Flow Meter Fillers

Flowmeter Technology:

There are thousands of applications and uses for flowmeters, this article will focus on the flowmeter used in bottle-filling machines.

Flowmeters are devices that measure the flow of liquid, gases, and solids through pipes, hoses, and gears among others.

With flow measured in volume/time, pulses/volume multiplied by time or counting pulses volume is calculated.

For example, flow meter measures 18 liters/minute * 3 minutes = 54 liters

 Flowmeter Technology for Bottle Filling

Flowmeter filling machines are becoming more popular every day with the increase in accuracy and cost reduction of the actual flowmeter devices.

To fill bottles with different products there are many technologies, among the most popular are:

  • Piston filling machines
  • Overflow fillers
  • Pump fillers
  • Gravity time fillers
  • Peristaltic pump fillers

The reason flowmeter fillers have risen in popularity is that the technology offers substantial advantages for some applications.

 

Depending on the type of flowmeter used in the liquid filling process the advantages and disadvantages vary, here are the most used:

Coriolis Mass Flowmeters Filling Machine

Advantages:

  1. Very accurate and repetitive flowmeter measurements: Having these high-precision flow measurements provides the tools to make volumetric liquid fillers that can fill from a few milliliters to a few gallons without changing pistons or other mechanical components used in other filling technologies.
  2. Ease of cleanability – effective CIP: These types of flowmeters offer one of the cleanest and least obstructed ways used in the bottling industry. The Coriolis principle is very particular since it measures the behavior (amount and frequency of mechanical bends) of the tubing where the product goes through, with this design, there are no threads or mechanical obstructions.

Since the Coriolis flowmeters are basically a tube it becomes very easy to clean by simply running cleaning products through, an effective CIP (Clean in place is achieved).

  1. Can be used to fill a large variety of products: One of the main advantages of a Coriolis filling machine is the wide variety of products it can run (Since it’s a Mass Flowmeter system), the same machine can run from water-thin products to medium viscosity creams or sauces. Having this flexibility makes it a great choice for co-packers and any bottling production facility that wants to produce several different products and wants fast changeovers and cleanup.
  2. Quick changeover in volume: When flowmeters are used on filling machines the volume adjustment it is normally done by either counting pulses or revolutions so adjusting volume from a small container to a larger one it’s quickly done by adjusting settings on the control panel.
  3. Stability through several filling nozzles: The accuracy and repeatability achieved with Coriolis Flowmeters is evident when there is no need in most cases to do any individual adjustments on the filling nozzles. Having no individual adjustments helps making changeovers from one product to another and/or volume faster and easier.

Limitations:

  1. High viscosity: Higher viscosity products have limitations since there is a large pressure drop to get the product going through the flowmeter.
  2. Cost: The price for the Coriolis flowmeters is high and the bottling equipment manufacturers need to do all the integration, pressurized tanks or pumps to be able to run these machines adding to the cost.

Electromagnetic Flowmeters

Advantages:

  1. Very accurate and repetitive flowmeter measurements: Having these high-precision flow measurements provides the tools to make volumetric liquid fillers that can fill from a few milliliters to a few gallons without changing pistons or other mechanical components used in other filling technologies.
  2. Ease of cleanability – effective CIP: These types of flowmeters offer one of the cleanest and less obstructed ways used in the bottling industry. The Electromagnetic flowmeter measures the flow going through the piping with electrodes and there is no effective interference of the product going through the cavity.

Since the Electromagnetic flowmeters are basically a tube it becomes very easy to clean by simply running cleaning products through, an effective CIP (Clean in place is achieved).

  1. Can be used to fill a wide range of electrically conducting products: One of the main advantages of the electromagnetic filling machine is the wide variety of products it can run, the same machine can run from water-thin products to medium viscosity creams or sauces as long as they are electrically conductive. Having this flexibility makes it a great choice for co-packers and any bottling production facility that wants to produce several different products and wants fast changeovers and cleanup.

Limitations:

  1. High viscosity: Higher viscosity products have limitations since there is a large pressure drop to get the product going through the flowmeter.
  2. Cost: The price for the Electromagnetic flowmeters is high and the bottling equipment manufacturers need to do all the integration, pressurized tanks or pumps to be able to run these machines adding to the cost.
  3. Product needs to be electroconductive: If the product that needs to get bottled is not electroconductive the flowmeter will not detect it, therefore it will not be able to measure the flow. It’s very important to take this into consideration for every product that the bottler wishes to fill as well as future production plans.

Oval and Spur Gear Flowmeters

Advantages:

  1. Variety: There are many gear and rotary designs, materials and cost, having these flexibility provides possibilities to make certain machines better adapted to particular applications
  2. Cost: There are many options from very economical plastic oval gears to rotary positive displacement pumps that can be used as flowmeter filling units.

Limitations:

  1. Accuracy: Accuracy on this pumps is acceptable for some industries but it’s not the most accurate or consistent
  2. Particles: Gear and Oval gear flowmeters can’t work with particles since it will get stuck on the teeth, but rotary BATMANSXX positive displacement pumps will be able to handle particle of different sizes depending on the
  3. Cleanability: In general cleaning gear flowmeters is not as easy, for delicate products and/or changes where compatibility between the products is an issue, complete disassembly of the flowmeter will need to take place
  4. Multiple head volume variety: On a liquid filler that has multiple gear flowmeters there is always the need to do individually adjust volumes of each head, even though the gear flowmeters are almost identical and pressures are the same, adjustments are necessary, and when a volume change is done the proportion of adjustments it’s not enough and additional adjustments need to be done.
  5. Quick changeover in volume: When flowmeters are used on filling machines the volume adjustment it is normally done by either counting pulses or revolutions so adjusting volume from a small container to a larger one it’s quickly done by adjusting settings on the control panel.
  6. Stability through several filling nozzles: The accuracy and repeatability achieved with Electromagnetic Flowmeters is evident when there is no need in most cases to do any individual adjustments on the filling nozzles. Having no individual adjustments helps making changeovers from one product to another and/or volume faster and easier.