There are generally two ways of automatically filling containers in modern industry: filling by volume and filling by weight.
Most filling machines are volumetric in nature, meaning that they output a fixed volume of product into each package or container that they fill. A machine filling by mass would have some sort of scale component, so it is able to weigh and output at a fixed weight. An example of this would be our Net Weight Filler systems. They use a hopper scale system to output an ideal weight into each container.
Ideally, you would want a system that fills by mass because most consumer products (in the case of food at least), are measured or sold by weight. Unfortunately, filling by mass can be very difficult with certain types of filling where a scale would not work well. An example of this is with the machines that fill the packages for beef chubs. They use pressure to extrude a certain volume of product into each plastic wrapping.
While many of these machines are good at staying at a fairly constant volume, correct weight is still not insured because of density. This often depends on how tightly packed a product is. For example, with any product in small pieces, filling by volume to reach net weight might not have the intended effect every time. If product doesn’t settle ideally into gaps and pockets in a package, the net weight of that package might be different than other packages of the same product.
The question then is how you eliminate the problem of products not meeting their intended weight. When combined with an in-motion checkweigher, there is a very intuitive answer to this issue.
If volumetric filling machines aren’t quite hitting the net weight mark for you, you can try running them over an in-motion checkweigher after they are output. You can set up the checkweigher so that it can reject these products and notify you to possibly adjust your filling machine.
An even more automatic option could be possible too. By combining the checkweigher and filling machine, you make it possible to make automatic adjustments to output. If the checkweigher system starts receiving a trend of out-of-weight products it can send an automatic voltage signal to the filling machine which can increase or decrease its output to bring the weight trend back into spec.
A solution like this could apply to a great variety of products and a number of industries. Whether you are dealing with beverages, food products, or even something like small toys or parts, an in-motion checkweigher might help you with an efficient resolution to your out-of-weight product woes.
Learn more about our In-Motion checkweighers.
Filling vacuum formed pouches, bags, or boxes through a manual process may seem like a simple way to complete an important production step in many food plants, but manual filling has several drawbacks. The main problems often are:
- High labor costs
- Introduction of contaminants into products
- Missed production targets from absenteeism
As we visited many of our customers they asked if we could design and build an automated system that could take products such as sliced pepperoni, bacon bits, jerky, or poultry cuts and place those products in formed pouches, bags, and boxes.
The automatic filling systems that we came up with increased filling efficiencies and produced a return on investment, in many cases, that exceeded the customers’ expectations. In some situations our customers went from four employees filling pouches to one person monitoring the process and making small adjustments to pouches when necessary, such as an occasional piece of product landing on a seam.
In addition to those labor costs savings, having fewer people handling products means that there is a reduced risk of contaminants and pathogens getting introduced into your food products.
Our automatic filling systems are designed with food safety in mind. They can be disassembled quickly and easily for daily clean up and sanitation. That means they do not miss work or even show up late.
Another advantage we provide in the automatic filling systems category is that we also manufacture in-motion checkweighers. By integrating an in-motion checkweigher in the same line, you can make sure that you do not ship underweight products to your customers and also make sure that you are maximizing your production efficiency by sending over weight packages to re-work.
If you are manually filling vacuum formed pouches, bags, or boxes give us a call to discuss your application and see if we can help increase your production levels, improve your product integrity, and lower your overall costs.
The food industry is brimming with needs because of the variety of different processes required so that we can have convenience in the food products that we consume on a daily basis.
Filling is the process of taking a large quantity of product and packaging it into smaller easier to handle quantities.
Currently, we make an automatic filling hopper system that uses hoppers and load cells in unison to fill containers to a predetermined weight(see left).
This system has been used for filling bacon bits, pepperoni, and frozen meat chunks, but the system is capable of handling nearly any product that needs to be packaged in quantity to feed various vacuum packaging equipment!
One of the most important pieces of this system is the garner hopper.
It is a scale hopper system that allows the filling process to run continuously.
The garner hopper is the first hopper that the product falls into off of the conveyor. Its purpose is to merely keep product flowing by cutting off flow into the main hopper while the product is being dispensed.
This effectively gives the lower main hopper a more static amount of product to weigh,improving accuracy.
Small product on a conveyor can pile up when the conveyor is stopped, so this continuous flow is very important in depositing a consistent amount of product, which is key for accurate measurement.
The garner hopper does not have the capability to slowly dribble product into the lower hopper (a common misconception). It remains open until the lower hopper is ready to dispense the product. When the lower hopper reaches its intended weight, the garner hopper closes, while the lower hopper opens to distribute the product.
If the amount in the garner hopper is too large when it reopens, the impact of said product on the main hopper’s load cell could register much higher, possibly fooling the hopper into believing that it is full.
Our engineering team custom-sizes the hoppers for your operation to ensure that the garner hopper does not hold too much product during distribution so that you don’t have to worry.
This automatic filling hopper system may seem fairly complex, but this allows you to perform an important task in the processing industry in a quick and efficient manner.
This is just one example in a long line of innovative solutions that we make for your industry, so contact us today or request a quote to fulfill your filling and scale needs!
Automatic filling machines are becoming more and more important for packaged products and there are several different ways to approach it.
Let’s look into three distinct types of batching and filling for different operations.
1- Garner Hopper with Controlled Flow
In this setup, product falls from a conveyor into a garner hopper.
This garner hopper remains open while a scale hopper below accumulates weight.
When the scale hopper reaches a target weight it dumps into another garner hopper below which restricts the flow to match the speed of an output like a conveyor.
The top garner hopper’s purpose is to keep the process flowing while limiting free fall from the conveyor after the scale hopper reaches its target weight.
This is used for smaller products that are grouped together on a conveyor.
2 – Garner Hopper with Direct Flow
This style is identical to the last except the bottom garner hopper is replaced with a funnel or direct outlet of some sort. The product released from the scale hopper is all released at once. This is used for filling pre-formed packages because it deposits the product quickly and accurately.
3 – Multiple Scaled Hoppers
For plants that run product at an even faster pace, it might be necessary to stop the conveyor or auger feeding the system to get the most accurate weight.
In this case, we have a system similar to the last, but the top hopper is also scaled so that it doesn’t build up too much product before opening into the scale hopper.
Conveyors can be linked to the upper scale hopper so that they shut off when the hopper nears being full as a precautionary measure.
Filling systems are important in many ways and can be used for most food product applications!
As the Process Engineer and I walked through his food plant, I could hardly believe my eyes.
There stood a massive stainless steel machine, reaching up to nearly touch the two-story ceiling, filling vacuum sealed pouches.
“What does something like that cost,” I asked.
“Right around $500,000,” was his reply, “not counting the programming costs.”
Then he added, “It has never quite performed as promised. We’d like to move it to a different area and try it with a different product, but that would require a massive plant redesign.”
I began to tell him about our portable Automated Filling Hopper Scales Systems that typically cost less than half of what he had paid, including programming costs.
“Portable? Less than half the cost?” His face looked a little pale.
“We build them to take products from slicers, mixers, grinders, choppers, or even whole products or ingredients,” I continued, “and convey those products to a bottom garner – hopper scale system designed to weigh and fill from one to four packages or pouches at a time.”
“And we communicate with the vacuum sealing machine, so that the two systems work together to keep product moving.”
“Well that’s one feature that my half-million dollar machine does as well as yours,” he quipped. “But tell me about clean up.”
“We design our systems for quick disassembly and reassembly so they can be thoroughly cleaned,” I said. “They are absolutely built with Food Safety and USDA inspections in mind. And we can also integrate other inspection systems with our automated filling system, such as metal detection, for even more peace of mind.”
“A portable, low-cost, safe Automated Filling System,” he mused, “I wish I had known about this before. But I will definitely give you guys a call for my next one.”