You are a bright young small business owner selling a product that you are proud of. For now, you’re only selling locally. Perhaps to your neighbors, but then your town, then the next town over, your county, and eventually you’re selling to your product to the entire state. Your market is continuing to grow, yet here you are manually filling your product by hand. This process is no longer efficient, and surely won’t help you meet the growing demand. Perhaps it’s time for you to invest in some sort of filling machine to help you along the path to effective and efficient filling, but which one? There are so many different types, it can be overwhelming. Fear not, for there are some simple ways to test which machine would be best for you.
First, let’s talk about different types of fillers. There are auger fillers, which are great for non-free-flow and some free-flow, granular-like products. Non-free-flow powdered products, like cake mix, tend to compact, and an auger serves to break up the product to help it run more smoothly. Just as well, garlic powder, a free-flow product, will also run great on an auger filler due to its granular nature. In both cases, it comes down to the right set of tooling. However, you wouldn’t want to run a solid free-flow product like potato chips on an auger filler. That would result in product degradation, and nobody wants to open a bag of chips filled with just crumbs. That’s just a bad time! Potato chips and other snack foods are free-flow but solid products that would run best on a linear net weigh filler, otherwise known as a vibratory filler. Next there are piston fillers, which are used for any liquids from oils to chunky salsa. Finally, there are volumetric cup fillers which are great for free flow products like snacks and nuts, and at higher speeds than an auger filler.
Now, let’s move on to determining what type of product you have. One thing to do is figure out whether or not your awesome product is free-flow or non-free-flow. You can do this by doing a quick product displacement test. All you have to do is put your product into a container, take your index finger, and press your finger into your product. When you remove your finger, if your product fills in that hole then it’s free-flow. If it does not, then it’s non-free-flow. Pretty simple, right? Obviously this won’t work well with something like potato chips or oil, but for everything else this will narrow down your options for your perfect filling machine.
The next thing you should figure out about your super amazing product is the characteristics: is it a powder, granule, a delicate solid, or a liquid? How do you test that? Wouldn’t it be obvious what the product is? Well, for things such as solids and liquids, it can be easy to tell. With powders and granules it’s not always so cut and dry. For example, many people think sugar is a powder, but it’s actually a granule. To clarify, a powder is very fine particle, whereas a granule is more of a tiny particulates. Knowing this will help you narrow down what filler you should be looking for.
So, you figured out if it’s free-flow or non-free-flow. You know what the characteristics of your product is, but there’s a lot of, “yeah, but…” that might make your product unique. One final thing you can do to see which filler is best for your super amazing product is to send it in for testing. As we’ve mentioned in previous blogs, testing your product first really helps everyone to understand how your product behaves on fillers with specific tooling. We’ll put your product through its paces with different machines, tooling, the works. A simple lab test will determine if your product is free flow or non-free flow, the characteristics of your product, and what combination of tooling it will take to give you the best results for your filling needs. If we find that your product does not work well on an auger filler then we will try it on a vibratory filler, and if that does not work, we’ll move on to the next filling machine until we find the best solution for you. These test will help determine that, narrowing down your search for the best filling machine for your product.
Now look at you! You have a better understanding of which filling machine you need. This will help you make an informed decision about which filling machine will be best for you. As your productivity grows so does your market, and having the right filling machine to meet the demand would be beneficial.
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