CHOOSING A FILLING MACHINE FOR THE AUTOMOTIVE CHEMICALS INDUSTRY – VERSATILITY – SAFETY
The Automotive Chemicals Industry is a unique segment of our filling machine business. These producers typically have an extremely diverse product line and are vertically integrated with everything from cleaning chemicals to lubricants. The automotive chemical products include Soaps, Waxes and Emulsions, Abrasive Compounds, Antifreeze, Windshield Wash, Lubricants, Fuel Additives, Brake Fluid, Hydraulic Fluid and Coolants. These diverse products run the gamut of fluid characteristics from thick to thin and foamy to non-foamy. Many of these products also require special handling due to the challenges of abrasive compounds, explosion hazardous atmospheres , cross contamination sensitivity and heating of semi sold state products.
Basically, one of every machine that we manufacturer would be ideally suited for this diverse product lineup. In fact, many of our customers in this market have purchased multiple machines of varying technology best fit for each product range. But for smaller producers with a narrower product line, it is possible to choose a filling machine that might be a best fit for the applications if not an ideal fit. The following analysis of machine types used in this industry will identify which machines work best with which automotive products.
THE SERVO PUMP FILLING MACHINE FOR ALMOST ALL AUTOMOTIVE PRODUCTS!
Basically, any product that can be pumped can be filled on a servo pump filling machine. Thin foamy windshield wash and thick “engine honey” additives as well as semi solid waxes all run on this very versatile machine. The Servo Pump Filling Machine uses a computer controlled pump dedicated to each filling nozzle. This allows for total programmatic control of all filling parameters with unlimited fill sizes, high volumetric accuracy and the ability to deliver a very wide range of viscosities into almost any size or shape container. There are few practical limitations as to what a user can and should run through this machine. However, some materials that can damage positive displacement pumps should not be used on this type of machine. Abrasive products common to the automotive chemical industry, for example, are best handled in dedicated piston fillers to avoid destroying or causing premature wear in these pumps.
Although motor oil is mostly handled by large petroleum product producers, there are contract packagers and automotive products companies that to fill this product in smaller production lots. The servo pump filler is almost ideally suited to this product because many of these lubricant’s bulk densities change with temperature. When this happens, it is difficult for the operator to monitor and adjust for different container volumes in a conventional piston filling machine. Because the servo pump filling machine is computer controlled, recipes for instantaneous changeovers for different filling environments can be programmed into the machine. This type of filling machine can also be self-adjusting to ambient temperature by linking a thermal product probe to the operating system.
THE OVERFLOW FILLING MACHINE FOR LUBRICANTS, SOAPS, ANTIFREEZE, WINDSHIELD WASH, FUEL ADDITIVES, BRAKE FLUID & HYDRAULIC FLUID
The products that can be filled by an overflow filling machine are typically thin and free-flowing although some thicker lubricants may qualify especially when they are heated. Most liquid soaps and cleaning chemicals used in car washes are also very foamy. These types’ foamy products run best on overflow filler because the foam is conveyed out of the bottle during the filling process. The Overflow Filling Machine may have a limitation on some very thick soap but we have found that is generally not the case in automotive products. There are also some lubricants and oils that are quite thin and are handled well on an overflow filler. Windshield Wash is also handled well on this machine due to its foamy nature but some of these products contain a large amount of alcohol which may require hazardous location electrics. Please see our section HAZARDOUS LOCATION FILLING EQUIPMENT for more information about this option. Some products require dedicated overflow filling machines where there cannot be any risk of cross contamination of products. An example of this is a producers of brake fluid that choose not run any other product in that machine because of the risks of liability of their products failing in the field due to contamination.
The piston filling machine is the machine of choice for heavy greases. Thick products like this will simply will not pass through an overflow filling machine even when heated and some very heavy greases will cause pumps in servo filling machines to cavitate. Piston filling machines do not have these limitations because the size of the fluid path is very large and the supply side can be pressurized to force the heavy product into the pistons.
Although more costly than an overflow filling machine, the piston filler has an excellent cost to performance profile. This type of filling machine will produce lighter motor oils and additives at very high speeds per nozzle making it a very efficient machine relative to the capital cost. These filling machines are also very accurate which is important for producing commodity based products. In fact, many heavy greases are heated to become more flowable in a piston filler thereby substantially increasing the machines daily output. The disadvantage of a piston filling machine is that changeovers are slow and if product bulk density changes, all pistons need to be recalibrated to fill the same volume. This can be a tedious process and can reduce daily output during periods of substantial ambient temperature changes.
In conclusion, the buyer for an Automotive Products filling system is faced with a dilemma. If they have an extreme range of product characteristics as described above, either they can spend the money on a high cost servo pump filling machine or buy more than one machine i.e. a combination of a piston filler and an overflow filler. The neophyte buyer can be mislead by some machinery manufacturers into thinking that one machine can do everything. This is seldom the case and certainly not so in the Automotive Chemicals Industry.