Filler technology is at the center of the milk line, and as milk has changed, so have the fillers

Whether it's plastic or paperboard, processors have more filler options than ever. Photos courtesy of Elopak Inc.
Next to the process system, the filler is the heart of any milk line in a dairy plant. Whether it’s a simple 6-head rotary filler, or a high-speed multilane linear machine with a hepa-filtration chamber, the filler is the center of line activity.

Today’s processors are doing more with their fluid milk, and therefore they need fillers that can do more, and suppliers have responded. Packaging materials and package sizes have changed, and many manufacturers are now offering different lines of equipment for use with more than one kind of packaging. Machines are faster and achieve higher levels of hygiene for longer shelf life and ambient storage.

Dairy processors looking to expand and upgrade their operations now have to think about what kind of business they want to run, and make their filler decisions accordingly.

The Elopak PurePak(R)P-S 120 is an example of the speed and hygiene that today's fillers offer.

Changing approach to bottled milk

The landscape of the filler business has changed dramatically in recent years. As more and more beverages (including single serve milk) are being sold in plastic, two companies that have specialized in paperboard and laminated box packaging—Elopak Inc., New Hudson, Mich., and Tetra Pak Inc., Vernon Hills, Ill., have recently included blowmolded plastic in their lines of packaging and equipment.

Tetra Pak and Stork Dairy Systems, Gainesville, Ga., are bringing shelf stability to low acid products in plastic packaging. This has opened new opportunities for the processors who have partnered with them to implement this technology in the U.S.

In December, Tetra Pak announced that it had received U.S. Food and Drug Administration's acceptance of the Tetra Plast™ LFA-20 Aseptic Filling Technology at Jasper Products in Joplin, Mo. The LFA-20 at Jasper Products is the first FDA accepted linear aseptic filler for HDPE bottles in commercial use for low acid food and beverages. With the technology, Tetra Pak customers can now commercially fill low acid products into HDPE plastic containers and distribute them without refrigeration. This technology offers consumers the convenient, safe and portable products they demand, with the high quality taste and nutritional delivery provided by aseptic technology.

One of the first users of the line will be Dr.Pepper/7-Up of Plano, Texas which plans to introduce a shelf stable flavored milk line called Raging Cow (see related story p. 17).

In January Dean Foods announced that its Morningstar Division had won similar FDA approval for the Stork line at its Mt. Crawford, Va. plant. Morningstar uses the line to produce Hershey’s flavored milks and shakes and Folgers Jakada coffee drinks, and it plans to ship the product at ambient temperatures with a 180 day code.

The Model SH7/64S32 rotary filler from Federal Manufacturing features 64-valves with 32 pocket starwheels and is designed to fill plastic and glass bottles with a maximum diameter of 3.0" (76 mm) at speeds to 800 bpm. Federal builds this model with and without a capping turret. Other models are available for larger containers. Special features include EXT demountable valve flanges, electronic level control system, filler driven in-feed conveyor, automated lubrication system, automated cleaning and sanitizing system, and Control +Plus with touch screen operator interface.

Federal Manufacturing Co.
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A new line of multi-lane inline equipment from Stork Food & Dairy Systems Inc. USA can to used to fill in both Ultra-Clean and Aseptic processes. The machine can receive product/s from one of many different Stork UHT processors. Because it is multi-lane, it may be used to fill more than one type or flavor of product simultaneously. Production rates will vary, depending on the number of lanes, the size of the container and the viscosity of the product. Fill time is the major limit on cycle time, but the bottles can be filled in multiple stages to shorten the cycle time.

Stork Food & Dairy Systems Inc.
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Evergreen Packaging Equipment, a division of International Paper specializes in paperboard packaging options that offer standard, extended shelf life and aseptic capabilities. Barrier board and Spout-Pak technologies are designed not only to extend product shelf life, but to lock-in and protect the natural flavors, vitamins and nutrients of your dairy items. International Paper Beverage Packaging systems address all needs and requirements individually - on consumer, retailer and processor levels - ensuring that refrigerated or aseptic dairy products succeed in every category. The company has several lines of fillers to meet different needs. One example is the EH3 ESL unit which is designed for half gal and 2 liter sizes at speeds up to 120-140 cartons per minute, depending on the carton.

Evergreen Packaging Equipment
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Fogg Filler Company
A New“Untouchable” Sanitary Valvedesigned for non-contact, extended shelf life applications is offered on specific models byFogg Filler Companyof Holland, Mich. Unlike gravity flow valves that are opened and closed by the container top, the Untouchable does not come in contact with the bottle, virtually eliminating the possibility of bacteria being passed from one bottle to the next. The valve operates electronically, controlled by Fogg’s metered, volumetric filling technology, for an exceptionally precise and sanitary filling process at low and high speed, regardless of container size or neck style. The Untouchable delivers outstanding performance in hot and cold pack, as well as viscous liquid filling.

Available on the Fogg Fill Pro 5000 rotary filling system, the Untouchable is engineered from stainless steel and features a simple design without O-rings that can harbor bacteria. This 3A valve can be quickly and easily cleaned. When used in a Fogg Clean Guard extended shelf life enclosure, the Untouchable allows the operator to rinse the filling plumbing without compromising the HEPA seal. After the cleaning cycle, the operator can easily program new filling levels and speeds through the touch screen control panel.

Fogg Filler Company
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Sidel Inc., Norcross, Ga., is the U.S. division of one of the largest beverage equipment manufacturers in the world. Sidel offers integrated blowing filling and capping for the dairy industry. The company has product lines for fresh milk as well as long shelf life and aseptic. The systems are designed to use less floor space and to be run by a single operator. The clean systems are used for standard fresh milk, the ultra-clean for extended shelf life, and the aseptic system for UHT milk. With the ultra-clean and aseptic systems, fill volume is controlled by electromagnetic commands of the filling nozzle. The systems are flexible and designed for ultra-fast format changeovers, with volume changes being made from the keypad.

Sidel Inc.
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Serac Inc., Carol Stream Ill., is an international manufacturer of packaging equipment specializing in liquid filling machinery. Serac’s equipment offers a wide variety of solutions including many with dairy applications, particularly for single serve. Serac offers a comprehensive range of filling machines and systems including semi-automatic fillers in single or twin configurations with speeds up to 700 bottles per hour. Extended shelf life and aseptic lines with integrated sterilization are available.

Serac Inc.
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IDFA’s Plant Operations Conference

Attendees of IDFA'S Plant Operations Conference will get the latest information on plant regulations, bio-security, and operation efficiency techniques. The conference is scheduled for April 8-9, at the Doubletree Guest Suites Chicago Hotel. For more information,, or contact Beverly Posey at 202/220-3557