Extracts, essential oils and flavors are typically high value products that are sold in small container sizes. However, there are also firms in this industry that produce liquid extracts and flavors in larger bulk sizes. The type of filling machine needed in this industry would depend on the range of fill volumes. The flavor producers selling larger bulk containers typically use a Net Weigh Filling Machine or a Servo Pump Filling Machine because of the ability to deliver larger volumes of expensive liquids at relatively high accuracy. It can be noted that companies filling in larger bulk containers make up a smaller number of suppliers in this industry.
The majority of companies producing extracts and oils do so in small container sizes but also at high accuracy. One very important production characteristic these products is that they are usually sold in multiple flavors or types. This means there is a high frequency of cleaning and/or changeover of products on any given day. Therefore, a filling machine for extracts and essential oils must be easy to clean and must also avoid the possibility of cross contamination of flavors.
Flavors in bulk are produced in metal cans, small totes and drums of various sizes. Many producers fill their products in all the formats described above. Since net weigh fillers use an open scale and also accurately account for the tare weight of all these different container types, there is often no concern for the shape or volume of the containers; the quantity of product delivered is always precise. This also means that a Weigh Filling Machine is very flexible for the range of products it can produce but it is a fairly low speed machine except for extremely expensive rotary systems that are rare and beyond the scope of this description. Generally speaking, net weigh systems have a fairly low container per minute output and a higher capital cost.
Because the process side of the flavor production is typically direct coupled to the Net Weigh Filling Machine, there is little to no “extra” fluid path to clean. Therefore, cross contamination can be easily controlled.
Servo Pump Filling Machine for Flavors and Extracts
Some flavor companies fill their products volumetrically in plastic totes and larger bottles. As long as their products’ bulk density does not change drastically from batch to batch (or as long as this is not important to their customers) the Servo Pump Filling Machine is an extremely accurate volumetric filler that is flexible, easy to use and easy to clean. Because a programmable servo controlled pump is used on each nozzle, there is no practical limitation to the size of the containers being filled. This means a flavor producer could fill both 5 gallon totes as well as quart containers of a product on the same machine quickly and efficiently.
Although this machine is easy to clean, it does have substantial amount of fluid path which may cause an unacceptable amount of residual product to be wasted in the cleaning process. If the product value is very high, the servo pump machine may not be appropriate for this reason. But since flavor production is generally not a very high output, the number of filling heads on this type of system and therefore the amount of residual fluid path would be limited. This observation is also important because each servo controlled pump/nozzle combination on this system is expensive.