Hot Fill Bottling Machines: A Complete Guide on Hot-fill Process

According to a report, the beverage industry is projected to reach over 211,000 million USD in revenue by the end of 2021. The market value is expected to show an annual growth rate of 13.89% up to 2025. Such forecasts make the beverage industry increasingly appealing to new investors. 

Following the development of the beverage industry, the way to preserve and types of packaging has seen a wider diversification. Nowadays, we can find many different shapes, materials, and sizes of bottles parallel to advanced filling technologies. Among various methods, hot fill is one of the primary ways to protect and extend beverages’ shelf life. Hot filling is outstanding by its optimization and competitive advantages in processing.

In this article, we will introduce you to hot filling. We will discuss hot fill applications, working process, main advantages, and our new hot filling solutions. By the end of this article, you will be able to make a more informed choice of whether hot fill is an interesting business opportunity for you. Let us take a look!

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Introduction to hot fill method

Hot filling is a packaging process utilized extensively in the modern food and beverages industry. It is defined by heating the product to 194 degrees Fahrenheit to remove harmful bacteria. Then, the fluid is filled into the containers and subsequently sealed. 

Not all kinds of beverages are suited to be processed through the hot filling. Generally, hot fill is used for non-alcoholic drinks, including:

  • Nectars
  • Juices
  • Flavored waters
  • Tea
  • Soups
  • Milk
  • Coffee
  • Sports drinks

As for the containers, most manufacturers can provide diversified options for the hot filling process.

  • PET
  • NFCs
  • HDPE
  • Jars
  • Glass bottles

Among the various types, PET bottles are considered the most popular containers for hot fill. Besides a more reasonable price compared with their counterparts, PET bottles are especially suitable to withstand the heat without becoming deformed or collapsing. Finally, PET containers are well suited to protect the fluid inside from external agents. 

How does the hot filling process work

The hot filling process is a complex process and may differ based on your equipment setup. In general, the hot filling can be divided into four main steps, including:

  1. Heating the substance
  2. Placing the fluid into different containers
  3. Sealing the containers
  4. Cooling the beverage 

The first step is heating up to 194 degrees Fahrenheit the beverage for at least 15 seconds. This stage removes the harmful microorganisms from the products, preventing bacterial development. 

During the second step, the hot fluid is properly filled into containers of different sizes or shapes. 

In the next stage, the bottle containers will be capped firmly and sterilized. Here, the temperature is maintained at around 82-85 degrees Celsius for roughly three minutes. When the packaging is completed, the bottles usually go through a cooling tunnel to minimize the thermal degradation of the drinks. Ultimately, the containers are collected and stored for shipment.

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Hot filling advantages

The hot filling has many advantages both for manufactures and for end customers. 

Increasing beverages shelf life

Removing bacterias and microorganisms that contaminate the drinks effectively improves the product’s shelf life. This benefit is achieved during the heating and sterilization of bottles and caps. Ultimately, the process profits both manufacturers, delivery companies, and buyers. 

Boost customer trust in your product safety

Hot filling preserves the beverage at high-temperature sterilization. As a result, there is no need to add artificial additives and harmful preservatives. The customer can rest assured about the product quality. 

Better taste and healthier drinks

As mentioned above, the hot filling can naturally protect the beverage integrity by reducing external impacts. For instance, drink nutrients, as well as the original taste, are fully preserved. As a result, customers enjoy more drinking beverages that benefit their health. 

Benefits connected to PET containers

Since the hot filling process is mainly used with PET bottle containers, manufacturers can exploit the material advantages. PET bottles are light in weight and easier to transport and deliver. Approximately PET can save up to 30% of shipping costs compared to glass. In addition, PET is completely recyclable, and the purchase costs are more affordable than other materials. 

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Tech-long hot filling solution

At Tech-Long, we have developed three distinct hot filling solutions to accommodate all clients’ needs. Our hot fill bottling machine revolves around three main filling methods: mechanical valve filling, flow meter filling, and weight filling. All our solutions are designed for safety control and flexible filling technology. 

Mechanical Valve Filling

The mechanical valve filling is characterized by different lengths of vent tubes to control fill levels. Like other methods, it can be used for PET, glass, and aluminum bottles, producing around 60000 PPH. Such a solution guarantee low CAPEX and low operating cost.

Flow Meter Filling

The flow meter filling provides for extremely accurate fill level control. The optimal flow path in filling valves ensures complete CIP and easy maintenance. The result is higher hygiene and increased filling accuracy. 

 Weigh Filling

On the other hand, the weight filling is defined by an online weighing instrument to control the filling accuracy. The design allows for contactless filling, thus enhancing the hygiene even further. Overall, the weight filling is an optimal solution for different sizes of bottles and large-size container filling. 

All our solutions have been designed with a purpose in mind, your company’s success.

Hopefully, this article helped you to better understand the hot filling process. 

Contact us to know more about how hot fill bottling machines can enhance your business.