Filling Machines and Factors for Speed
One of the main benefits of adding automation to the filling process is the ability to fill more bottles over a shorter period of time. Many first-time packagers start their request for information on filling equipment by asking how fast, or how many bottles per minute, a filling machine will fill. But before this question can be answered, LPS, or any other manufacturer, needs some additional information from the packager!
Calculating bottles per minute for a filling machine is a fairly simple formula. Each fill cycle will include a certain number of bottles. The cycle time will include the time it takes those bottles to index in and out of the machine as well as the time taken to fill the bottles. So if a machine fills 8 bottles at a time, and each cycle takes ten seconds, the machine will fill eighty bottles per minute. But cycle and fill times will vary for different bottles and products, respectively.
For instance, a sixteen-ounce bottle will fill faster than a gallon container receiving the same product simply because the former will require more liquid to fill. Fill times for a sixteen ounce bottle may be 5 seconds but for gallon containers may be closer to fifteen seconds. Similarly, free-flowing products will typically fill faster than thick or viscous products.
Cycle time will also vary depending on the containers. A sixteen-ounce bottle may have a three inch diameter, whereas a gallon container may be closer to ten inches or more depending on the container type and shape. Indexing eight sixteen-ounce bottles will move the container twenty-four inches, while indexing eight gallon containers may require the conveyor to move eighty inches to put bottles in the correct position. The longer the conveyor must move to index containers, the longer the fill cycle will take, affecting the speed of the filling machine.
Therefore, to somewhat accurately estimate the speed of a filling machine, the manufacturer needs to know the size and shape of the container as well as the product or products being run by the machine! While there will often be other factors to consider, knowing these two factors will help the packager know how many bottles they are likely to fill over a minute, hour, day or any other period of time.
Communication between the packager and the manufacturing of filling machines or any other packaging equipment is crucial to ensuring that machinery performs as expected and needed. At LPS, we strive to be a partner for all of our packagers before automation, during the setup period and long after the equipment is up and running. To learn more about LPS or any of the equipment manufactured at the LaPorte, Indiana plant, contact a Packaging Specialist today at 1-219-393-3600.