Glossary - Filling Industry Terms

These terms are defined as they relate to the filling process, machinery, or machine parts.

(container characteristic) - Container, bottle, pail, drum, and tote related definitions
(fluid characteristic) - Terminology and concepts related to fluid physical properties and flow characteristics
(machine characteristic) - Definitions for different machine types, setup, and performance measures
(machine/part/equipment) - Types of components, parts, machines, and equipment and how they interact with the overall filling system
(process/operation) - Processes related to a filling system or individual machine or task

Automatic filling (machine characteristic)
Machines which can fill and index containers without direct operator input. Usually, these machines operate with a conveyor system and may include upstream or downstream equipment in addition to the filler (eg capper, labeler). These machines are usually only cost effective for high speed packaging requirements. Usually very involved setup processes for new fluids and container sizes, but benefit from high throughput.
Similar or related terms: Full auto

Bag-in-box (container characteristic)
A collapsible container for liquids consisting of a flexible bladder which is then held in place with rigid outer structure, usually fiberboard. Benefits include being able to reduce or eliminate trapped air as well as being collapsible for easier storage when empty. However, bag-in-box systems require additional labor and training to setup prior to filling.
Similar or related terms: BIB

Barrel (container characteristic)
A general term for a large cylindrical container for liquids, gels, and other bulk produce. Barrels can be either plastic, metal, or fiberboard and can range in size from 10 gallon to 55 gallon and above.
Similar or related terms: Keg, drum

Benchtop (machine characteristic)
A machine designed to be used as a stand-alone system operated manually or semi-autonomously. Typically sold as something that can fit on top of a table or bench, but may also have its own integrated stand or table. These systems are designed for smaller production runs.

Bottle fence (machine/part/equipment)
A long flat vertical surface positioned behind a single nozzle or nozzle array, used for positioning individual bottles or a bottle shuttle.

Bottle neck (container characteristic)
In a container where the opening is a smaller diameter than the overall bottle, the neck is where the diameter starts to get smaller. The neck is significant in a filling process when considering fill accuracy, foaming, sloshing, and retail presentation. For instance, filling is generally stopped prior to the neck since slight differences in fill amounts are much more noticeable within the bottle neck and may not be as presentable on a retail shelf.
Similar or related terms: Bottlenecking, shoulder, orifice

Bottle positioning jig (machine/part/equipment)
A positioning fixture for placement of a bottle beneath a filling nozzle or capper. Used for repeated placement in the same position. More advanced bottle positioners may have a bottle sensor to automatically start a filling operation once a bottle is detected beneath the nozzle.

Bottle shuttle (machine/part/equipment)
A positioning fixture for moving several bottles at the same time. Used for reduced operator strain or improve filler throughput. Bottles are precisely positioned in-line and are indexed through various filling and capping operations, allowing the operator to move several bottles in one movement. Bottle shuttles are typically designed for benchtop machines and stand-along conveyor machines (ie machines non-conveyor components before or after the machine).

Cam Lock fitting (machine/part/equipment)
A type of quick release fitting which allows for quick and tool-less disassembly consisting of a plug and socket component held together with cam levers. These are best suited for hose connections 1.5" to 4" in diameter.
Similar or related terms: Cam-lock, cam and groove

Capillary nozzle (machine/part/equipment)
A type of nozzle for filling smaller containers which uses the surface tension of the fluid to prevent drips when idle. Usually paired with a positive displacement pump such as a peristaltic pump.

Carboy (container characteristic)
A general term for large plastic or glass, round or square, container commonly used in laboratory, brewing, and industrial chemicals. A carboy is typically larger than 1 gallon and common sizes are around 5 gallons.
Similar or related terms: demijohn

Chain conveyor (machine/part/equipment)
In a filling system, a powered conveyor type with chain links that have a flat top surface used to support bottles or pails. The conveyor can either stop moving once bottles are in position, or move continuously while bottles are held in position with pneumatic bottle stop devices.
Similar or related terms: Sprocket-driven conveyor belting

Check valve nozzle (machine/part/equipment)
A type of nozzle which stops air from entering the tip when idle via a check valve. This is one of the more economical types of nozzles, however, it is not a no-dip nozzle and can experience problems with proper check valve operation over time.

Cut-off tip nozzle (machine/part/equipment)
A type of nozzle with a closure at the tip (nozzle orifice) which prevents dripping. This type of nozzle also allows for immediate startup of the fluid flow to provide for faster fills. This is the standard nozzle on most high speed filling machines for containers larger than 1oz. Variants include positive cut-off tip, foot valve, and overflow nozzle.
Similar or related terms: Positive cut-off, foot valve, no-drip

Cycle rate (process/operation)
The number of containers per period of time that a machine can process. This is a general guide and will vary based on container volume, pump speed, and operator skill
Similar or related terms: Containers per minute (CPM), containers per hour (CPH)

Decanting (process/operation)
The process of removing some or all of the fluid within a larger container to place it within a smaller container while leaving sediment, particulates, or contaminants within the bottom of the larger container.

Diving nozzle (machine/part/equipment)
A type of nozzle which can move up and down, typically with a short extension or lance. Diving nozzles are used for either filling from below the top rim of the container or for bottom-up filling to control for foaming, sloshing, or fumes/aerosols

Drum accessories (container characteristic)
Liners, bung wrenchs, plugs, flanges, capseals, faucets, funnels, heaters/coolers, mixers, pumps, pallet jacks, trucks, dollies, cradles, compactors, scales, absorbent pads, deheaders, lifters, gauges, strainers, spill containment, overpack drums, bung vents

Drum bung (container characteristic)
Closed-head drums typically have two openings, 2″ NPT and 3/4″ NPT for metal drums and 2" NPS and 2" Buttress for HDPE drums. A drum bung wrench is usually required for removal and installation of drum bungs.
Similar or related terms: Drum plug, bunghole

Drum types (container characteristic)
Drums are typically steel, HDPE, stainless steel, or fiber drums with styles include open and closed/tight head, lined and unlined. Closed or tight head drums will have drum bung openings, which will vary depending on the drum material and design.
Similar or related terms: Barrel, keg

F-style bottle (container characteristic)
A type of rectangular bottle which has a handle on the top near the opening designed for carrying and pouring. F-Style bottles are commonly used for industrial chemicals, lubricants, and solvents and can be either metal or plastic.

Fill accuracy (machine characteristic)
The ability of the machine to fill to a specified target volume or weight, plus or minus a tolerance amount.

Flush (process/operation)
Fluid used during a product changeover which helps to clear out residual from the last fluid pumped and prepares the machine for the new fluid. Used in order to reduce or prevent contamination of the fluid being switched to. Flush is part of a fill operation's waste stream and care should be taken to select equipment which can clear internal trappen fluid easily.
Similar or related terms: Waste fluid

Flushing (process/operation)
The process of clearing trapped fluid within a filling system in order to conduct a product changeover. Initially, the pumps may be run forwards or reverse to unload the machine, then compressed air may be used to assist the pumps in removing fluid, finally a flush fluid is used to clean out all remaining residual. In special circumstances, replacement of hoses and pump disassembly and cleaning may be necessary if contamination between fluids is a big concern. Flushing processes take a lot of time and can produce a lot of waste flush fluid. Selecting equipment and designing operations to minimize or eliminate flushing is usually a cost saving measuring in the long term.

Foaming (fluid characteristic)
A tendency for a fluid to produce bubbles when vigorously moved within a system or out of a nozzle into a container. Foaming is a significant fluid characteristic to control for and will determine nozzle design, pump speed, fill behavior, and bottle characteristics.
Similar or related terms: Foam

Fume extraction (machine characteristic)
When dispensing a fluid with hazardous or otherwise harmful fumes, a fume extraction system is often used to protect the operators or the environment. This is typically a small hood installed around the nozzle, which is connected to an air suction hose. The fume hood is then put under negative pressure to extract any fumes resulting from the filling process.

Gravimetric filling (process/operation)
Any filling operation which fills to a specific weight target. For example, a filling machine for 1 gallon containers may used a scale with load cells to measure 8.3 lb of fluid. Example of gravimetric fillers is net weight fillers

HMI (machine/part/equipment)
An industrial display, usually with touch capabilities, which is the interface between the PLC and the operator. The HMI can display readings of various machine settings or statuses and display buttons for the operator to control the function or behavior of the filling machine.
Similar or related terms: Human machine interface, touch screen

In-line filler (machine characteristic)
A filling system which incorporates a conveyor for bottle movement and is usually paired with other bottle processing components with their own conveyors (such as cappers, labelers). These system are usually fully automatic, but can be semi-automatic in smaller-scale operations.
Similar or related terms: Inline conveyor

Kegs (container characteristic)
A general term for a large cylindrical container for liquids, gels, and other bulk produce. Kegs can be either plastic, metal, or fiberboard and can range in size from 10 gallon to 55 gallon and above.
Similar or related terms: Barrel, drum

Load cell (machine/part/equipment)
A component of a weighing system typically wired to a junction box and then to a scale indicator or weight transducer. These can be used as a stand-alone weighing system or integrated into a net weight filling system.

Metered flow filler (machine characteristic)
A filling machine type which fills by measuring volume pumped either through a positive displacement pump, such as a peristaltic or gear pump, or through a flow meter. This is distinct from a timed flow filler because the machine is programmed to dispense a specific volume, rather than to pump for a specific amount of time.
Similar or related terms: Positive displacement filler, flowmeter filler

Net weight filler (machine characteristic)
A filling machine type which fills a container by weight. A container is typically placed on a scale and the signal is then read by the filler's computer. The filler will use the weight measurement in when filling to a correct fill level. The weight measurement can be a good proxy for filling to a specific volume, or it container can be sold to the customer by weight of the fluid (ie legal-for-trade weighing). Note that legal-for-trade weighing equipment must comply with your local weights and measures regulatory rule.

Nitrogen blanket (process/operation)
A process where gaseous nitrogen is introduced into a container either before, during, or after the filling operation. The nitrogen will prevent or slow chemical reactions that may cause explosions, oxidation, water absorption or other unwanted effects.
Similar or related terms: Nitrogen padding

Nozzle (machine/part/equipment)
In a filling system, a nozzle is where the fluid exists the filling system and is deposited into the container. The design of a nozzle can vary depending on the fluid characteristics, such as viscosity, flow rate, foaming tendency, etc. In most cases, the nozzle will have a mechanical closure or valve is order to prevent fluid from draining or dripping while idle.
Similar or related terms: Fill nozzle

Nozzle lance (machine/part/equipment)
A type of nozzle which extends below the top of the container in order to fill "bottom-up." These are typically used when controlling for foaming, sloshing, or fumes/aerosols. These require a diving nozzle in order to lower the lance in to the container, then raise it up after the fill is complete.
Similar or related terms: Dip tube

Overflow filler (machine characteristic)
A filling machine type which fills using special nozzle which is adjusted to set the fill height. The nozzle incorporates both fluid dispensing as well as a suction inlet for when the fluid reaches a defined level. These can be labor intensive to set up and maintain since there is significantly more plumbing involved and moving parts. The nozzle must also press onto the rim of the bottle and form an airtight seal, which can be problematic for some bottle types.

Overflow nozzle (machine/part/equipment)
A type of nozzle which incorporates a cut-off tip with a fluid suction/return line. The position of the return inlet can be raised and lowered to adjust fill height. These nozzles require additional setup and maintenance and are more costly compared to a typical cut-off nozzle.

Pail accessories (container characteristic)
Pail lids (press on, twist, crimp, tear strip, reiki spout), liners, heaters/coolers, strainers, funnels, pail pumps, steel lid crimpers/closers, pail opener prybar, overpacks, pail trucks/dollies

Pail lid types (container characteristic)
Snap/press on (HDPE, other plastics), crimp on (steel, stainless steel), removable, without spout, rieke flex spout

Pail types (container characteristic)
Pails are typically HDPE, steel, stainless steel, fiber, glass, or other plastics. Styles can range from tapered cylindrical to rectangular and may have an incorporated handle and spout. Pails may have a small opening with a cap, or a open top with a press or crimp-on lid.
Similar or related terms: 5 gallon pail, carboy, jerrycan, bucket

Palletized filler (machine characteristic)
A type of filling machine which can fill containers staged on top of a pallet. The fill nozzle will typically articulate left/right, forwards/backwards, and move up/down to accomodate a large array for containers and placement on the pallet. These generally same a lot of time by allowing the operator to position empty containers on a pallet rather than full containers weight hundreds of pounds.
Similar or related terms: Fill-on-pallet

Particulates (fluid characteristic)
Non-fluid materials suspended within a fluid. These can be solid or semi-solid. Fluid particulates factor into the decisions for pump type, nozzle type, as well as whether filters or strainers are used within the system
Similar or related terms: Pulp

PLC (machine/part/equipment)
An industrial computer which reads the various sensors and inputs in the machine and then is programmed to manage a variety of outputs to control the filling operation.
Similar or related terms: Programmable logic controller, Filling machine computer

Pneumatics (machine/part/equipment)
In a filling system, there may be air-driven components such as nozzles, diving mechanisms, bottle stops, etc. These are typically pneumatic but options do exist for electrically driven mechanisms.

Positive displacement (machine characteristic)
A type of mechanical system for pumping or measuring flowing fluid. This is usually accomplished with by repeatedly enclosing a fixed volume and moving it mechanically through the system. The pumping action is cyclic and can be driven by pistons, screws, gears, rollers, diaphragms or vanes. Examples of a positive displacement pump include gear, vane, diaphragm, and peristaltic pumps
Similar or related terms: PD pump

Pour point (fluid characteristic)
Low-temperature flow indicator for oil-based products, represented as 5°F above the temperature where normal liquid oil-based product is still fluid. This is a significant factor in determining the minimum fluid temperature when selecting a filling system.

Product changeover (process/operation)
Changing a filling system from one fluid to another fluid. Care must be taken to reduce or eliminate contamination if necessary. Usually, a flush and/or air clear purge is performed to remove as much residual fluid as possible prior to introducing the new fluid to the filling system.
Similar or related terms: Changeover

Pump (machine/part/equipment)
In a filling system, fluid is drawn from a supply tank, tote, drum, or pail and pumped through a nozzle to be deposited into a container. Common pumps within filling systems include centrifugal, gear, piston, and peristaltic pumps.

Pump, centrifugal (machine/part/equipment)
A central impeller is spun a high speed, drawing fluid in through the inlet, then the rotational energy casts the fluid out of the pump. Centrifugal pumps are among the fastests types of pump, but are much more sensitive to fluid head and pressure. These pumps are not self priming and should not be run dry,

Pump, gear (machine/part/equipment)
A type of positive displacement pump which has two meshing gears. Gear pumps can produce a very accurate flow rate and you can run the pump for as little or long as needed to fill any virtually any size container. Flow rate will generally increase/decrease as a function of pump motor speed. Gear pumps are well suited for both low and high viscosity. Typically, gear pumps cannot pump fluids with large solids nor should they be run dry for extended periods.
Similar or related terms: Gearpump, servo pump

Pump, peristaltic (machine/part/equipment)
Fluid is pumped via rollers moving along a tube while compressing it. Similar to gear pumps in their versatility, but are specifically for filling smaller volume bottles very accurately. Bottle volumes of 2oz or less are ideal, however larger volumes can be filled if pumping time is not an issue. Peristaltic pumps are typically more economical than gear pumps.

Pump, piston (machine/part/equipment)
Piston pumps operate with piston that moves back and forth most commonly using pneumatics. These filling systems can be efficient at pumping viscous fluids and even pastes, but require more CFM of compressed air to operate continuously. Piston pumps have a narrow range for fill volume, so applications where different bottle sizes need to be filled would need additional piston pump parts, swapping it out between filling runs, to accommodate.

Pump, vane (machine/part/equipment)
A type of positive displacement pump which has sliding vanes on a shaft. As the pump turns, the vanes slide in order to increase and decrease the internal cavities, which then move the fluid through the pump. As with gear pumps, vane pumps can produce a very accurate flow rate, which can be faster than a gear pump. Vane pumps are typically higher cost and are not as robust as gear pumps over the long term.
Similar or related terms: Sliding vane

Purge, air clear (process/operation)
A process done while flushing fluid from a machine for a product changeover. Typically, compressed air is introduced to the fluid hoses in order to assist the pumps in removing the remaining fluid.

Roller conveyor (machine/part/equipment)
A type of conveyor system with powered or unpowered rollers (ie gravity roller conveyor), usually supported on stands and used to transport pails, drums, or totes in a filling system. Typically measured by outside width, roller diameter, and roller center-to-center distance.

Sanitary fitting (machine/part/equipment)
A type of quick release fitting which allows for a complete and sanitary seal between two flanges with a gasket in the middle, help together with a hand-tightened clamp. These can be easily disassembled without tools for maintenance or cleaning. Usually sized by the outer diameter of the tube along with a standard flange coupling size. The most common size in use on Paquip machines is 1" tube OD with a 1.984" flange, 1.5" tube OD with a 1.984" flange, and 2" tube OD with a 2.516" flange.
Similar or related terms: Tri-clamp

Scale (machine/part/equipment)
A component of a weighing system which received signals from one or more load cells, then processes the signal into a weight readout displayed to the user or sent to a PLC for use in a net weight filling system.

Semi-automatic filling (machine characteristic)
Machines which can automatically start and stop filling, but require an operator to manually index containers. These machines are less expensive and better suited for operations with small and medium sized filling runs or processes with many product changeovers and container sizes.
Similar or related terms: Semi auto

Shear stability (fluid characteristic)
In certain fluids, the base fluid or chemicals within the fluid may be comprised of long chemical chains, or polymers. If mixed or pumps too vigorously, these long chains may break causing permanent changes to the fluid's characteristics such as viscosity. Shear-sensitive fluids, such as some industrial lubricants, may use different mixer impellers or pumps designs.
Similar or related terms: Shear stable

Sloshing (fluid characteristic)
Fluid exiting a nozzle at high speed may introduce turbulence within the container, which then may spill out once. This is typically controlled via a "top-off" pump speed and nozzle design. For example, slowing the pump speed as the fluid reaches the desired fill point.
Similar or related terms: Turbulence

Splashing (fluid characteristic)
Fluid exiting a nozzle and dropping into a container may produce droplets of fluid which are ejected from the container. This is typically controlled via careful nozzle selection, pump speed, or from filling beneath the surface of the container as it is filled.

Timed flow filler (machine characteristic)
A filling machine type which fill by a set amount of time to run a pump. This is typically used with fixed flowrate pumps, such as peristaltic or gear pumps, and can produce accurate, repeatable fills.

Top-off (process/operation)
Slowing the pump when fluid is nearing the target fill amount in order to increase accuracy and reduce splashing, sloshing, or foaming

Tote accessories (container characteristic)
Dust caps, valve couplings, vented lids, valve adapters, lid bung accessories, desiccant breathers

Tote parts (container characteristic)
Cage, bottle, base, bottom valve, lid, vent

Tote types (container characteristic)
Commonly called IBC (Intermediate bulk containers), totes can vary in capacity but are generally standardized rectangular containers. The specific design of the base/pallet, cage, and bottle may differ but the outer dimensions will generally conform to the IBC standard. Common sizes are 275g/1000L, 330gal/1250L, and 550gal/2500L and may be constructed from HDPE with a metal cage or as a completely metal tank. Totes typically have a bottom valve (which can vary in design and connection type) and a large top cap opening.
Similar or related terms: IBC tote, IBC bulk containers, intermediate bulk containers

VFD (machine/part/equipment)
An industrial motor driver used as a speed control or soft-start device with 3-phase AC motors. In filling machines, this is commonly used to control pumping speed. An operator can use a dial to set the speed manually or the VFD may receive a signal from a PLC to set the speed.
Similar or related terms: Variable frequency drive, motor driver

Viscosity (fluid characteristic)
A measure of a fluid's resistance to flow. Typically measured in centipoise (cP) or centistokes (cSt), the higher the value the more viscous the fluid. In a filling system, the viscosity of the fluid is an important aspect of system design will determine things like hose sizes, pump type/speed/power, nozzle design, etc. Also note that viscosity changes inversely with temperature, which will have implications for operations working with various fluid temperatures.
Similar or related terms: Visc, cSt, cPs, fluid thickness

Viscosity index (fluid characteristic)
The measure of the rate of change of viscosity with temperature. Heating tends to make fluid thinner; cooling makes them thicker. The higher the viscosity index is on a particular fluid, the less of a change in viscosity there will be over a given temperature range.
Similar or related terms: VI

Volumetric filling (process/operation)
Any filling operation which fills to a specific volume target. For example, a filling machine for 1 gallon containers may used a gear pump set to dispense 128oz of fluid by counting pump rotations. Examples of volumetric fillers are timed flow, overflow, or metered fillers.

Washdown (machine characteristic)
In a filling system, specifically for certain types of food processing, a machine will be cleaned with a high temperature spray or steam with or without various types of cleaning chemicals. The design of the machine should not allow for fluid to enter any unintended areas, nor should it pool in or on the machine. Materials used in the machine's construction should be able to withstand the cleaning process and should not enable bacteria growth. Common materials would be stainless steel, food grade plastics, and epoxy coatings.

Wetted parts (machine characteristic)
In a filling system, any materials which contact the fluid is considered "wetted" by it. The design of a filling system should carefully select wetted components which are compatible with the fluid being pumped.