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MiniFill MF-1

The MiniFill range of auger fillers provide precision controlled dosing of small weights and volumes for laboratory, manually presented small container filling applications through to fully automated filling of containers, sachets and stick packs.Up to 15 fillers can be controlled by one control panel, ths is ideal when mounting on multi-lane sachet & stickpack machines.

Round, Tubular or Narrow hopper options are available to suit any type of application.

Check weigher feedback, independent variable speed on both Auger and Stirrer motors, no tools strip down, Servo control resolution better than 1 in 4,000ths of a revolution, and PC link are all standard features included within all MF-I MiniFill machines.

Use of directly coupled advanced specification servo motors gives the optimum control and performance of filling accuracy.

This is especially true in applications where dosing at high speeds when integrated with high-speed sachet or stickpack machines. Here the ‘MF-I MiniFill’ excells above all others. The lack of clutches, brakes, belts and chains eliminates expendable items, and thus reduces maintenance to an absolute minimum.

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Photo Gallery

Please click on the thumbnails below to view images in greater detail:

The dose required is entered via the operator pod, and settings include the ability to optimise auger and stirrer speeds in order to obtain the best performance for individual products. On multi-lane applications, individual control of each auger & stirrer ensures maximum possible accuracy. This provides maximum control over product through each individual filling head and elliminates tha accuracy variations found on multiple heads with common drives supplied by some of the less specialist companies.

All machine parameters for a given product and speed are saved against a unique recipe number, thus providing quick and efficient changeover times from one product to another. All product codes (Recipes) can have fully descriptive titles, and an instant search facility is provided to index through preset recipes in the event of a large number being in use. The memory facility on the standard system allows users to preset a massive 1,024 different recipes, this is far more than would normally be required. All recipe settings are stored to a plugin ‘Flash’ memory card for maximum security of all machine / product data.

A tooling screen is available to the operator at all times, to advise on specific tooling requirements related to each set of product parameters.

When running in volumetric mode, the incredible stopping accuracy is better than 0.09 degrees of the auger rotation! This is achieved by the high specification drive system engineered around advanced servomotor and encoder.

The full colour touch screen control pod is both feature rich & ‘State of the Art’. It is completely sealed against dust and liquids. Much effort & thought has been applied to ensure simple intuitive machine set-up and user friendliness.

Utilising a password protected engineer’s facility, all machines are installed with standard software, with the precise machine configuration being factory set. This provides an excellent basis for customer support, with all control enhancements included at no extra cost, allowing for machine configurations to be changed, should additional equipment be incorporated at a later date. Use of flash memory & provision of PC link connector enables all machines to be easily and speedily upgraded with new functionality offered through our commitment to ongoing development, providing you with the peace of mind that the most advanced filler available today will also be the most advanced filler tomorrow.

All machines are manufactured to a very high standard in 316 stainless steel.

MiniFill auger fillers are high quality, high performance machines for applications where optimum accuracy of small discharges is required with manual & medium to high speed requirements, but still maintaining ease of set-up and user friendliness.

As with all GWA auger filling machines, models are available for both volumetric & weight controlled filling, with fill ranges from a few milligrams to 500g. MiniFill machines are capable of discharge rates of over 100 fills per minute.

MF-I MiniFill’ High performance Servo driven Auger fillers specifically designed for Stickpack & Sachet filling applications where a multiple of dosing heads are required on close centres. Filling heads can be mounted on 80mm centres with configurations available from a single head up to 10 filling heads, all with individual filling adjustment and feed-back facilities, controlled from a single panel. These fillers are aimed at all powder & granular applications requiring very precise & controlled filling at maximum speed.

Features

  • Direct drive system
  • Network facility
  • 1024 Product code memory>
  • Printer option
  • PC connection with flash memory upgrade facility
  • Variable speed auger
  • Colour touch screen operator pod sealed to IP66
  • Ease of maintenance
  • Tooling list display on product change
  • Check-Weigher feed back as standard
  • Independently driven variable speed stirrer
  • Volumetric filling control to 0.09 degrees of auger revolution
  • Will readily interface to other equipment
  • Exceptional quality
  • Full control of product level probe
  • Comprehensive diagnostic reporting

Pillar Mounted

MiniFill pillar mounted auger fillers are readily integrated with other forms of automatic packaging equipment, such as container handling systems, sachet machines, and stickpack machines.

Pillar mounted machines can included height adjustment facility offering 100mm of adjustment. This can be of particular value in installations requiring different discharge datum’s, or where the head has to be raised clear & rotated in order to extract the tooling when used in conjunction with sachet machines.

All interface signals for normal operation are provided including check-weigher feed back.

As with all G Webb Automation auger fillers, interface signals allowing connection to other packaging equipment is included as standard. In the case of MiniFill machines fitted with a weigh platform, a printer output is included providing full, comprehensive statistical reporting of filling data. Facility is also included on all machines to print hard copy reports of product & machine parameters.

Cabinet Mounted

Cabinet mounted machines are available in both volumetric and weight controlled formats. These machines include lockable wheels on base of cabinet allowing the machine to be easily moved from location to location when used for discovery applications.

All controlls are housed within machine cabinet and are fully sealed against dust / liquid ingress.

Product feed system options include fully automatic, semi-automatic & manual infeed chute.

Control system includes statistics display & print facility as well as full networking capability where screen information can be viewed / stored at a remote location.

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Control

All current G Webb Automation machines are now fitted with extremely robust and ‘State of the Art’ touch screens, offering greatly enhanced features & functionality over previous controls. Screens provide graphic representation of machine status, provide full statistics & diagnostic monitoring, and are multi-lingual allowing instant switching between languages. Container presentation systems & filling systems are controlled from a single screen providing maximum system integration. All systems include extensive recipe handling, with capacity for 1024 recipes saved on a compact flash card.

All panels include serial port for printer option and an Ethernet port for network connectivity. Software is available free of charge that allows monitoring of operator screens in real time via network connection, and the optional GWA ‘FillerNet’ application or bespoke software can be provided for complete statistical data collection & analysis / line productivity reporting.

Included within statistics displayed both locally on the machine display is both running & batch results for Average Weight, Standard Deviation, CPk, CPk-, CPk+ and weight analysis.

‘Capability’ statistics (CP, CPk+ & CPk-) is used by many ‘Blue Chip’ companies as a means of measuring and improving performance. G Webb Automation has become the first auger filler manufacturer to make these features available on all of its touch screen filler controls as standard at no extra cost.

The optional ‘FillerNet’ PC software provides a network link to the filling machine, logging all individual discharges, and full statistics of each production run, as well as live graphs illustrating current statistics. This data can subsequently be re-loaded by a ‘FillerNet’ client at any time to review / print raw data, running statistics, and a variety of graphs. Files are saved in ‘csv’ format, and can also be opened by third party applications such as Microsoft Excel for viewing / modeling etc.

GWA also provide utility PC based software allowing users to backup / restore both machine configuration and all recipe data ensuring peace of mind should the unforeseen happen.

GWA software development philosophy is that latest revision is backward compatible, thus allowing customers to be able to benefit from new features as they become available.

Control Feature List

Volumetric fillers;
  • 1024 Recipes (recipe names can consist of full alpha – numeric range)
  • Search facility included within recipe management for companies with a vast array of products
  • Tooling details store within recipe, advising operator of correct tooling requirement on recipe change
  • Batch control
  • Option to monitor & control Matcon IBC bulk feed systems
  • Capability to control peripheral equipment from same screen, i.e. conveyor, indexing turret, etc.
  • Comprehensive diagnostic management
  • Multi-lingual
  • Password & User ID multi-level logon protection for parameter changes
  • Printer option for Recipe & Machine set-up reporting
  • Intelligent check-weigher feed-back link
  • Remote viewing from networked PC
  • Variable speed control of auger
  • Independent variable speed control of stirrer
  • Mimic display of machine status
Gravimetric (Weight controlled) fillers, Including Loss-in-Weight models;
  • All options listed for volumetric only models
  • Recipe selectable volumetric / gravimetric filling modes
  • Auto-tare
  • Container weight option to ensure container is present prior to dosing
  • Display of all weights discharged in previous batch
  • Bar code logging container integrity checking / production traceability
  • Volumetric filling with integrated check-weigher configuration option
  • Container removed option to prevent discharging on top of filled container
  • Comprehensive statistics
  • Display of all weights discharged in current batch

Operation

The lower parallel flights of the auger within the funnel are produced to a constant pitch so that, when filled, each pitch has a precise and consistent volume. The auger drive rotates the auger at a preset speed to produce a continuous flow of product. The actual filling head comprises of the primary elements illustrated below. By moving the mouse pointer over the names below the illustration, elements within the illustration will change colour to identify each particular part.

1. Hopper containing the product to be dosed

2. Auger rotating vertically through the hopper and funnel to discharge product.

3. Funnel from hopper through which the lower section of the auger doses.

4. Scraper blade to assist powder feed by bringing product into the flights of the auger.

5. Auger drive mechanism.

The scraper blade rotates in the opposite direction to the auger and with the exception of the DigiFill range, is independently driven. Its purpose is to prevent any build-up that generally will form when running non-free flowing powders. The scraper blade extends right down to the neck of the funnel, ensuring that the auger flights are fully filled with product, and preventing cavitation (cavities that can other wise form within the product resulting in poor filling accuracy).

operation1

Non-free flowing powders
The auger illustrated is fitted with ‘over-flight’, this can be either a separate detachable component to provide ultimate flexibility, or can be part of the actual auger for dedicated applications.

An over-flight assists the flow of non free flowing products by providing compression into the auger flights, down to the neck of the funnel where the scraper blade feeds the flights of the parallel section of the auger.

Intermediate Powders
With intermediate products, an auger with parallel flights would be normally be selected and no over-flight fitted, as compression could well cause unacceptable damage to the product. These types of product often have the tendency to dribble from the auger once it has stopped and therefore require back pressure to be applied by use of a lip or grid attachment to the bottom of the funnel.

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Free flowing powders
Free-flowing powders require a positive means of cut-off to be fitted to the end of the funnel. This can be in the form of a scissor cut-off unit where two horizontal scissor blades close at the end of the funnel immediately a discharge has completed, or a single / double flap attachment (also fitted to outlet of funnel). Either method ensures a clean cut-off at the end of each discharge and prevents product dribble / seepage when the machine is not it a filling cycle. In general, the flap type cut-off is used when the filling machine is mounted above a bag making machine (form, fill & seal machine), allowing the auger and funnel to be extended down through the bag forming tube, and the scissor cut-off is used in applications where the auger filler is dosing into ready made bags / containers.

Spinner plate & Cowl
An alternative tooling option that usually would be fitted for handling particle type products is the Spinner plate & Cowl illustrated below.

Attached to the end of the auger is a spinner plate (disc), this is a saucer shaped disc designed to retain the product flow. All powders have an angle of repose, the angle at which a collapsing heap of powder will come to rest rather than continue to spread outwards. The angle for small smooth beads would be much greater than, for example, vermicelli. The distance between the bottom of the funnel and the spinner plate (the gap needed to allow unrestricted product flow) is defined by the product dose rate. The spinner plate is sized to prevent the powder dribbling over the rim of the disc once the auger has stopped, taking into account this gap and the powder’s angle of repose. As the spinner plate throws the powder outwards, a simple collection cowl funnels it to a size suitable for the aperture of the container to be filled. The use of a spinner plate results in a perfectly clean fill without the requirement for any additional cut-off devices.

Tooling Size
The size of the auger and funnel is determined by a number of factors: fill weight, discharge rate, accuracy and container neck opening. The smaller the auger/funnel, the slower the discharge rate but greater the accuracy. Conversely, a larger auger delivers more quickly but less accurately. Where a wide range of fill weights are required, more than one auger/funnel set may be supplied to achieve the required combination of speed and accuracy.

spinner_cowl

Drives
Clutch/brake drives offer a combination of high accuracy and torque at a budget price. The down side is that clutch/brake drives require periodic maintenance and have less features relating to epitomized control that is on offer from direct drive alternatives. Direct drive closed loop a.c. motor and servo systems offer the best in terms of technical performance and flexibility, with completely maintenance free heads and a high level of control in terms of acceleration / deceleration and auger speed.

Volumetric Filling
In volumetric filling mode, the auger will rotate a consistent amount each time a discharge takes place and providing that the product being dispensed has a stable bulk density, i.e. a measured volume of product always weighs the same, then accuracy will also remain consistent from discharge to discharge. Volumetric filling machines are often linked up to automatic check-weighers placed down stream of the filler, these can provide a feedback signal that increases / decreases the discharge should the dose weights start deviating due to density fluctuation.

The discharge amount is determined by the number of auger revolutions for a given set of tooling, and can be set / displayed to 1000th of a revolution of EasiFill machines. On ServoFill machines this increases to a control accuracy to 4096th of a revolution. The auger drive motor is fitted with a precision encoder to measure rotation.

Setting up product discharge parameters is a breeze with DigiFill/E, EasiFill and ServoFill machines where an operator simply selects the setup screen, enters the number discharge turns and conducts a sample discharge. The sample discharge is then weighed with the result along with the required weight entered into the system by the operator. The control then calculates and stores the required auger rotation to achieve the required weight.

In applications requiring high speed filling into rigid containers intermittent dosing can be too slow, therefore all G Webb Automation auger fillers can also be operated in a continuos dosing mode. In this instance the auger filling machine would generally be fitted above a rotary container handling machine (RP125/RP760/RP1400 Rotoplant). Here containers are transferred via scroll into an infeed star-wheel and subsequently into a continuously rotating turret. The turret is effectively a carousel with a number of pockets, each of which are fitted with an overflow chute with a precision machined splitter ring above. The turret speed is set to the required line speed and the auger rotation speed adjusted to achieve the correct amount of product per container, the auger will continue to discharge all of the time that the turret is rotating with containers present. The precision splitter ring divides the actual dose into equal portions as the turret rotates, and a vibratory track fitted beneath the containers applies vibration through the container and overflow chute above to settle the product within the container prior to it exiting the turret. A Check-weigher can be integrated down stream to provide density correction, and in this case increase / decrease the auger speed. Filling speed in excess of 300 containers per minute can be achieved on continuos dosing systems.

Weigh Filling (Gravimetric)
Weigh filling machines operate by dynamically weighing the product as it enters the bag / container during actual discharge. These machines are suitable for discharge weights ranging from a few grams up to as much as 50Kg and are used for the following reasons;

1. Product has inconsistent density and therefore is not suitable for volumetric filling.
2. Requirement for filling machine to provide printed reports / statistics on fill performance.
3. Expensive product where product giveaway must be minimized.

Manual Presentation Systems.
The basic weight controlled auger filler usually is fitted with either a bag support or container platform, that is fitted with a precision loadcell. In the case of systems with a bag support platform, an automatic bag gripper can be included to secure the bag in place during the filling cycle.

On commencing a fill, the system will tare off the bag / container weight and then discharge until the required weight has been achieved. The auger runs for the first part of the fill cycle at a fast speed changing to a slower speed for the final part of the fill. Both fast and slow auger speeds are user configurable as is the speed change set-point.

‘Product-in-flight’, the amount of product between the end of the auger when stopping and the product already in the bag / container is automatically measured at the end of the filling cycle, and is then taken into account by the system adjusting it’s cut-off point to ensure that the correct amount of product is dispensed each time.

Semiautomatic / Fully automatic systems.
A weighcell can be placed within conveying systems directly under the filling head operating in exactly the same way as when filling manually. It is possible to tare weigh the empty containers prior to dosing to achieve true nett weight filling. For an increase in speed, moving the weighcell downstream and filling volumetrically with feedback can be considered, with upstream tare weigh cell as required. This system configuration is subject to product density fluctuations not being erratic.

Bulk Fill & Top-up Systems
Another alternative is the ‘Bulk fill & Top-up’ system configuration with two filling heads. In this instance the container is transferred beneath the first auger filler that discharges volumetrically approximately 80% of the required weight, optional container vibration can be used at this station to assist settling the product if required, the container is then transferred beneath the second filler where it is lifted clear of the conveyor belt by a grid mounted on a weighcell. The second filler then discharges the final 20% fill via a smaller auger under direct control of the weighcell, thus maintaining overall accuracy regardless of density variations. The system is optimized so that both filling operations take the same overall time, thus providing maximum line speed.

Program Forward Systems
For even greater speed and accuracy, the weighcell can be moved between the two filling heads turning it into a bulk fill, program forward & top-up system. This offers the speed of large auger bulk fill together with the accuracy of program forward and volumetrically filling the top-up with a smaller auger. In this case the weighcell between the filling heads feeds back to the bulk filling head to maintain the proportion of the bulk fill as well as feeding forward the individual discharges required once the container arrives at the top-up filler. A second weighcell is required downstream of the top-up head which provides density check & correction feedback to the top-up filler, can display and produce hard copy reports of filling statistics, and also police the line by rejecting any out of tolerance weights. A tare weigh station can be added prior to the bulk filling head if required when filling containers with an irregular tare weight, a good example of this would be glass jars which tend to vary in weight significantly.

Tooling

A broad range of tooling is available for GWA auger fillers to enable clean and accurate dosing of a vast array of different products, from free flowing to difficult fatty products / products with varying particle sizes and densities. Auger filler tooling includes;

  • Standard short length auger s & funnels
  • Long length augers & funnels specifically for form, fill & seal applications
  • Detachable over-flights for fitting to augers
  • Detachable Grids & Lips attachments for fitting to bottoms of funnels
  • Detachable Compression nozzles for fitting to bottom of funnels
  • Single / double flap cut-off arrangements for bottom of funnels
  • Detachable Scissor cut-off units for fitting to bottom of funnels
  • Detachable Bomb-door cut-off units for fitting to bottom of funnels
  • Stirrers / scrapers for product agitation within auger filler hoppers

Whatever your product/s & filling requirements, you can rest assured that GWA will be able to provide you with the optimum tooling to get the very best results possible from any auger filler supplied by ourselves.

We have a dedicated test facility with a huge array of tooling with which we will conduct comprehensive filling trials within your presence, and supply detailed reports of exactly what accuracies and discharge times can be achieved.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take to carry out a product change?

The funnel unscrews from the bottom of the hopper allowing the auger to be unplugged. The hopper then detaches by releasing four sprung catches. A brush can then be used to remove any residual product from stirrer / scraper, auger chuck & shaft and inside of hopper prior to re-assembly with alternate tooling. The whole operation should take no more than two or three minutes.

Are there any special procedures to ensure that the hopper is correctly aligned after removal?

None at all! The hopper is self-aligning via seal in hopper top plate.

What accuracy can I expect to achieve?

Accuracy will be dependent on various factors such as product characteristics, size of fill, size of tooling, bulk feed system, etc.. We would generally expect to achieve an accuracy of better than +/- 1% for volumetric filling applications, and better than +/- 0.25% for gravimetric (weight controlled) applications.

Should I choose Volumetric or Gravimetric controlled filling?

If your product bulk density is not consistent, then you should use a gravimetric auger filler if good accuracy is required. Products with a stable bulk density can be dosed volumetrically and produce high accuracy. For discharge weights above 2.5Kg, we would generally recommend gravimetric filling as a matter of course to achieve optimum results.

What is the filling range of a standard auger filler?

The discharge range is totally dependent on the tooling fitted and bulk feed system employed. All of our auger fillers can dose fill weights ranging from milligrams up to fill weights in excess of 25Kg.

My product is particularly free flowing; will I have a problem with product dribble between filling cycles?

No! G Webb Automation has a wealth of knowledge and experience of all types of powder & granular products, and can offer a range of solutions to ensure filling is clean, accurate and trouble free.

I already have an existing G Webb Automation auger filler but it is either an older model than those currently listed, or a different model to the filler I would like to purchase. Can any of my existing tooling be used on the filler I now wish to purchase?

Yes! You can use any tooling from any previous G Webb Automation auger filler with any current model including large capacity hopper models, as long as the auger diameter is no more than three inches / 75mm.

Which type of auger filler range is most suitable for my needs?

The DigiFill is suitable for all dosing applications where speed is less than eighty discharges per minute. However if your application is for a gravimetric filler, then we would recommend selecting the EasiFill model due to the much enhanced feature set for only a small cost increase. The appeal for the DigiFill is simplicity of operation & maintenance, and for applications on a tight budget.

The EasiFill is suitable for all filling applications where requirements are up to one hundred and twenty discharges per minute, and in the case of gravimetric filling will provide far greater flexibility over the DigiFill. The advantages of the EasiFill over the DigiFill are direct variable speed auger drive with independent stirrer drive, and total lack of maintenance.

The ServoFill is suitable for all filling operations, be it low speed manual presentation or high speed volumetric dosing at speeds in excess of two hundred fills per minute. The ServoFill range of fillers includes all of the benefits offered by EasiFill machines, but provides a far greater performance for higher speed applications and absolute accuracy.

I wish to purchase a powder filler to incorporate into a new / existing packaging line. Is it possible to provide the necessary synchronisation signals for discharge call & discharge done?

Yes! All synchronisation is included within the control system with each model and is fully configurable within the machine parameters. This is included as standard on all GWA auger fillers, and NOT at an extra cost as seen by other manufacturers.

I wish to attach a printer to record filling results, is this possible?

Yes! With the exception of the most basic DigiFill control, all other control options include a fully configurable printer facility. On gravimetric machines this can be set to print statistical reports on filling results, and on all machines whether volumetric or gravimetric, there is a facility to print the product code & machine parameters.

Can I attach a computer to the filling machine for logging filling data?

Yes! All machines with exception to the most basic DigiFill control incorporate a computer link facility. G Webb Automation can provide as a NO COST item, an ‘Active X’ programme that can be installed on any windows based PC system. Data can then be read / sent between the filling machine and PC via programmes such as Microsoft Access / Microsoft Excel, ‘GWA Fillernet’ or a bespoke programme specially written to meet your needs. This can be supplied by GWA, or produced by yourself with our assistance.

I already own older G Webb Automation auger filler/s, is it possible to upgrade the control system on my machine/s to provide me with the increased functionality / compatibility of that fitted to the current machines?

Yes! There is an upgrade kit that will provide you with the same control fitted to current machines. If your existing machine is volumetric only, this option will also allow you to add gravimetric control for little extra cost.