During the Anuga trade show, held in Germany next month, Sidel, one of the world's leaders in the engineering and supply of complete lines for liquid foods in PET packaging, will be showing its latest offerings for filling systems.
Sidel will be showing a wide range of technologies including volumetric and level filling, as well as net weight and aseptic techniques. These technologies are suited to the various requirements of filling PET bottles. During this show, Sidel will also be presenting its EIT (Efficiency Improvement Tool), a strategic service to optimise packaging line yield.
Amongst other technologies the company will be highlighting its capabilities in volumetric fillers. Currently its technology in this field offers high precision filling, to within +/- 2 ml, by controlling a preset volume of liquid in the filling chamber. The system is said to reduce foaming and product loss. Filling valves automatically open to allow the liquid to be fed into the container once pressure between the bottle and the chamber is equalized.
Level fill technology
The company will also be displaying its level fill technology. This system means the bottle is positioned underneath the filling nozzle. As the bottle mouth presses against the gasket, the filling nozzle opens and liquid begins to flow. The air in the bottle is evacuated outside of the filling enclosure through the hole in the middle of the nozzle tube. The tube is equipped with a ball that detects the correct filling level. This ball acts as a valve and blocks the flow of liquid, guaranteeing what Sidels says is a consistent and very accurate filling level.
Quick dismount tooling is also said to make the system highly flexible. All parts in contact with the liquid come in either passivated stainless steel AISI 316 L or in a food safe elastomer. All of the machine parts are designed with the aim of creating a hygienic filling system that's easy to clean and maintain.
In an effort to meet increasing safety requirements Sidel has taken technologies from the pharmaceutical sector and adapted them to food industry needs. This had led to an innovative multi-wheel sterilisation concept being coupled with the performance of an isolator and the precision of flowmetre filling.A series of bottle transfer wheels is used to optimise the sterilisation and rinsing of bottles and caps. The company says that the number of wheels may vary depending on the type of liquid, the output rate, and the type of sterilisation method used. Various platforms distribute the disinfecting agents and sterile water, guaranteeing sterilisation of the filler without the need for human intervention.
The isolator is actually a hermetically sealed enclosure made of stainless steel. It contains a relatively small volume in an overpressurised environment that is maintained by a ventilation and filtration system that makes it possible to operate without a clean room. Any risk of filler contamination is eliminated thanks to the automatic cleaning cycles that sterilize all of the internal surfaces of the isolator. Operators use glove ports to work directly on the enclosure.
Net weight filling
By combining proven mechanical technologies with new advancements in electronics, the company has developed a net weight filling machine that is claimed to be both accurate and reliable. The principle is simple: one weight, one measurement.
An electronic microprocessor uses weight to continuously control the fill rate process. A weight-sensing device closes the valve as soon as the preset weight is reached. It is not affected by any variations caused by changes in filling conditions (temperature, viscosity, or liquid concentration). The weight of liquid filled does not vary, which guarantees extreme filling accuracy, with a maximum variation of 0.5 per cent.
Efficiency Improvement Tool
Whether used for a single machine or for the entire line, the EIT is a monitoring and diagnostic tool that uses information generated by controllers and sensors installed on machines. It records and compiles data on all key parameters such as speed, availability, and average down time. Three features have been added to enhance its performance. First, the yield of several lines or plants can be displayed and instantly compared using the 'EIT Compare' and 'EIT Map' modules. Also, costs associated with waste and rejected containers are, according to Sidel, reduced using the 'EIT Waste Reduction' module. Finally, information can be accessed with a mobile 'Wireless' technology system using a pocket PC.
Information about all of Sidel's latest technological innovations will be available at Hall 12.1, row G, stand 28, at the Anuga Foodtec show, held in Cologne, Germany, 8-11 April 8, 2003.