Dealing with cleaners, chemicals and harsh liquids can require unique equipment or modifications to packaging machinery in order to create an efficient solution for packaging these liquids. The changes to equipment will be seen more in filling machines than any other equipment, simply because the filling machine handles the liquid more than any other piece of equipment.
Flammable liquids are, by definition, easily set on fire. When packaging these liquids, care must be taken to avoid sparks, arcs or other situations that could inadvertently ignite the product. One way to protect against igniting the products is to design and build pneumatic equipment. Pneumatic packaging machinery, including filling machines, remove electricity from the equation by using compressed air to run the machinery. Filling machinery can use compressed air to activate the filling process, dive fill heads and complete other functions that may be necessary to get product in to containers.
Electricity can still be used for flammable products, but precautions will be put in to place to protect against the likelihood of sparks or arcs. Electronic components will be enclosed to create an intrinsically safe machine, and where vapors also cause a danger of igniting, enclosures can also be purged or pressurized.
As noted above, some liquids will produce fumes that can in and of themselves be hazardous. The fumes could be flammable, hazardous to breath or dangerous in a number of other ways. In rare cases, the hazard may not even come from the product but from some other source in the atmosphere. Similar to flammable products, such a construction will include enclosures to protect against igniting product, fumes or vapors, and may include a remote control panel for controlling the equipment as well. When the atmosphere, fumes or vapors create a hazardous environment in general, precautions are also more likely to extend to machines outside of just the liquid filler. The necessary standards for both flammable products and hazardous locations will be determined on a case-by-case basis by analyzing both the products and the production area for each packager.
Finally, many harsh chemicals have corrosive properties. That is to say, they may very well react poorly with stainless steel. This creates a unique situation for NPACK in that nearly all packaging equipment designed and built uses stainless steel as a construction material. When working with corrosive products, the best option for fighting corrosion is to replace the stainless steel construction material and contact parts with an HDPE material. When faced with such a chemical, NPACK will construct conveyors, filling machines and other equipment if necessary in order to extend the useful life and efficiency of the packaging equipment.
Of course, many times packaging projects will overlap the three situations described above, with some aspect of more than one of those categories present. Again, the best equipment, the modifications, the automation level and any other factors for a project will be determined by analyzing the specific needs of each project.