Many start up companies begin packaging their products by hand. While the process is slow and can be somewhat inconsistent, lower production demands allow for slower packaging processes. However, if the demand for a product begins to grow, packagers will inevitably reach a point where the purchase of packaging machinery makes sense. However, the issue with choosing the correct filling machine can be trying to figure out where your production will peak.
Companies with smaller production demands can accomplish their daily goals with a single head tabletop filling machine. However, what if their output doubles over the course of a year? Do they need to purchase another single head filling machine? And another the next year? The simple answer to this question is no, a new filling machine is not required after every increase in production. Tabletop filling machinery can usually be upgraded from a single nozzle to as many as four fill heads, depending on the type of filling principle being used. In other words, rather than purchasing an entirely new filling machine, the packager can simply add an additional head to the existing machine, allowing the equipment to grow with the company.
Of course, there are some limitations to the upgrades, and large increases in production may require new or even additional machines. However, the table below shows the general range of fill heads for different liquid fillers.
Automatic Overflow Filler - 2 to 16 fill heads
Automatic Gravity Filler - 2 to 16 fill heads
Automatic Pump Filler - 2 to 6 fill heads
Tabletop Overflow Filler - 1 to 4 fill heads
Tabletop Gravity Filler - 1 to 4 fill heads
Tabletop Pump Filler - 1 to 2 fill heads
Given the table above, it should be obvious that each filling machine will have a production range that it can handle. With automatic filling equipment, up to fourteen additional fill heads can be added in the future to deal with increased product demand! Even with specialty filling equipment like piston fillers and corrosion resistant filling equipment, upgrades are often available.
In addition to the fill heads, semi-automatic filling machines can be manufactured using the same frame as automatic machinery. This means that companies with low to medium production requirements can use manual labor and semi-automatic fillers at the outset, but can add PLC's and indexing systems in the future to turn the machines into automatic filling equipment. This once again removes the necessity of purchasing brand new equipment after a jump in demand. The components necessary can be purchased and installed to upgrade the equipment.
The key to choosing the correct filling machine for any application should include an estimate of production growth over one, five or even ten years. Predicting product growth can help save company dollars and increase cash flow over the long haul.