A Case Study on Filling Machines for Foaming Products

Foaming liquids have always been a problem for chemical manufacturers when filling containers of any size. A 55 gallon drum, for instance, takes about one minute to fill up with water, but when filling with a foaming liquid it takes two and a half minutes. Most companies accept this drum filling problem as a normal part of business. When they need to increase production, they simply purchase another liquid filler, or start a second shift, or they might give the job to a contract packer. Either solution is costly and difficult to justify.

The Customer

Corporate executives from engineering and production of a worldwide maker of cleaning products came to our plant to look over our filling machines and hopefully find a way to reduce their foaming issues to increase production. After touring several installation sites to see why Specialty Equipment drum fillers were better than others, the execs met with our experts in engineering, controls, maintenance, and manufacturing of liquid filling machinery.

The Challenge

Our challenge was clear; if we create a drum and tote filling system that dramatically reduces foam during the filling cycle we could increase the production of any of our drum filling machines and thereby satisfy one of the most important needs of the chemical industry. In addition, our filling machines will provide a faster payback than any others. So we put our research and development team to work on the problem.

The Solution

We were already developing a method of reducing foam with a special tear-drop valve at the end of a lance. However, if we were to decrease foam by as much as 50%, something else was needed at the infeed line. Our customer told us about a special pump that limited airflow into the line. After adding that to our filling machinery we developed a recirculation loop and had a one-of-a-kind solution. A month after meeting with the customer, our R & D people had built and tested the “No-Foam” package, a proprietary option we created that can be added to any of our standard filling machines.

The Customization

Using our most popular filling machine, the model DF-5540 palletized drum and tote filler, we added the components of the “No-Foam” package which included:

  • Twin ball valves on the infeed to control the air intake and flow of liquid
  • A teardrop-like foot valve at the tip of the filling station lance
  • Extra-long lance to begin filling at the bottom of each container
  • A ramp up/down controller to control the speed and foam level.
  • 75 gpm “special” pump at 50 psig
  • 5 HP TEFC motor with gear reducer
  • NEMA 4 control panel with 2 speed controller
  • Pressure gauge for 0-200 psi
  • Flow meter, strainer and sight glass
  • 40 micron Y-strainer/cleanout
  • Special piping for a 2” NPT recirculation loop
  • Steel skid with all components assembled and tested

The Filling System

The first of many filling systems this customer purchased was a U-Line configuration built for filling all their various foaming liquids into 30 to 55 gallon poly drums, plus totes from 275 up to 550 gallons. The filling machine uses a special Kynar lance for filling acids and a stainless lance for regular foam filling. The conveyors are zones of powered chains and transfers because of the wrong-way pallet flow. A bung and capping station was built after the filling machine with operator walkover sections, painted safety yellow.

The Benefits

When the customer brought their problem to us, filling a 55 gallon drum took 2 minutes and 12 seconds and had 4” of foam at the top. The new filling machine with the No-Foam package filled a 55 gallon drum in just 56 seconds with only 1/2” of foam. That meant that the new filling machine actually doubled the customer’s liquid filling output and gave them a payback in less than 90 days.

The Next Phase

After the success of the first filling system, the customer purchased two more liquid packaging lines that year with a commitment for four more filling systems the following year.

Other filling systems this customer purchased included L-line and a Straight-Line configurations. All the filling machinery, conveyor systems, pallet dispensers, and controls are built and tested at our plant in Houston, Texas.

Specialty Equipment Company has been in business since 1969 and is now the largest manufacturer of drum filling, conveying and palletizing systems in North America.

See the “No-Foam” video that shows before and after filling of foaming liquids into drums:

Let us know how we can solve your IBC and drum filling problems.

When the customer brought their problem to us, filling a 55 gallon drum took 2 minutes and 12 seconds and had 4” of foam at the top. The new filling machine with the No-Foam package filled a 55 gallon drum in just 56 seconds with only 1/2” of foam. That meant that the new filling machine actually doubled the customer’s liquid filling output and gave them a payback in less than 90 days.

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