Consumer Packaged Goods

Food Filling Line Automation: Then and Now

dough filling lineBefore the invention of hydraulic and pneumatic devices, people had to fill and seal containers one at a time. Sometime during the mid to late 19th century, hydraulic and pneumatic devices were invented. These devices made food filling line automation possible, because they could start and then stop filling bottles or cans as they moved down a conveyor.
The 20th Century Brings With It Machines Performing Complex Operations
Early in the 20th century, machines began performing multifaceted operations. Because these machines were able to carry out more versatile operations, they began replacing the individuals who had previously performed such tasks. For example, in 1905, a glass bottle-making machine was developed. The machine replaced the highly skilled glass blowers and the child laborers. Now, glass bottles could be mass-produced and used as containers for food filling lines.
Once factories began using electricity, even more complicated mechanical operations could be performed using electric motors and controls, resulting in the use of automatic processes for manufacturing almost all goods.
Several Kinds of Filling Machines are Available
For the most part, filling machines are used in the food industry to fill pouches or bottles.

  • Flow Filling Machines
    These machines are designed specifically for thin food products, including oils and liquids. As the tub or bottle moves along the conveyor belt, this machine fills it and then ejects it onto another conveyor belt to be sealed.

  • Auger/Agitator Filling Machines
    These food filling machines are used to fill containers with dry mixes, such as sugar, flour and cake mixes. The hoppers on this machine are shaped like a cone. The cone holds the dry food product mix and then fills the pouch via an auger screw controlled by an agitator. The pouch can be made of poly or paper that is in the form of a collar. Once filled, the pouch is heat-sealed.

  • Positive Displacement Pump Fillers
    These machines can be used with a wide range of fill volumes, container sizes and product types. Although these machines were meant for filling containers with gels, lotions and creams, they can also be used for thicker paste-like or liquefied products. Some food products for which this type of machine is perfect are heavy sauces, honey and hummus.

  • Tablet Fillers
    While the other filler machines use weight to determine when filling is complete, a tablet filler machine fills containers by setting up the hopper to scan count the candy pieces or tablets. This type of machine is designed for small bottles.
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