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Liquid filling machines play a critical role in several industries and production lines. The pharmaceutical and the food & beverages sectors embrace the latest technologies in liquid filling. Similarly, fuel and cosmetics industries use liquid filling machines throughout their production lines.
Over the years, there has been a need to improve production efficiency in the liquid filling niche. Several factors drive the demand for highly efficient operations. For instance, high-end automation and robotics saw a new breed of filling machines in the market. Another push factor is the increasing demand for smaller-sized packages of products. The high-level competition also forced many companies to embrace these technologies. The hope being these technologies will help to differentiate them from competitors.
If you are keen on some of the latest trends in the liquid filling industry, we’ve got you covered. We’ve rounded up some key industry developments you should keep up with. Most of these trends are a result of advancements in tech and the shifting market forces.
Key Trends to Watch
According to an Industry Research Survey, the automatic liquid filling market will hit 665.6 million by the end of 2027. This is up from $ 491.5 million in 2020. This brings the CAGR at approximately 4.0% during the forecast period 2021-2027.
That said, the high rate of automation in nearly all sectors will see these figures go even higher. Manufacturers are now moving to automatic liquid filling machines for several reasons. First, they want to increase production speed and efficiency. Second, they want to minimize human errors and enhance product quality. These two factors will eventually improve their competitive advantage. Here are the key developments every manufacturer should watch.
1. Flexibility and Adaptability of Products and Containers
The shape, size, and material of different containers determine the filling technology. The container type also affects drives’ configuration on the filling station. Large containers require longer time cycles and bigger valves. On the other hand, glass containers are heavier and more fragile; hence, they need some special reinforcements.
Ideally, these differences would mean having different liquid filling equipment.
However, current technologies are defying this notion. Flexible machinery in the market can fill a wide range of containers and products. Manufacturers are also modifying the design of the products to make this possible. A perfect example is where manufacturers adjust product viscosity without compromising quality.
2. Quick Changeovers and Shorter Lead Times
As the economy recovers, there’s a high demand for a wide range of consumer products. Manufacturers must therefore work with more efficient machines to beat this demand. Liquid filling solutions that guarantee higher throughput and shorter lead times are now in the market.
The majority of the manual liquid filling machines come with slow changeovers. Modern machines in the market allow for quick cleaning, thanks to the CIP (clean in place) technology. This technology is becoming more critical now that we have the FDA’s Food Safety Modernization Act. The latter prioritizes the cleanability of the entire liquid filling line. In other words, there shouldn’t be complex fluid pathways that hinder quick cleaning. The goal is to have machines that are easy to clean. That is, without using tools to disassemble parts.
But the cost of these technologies could be a challenge for most small-scale manufacturers. Such companies are finding new ways to raise the required capital. Others are considering mergers and acquisitions with larger companies. Either way, they need to position themselves well to stay competitive in the market.
3. Multi-function Machines
Gone are the days when manufacturers had an array of machines, each performing a single task. Today, there’s a shift to multi-function machines that serves more than one operation at a time. For instance, a bottle-filling machine that caps and labels the product at a time.
And while this technology isn’t yet mature, the progress is commendable. Industry experts predict that complex multi-function machines will storm the market soon. Such machines could handle up to six operations without moving the products. These operations could include filling, capping, coding, labeling, cartooning, and casing.
Since these machines will be highly efficient, any failure would result in significant losses. A solution to this is to have multiple production cells. That is, if one module breaks down, you take it out and replace it with a functional one. That way, there will be fewer delays and disruptions compared to replacing the entire unit.
Choosing the Right Liquid Filling Machine Manufacturer
Now that you know what to expect in the industry, you want to partner with an up-to-date manufacturer. Depending on your range of products, the best filling equipment and technologies vary.
Certain products require special care during packaging and filling. For example, food, beverages, fruit juices, milk products, and baby foods. Here, you’ll need to eliminate microbial contamination. Hence, it’s necessary to invest in hot fill technology.
Similarly, you’ll need an aseptic filling line with high-precision metallic pistons. Customizing these technologies to suit your unique needs can be challenging. That is why you should partner with a manufacturer that understands your market. But most importantly, your specific needs.