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Gravity vs. Volumetric

Palmetto Coast

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There are two types of thoughts on the filling process for spirits. The most typical filling application for spirits is called overflow. Overflow filling fills to a mechanical or visual fill level and has nothing to do with the actual volume of the container. This is the most common because lots of spirits are filled in glass containers which can vary greatly on their interior volume due to the imperfection of glass manufacturing. That's why all the fill levels look identical on the retail shelf. The spirits manufacturer / filling department will do an analysis of the volume variation in the containers and find the lowest interior volume, fill that container to the reported level (750ml) and then match the mechanical or visual fill level on the other nozzles. Most bottles will be slightly overfilled but none will be under filled.

Volumetric filling means a specific volume will be placed into the container. This is fine if the consumer can't see the liquid inside or they are filling in plastic which is much more consistent. The upside is there are no over or under fills. The down side is the visual fill volumes are all over the place.

If you are filling the same consistent container or can't see the fill level then you can go with volumetric. If you are filling anything where the consumer can see the liquid level then overflow is better.

There is one small segment that isn't exactly overflow but still fills to a mechanical or visual fill level and that's siphon filling. It is a very inexpensive and low tech way of filling. The fill level is set by adjusting the depth of the nozzle in the container and the product is literally siphoned into the container from a gravity tank through the nozzle into the container. The result is the same as overflow filling - an identical visual fill level - but not volume.

Gravity filling has nothing to do with filling principle - it's basically what type of pressure gets the liquid into the container. You can provide this pressure using gravity, vacuum, or pump. Gravity fillers are commonly used in older technology fillers because it was one less explosion proof or hazardous location motor that had to be purchased for a pump delivery system. Today there are pneumatic pumps that work quite well and EXP motors are not as expensive as they once were.

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