, it might not work with a side-grabber. So, it's important for us to know the size of the container you're using (ounces, liters, gallons) as well as its height, diameter or shape if you can tell us. Also, what type of opening does the container have (large lid, small cap, peel back)? For instance, if you are filling aluminum cans, that top requires a special machine.
There are many different speeds to bottle fillers, and the speeds differ for many reasons. Often smaller machines are measured by the amount of bottles they produce per hour (BPH), while larger, faster machines are measured by bottles per minute (BPM). For purposes of this site, we will use BPM.
A manual machine may be a great investment for a small company or brewing enthusiast, but it might not meet the demands of a large or growing company. A semi-automatic machine is going to take a little more manpower to feed bottles into it, but a little less money to purchase and it's not as big. Automatic machines take up more space, but require less hands as they pull bottles from bulk with a conveyor system. Use this chart to help determine your desired speed and automation:
|1 - 10 BPM||Manual||Small Business|
|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||Automatic||Large Business|
Liquid Level machines fill bottles so they appear to be filled to the same line on every bottle. Many companies, including cleaning products, soft drinks, beverage companies, breweries, wineries and distilleries prefer their customers see a uniform product and chose Liquid Level fillers. Liquid Level fillers also help achieve higher speeds of production and, in most cases, a lower cost per machine, which is sometimes a difference in the tens of thousands of dollars.
Volumetric Filling machines fill each bottle with exactly the same amount of liquid every time, sometimes resulting in bottles not looking as full as others. They require special instruments for balance, calibration, timing, etc., so they tend to cost more. But if every drop of your product comes at a high cost, (like gold or oil) the extra money for the machine will be necessary to save money in the long run. Machines cannot be converted from Liquid Level to Volumetric or visa versa.
Overflow Pressure Fillers are the most popular machines with beverage makers (beer, wine, juice, etc.). Although they are limited to low viscosities, they are a great value to any business owner attempting to produce a lot of bottles quickly. The liquid enters the bottle fast under pressure, while the machine catches spillage overflow or over-bubbling and sends it back to the bulk source. These machines are built for speed, and the one pictured below has 12 heads. Heads, or spouts, are the nozzles that deliver the product directly into the bottle. The more heads a machine has, the more bottles it can fill at one time.
Piston filling machines use pistons to pump liquid from one source to another with accuracy and some speed. Piston fillers are basically divided into two methods: Check Valve Pistons and Rotary Valve Pistons. Check Valve Piston fillers work well with low viscosity liquids and are great for drawing your product from a large container, then transferring it to the bottles easily and accurately. Rotary Valve Pistons are better for transferring thicker and chunky material, as the valve allows for chucks to pass through undamaged. Rotary Piston Filling machines are most notably recognized by the existence of a large funnel, or Hopper, used to pour the material into from a large container. Both Rotary and Check Valve Piston bottle fillers are available as manual, semi-automatic and automatic machines.
Pump filling machines are great for a wide variety of liquids with different viscosities, but not so great with chunks. Pump filling machines can pump liquids, pastes, creams (wine, syrup, toothpaste, ketchup, moisturizers) from your bulk container then deliver the product into the bottles. Pump fillers are popular, common and made many different ways including with volumetric filling instruments and multiple heads. They make small tabletop size pump fillers with a single head and they make them large with 10-foot, inline conveyor systems and 12 or more heads.
Gravity filling machines can be a cost effective way to achieve volumetric filling. They can be built and modified for a wide variety of products including pharmaceutical, beverage, chemical, flammable and hazardous materials. When the product needs to be dispensed more precisely, gravity fillers can be the way to go, especially if the product has a low viscosity. They make them simple, like this small siphon filler:
And they make large, automatic gravity fillers like the one below, which is a Timed Fill Gravity Machine. This machine places the product bulk above the bottles and times its release through the heads, achieving equal and accurate outputs each time. Be mindful when switching from filling one product to the next with these machines because the system will need to be rebalanced and/or recalibrated with each product change.
Inline filling machines fill bottles just as they suggest, in a line. Inline machines are popular, cost effective and easy to adjust with your needs. They can be made with 4 heads or 20 or more. Small to medium-sized companies often use inline-filling machines because if a problem occurs during production, the machine can be stopped, fixed and put back into production faster than you can a rotary machine. This also results in fewer bottles wasted.
Rotary filling machines are usually much larger, specialized machines that can have 25, 50, even 100 or more heads. Rotary machines are big, fast and will help your company produce far more BPM than your average inline machine. However, if a problem occurs mid-production, many bottles are often wasted because there are much more in the machine at any given time. Rotary machines can be complicated to fix, whereas inline machines tend to allow easier access to fix problems on the fly. That being said: If you are a large thriving business, the speed and production volume achieved by rotary fillers cannot be matched, which is why large companies like Coca-Cola use these machines.
You can find piston, pump, and gravity or overflow pressure machines made as inline or rotary fillers.
Do you need additional machinery such as a bottle rinser, capper, or labeler? Many of the suppliers on Kinnek sell not just standalone filling equipment, but entire bottling lines. When you make your request, please let us know what else you need.
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