Filling Machines and Speed

Filling Machines and Speed

Different levels of automation are available on different types of filling machines.  Obviously, automatic filling equipment will produce more filled bottles than semi-automatic equipment.  Semi-automatic equipment will fill faster than manual equipment.  However, many people who inquire about a filling machine are surprised when we cannot simply tell them how many bottles per minute a certain piece of equipment can fill.  That question simply cannot be answered without some specifics of the project to be completed.

Let's assume a packager of an energy drink is looking at the Automatic Overflow Filler on the website.  The standard features of the machine state that it can be manufactured with anywhere from one to sixteen fill heads and a stainless steel frame while controlled by an Allen Bradley PLC and a touchscreen operator interface.  You might be saying, "This is all good and useful information, but nowhere on the page does it tell the SPEED of the machine!"  The truth is that the speeds that may be achieved by the Automatic Overflow Filler can range from a few bottles a minute to over a hundred bottles a minute.  This is generally true of not just the overflow filling machine, but any piece of filling equipment built.  The speed of the filling machines will depend on several other factors of any given project, so that the actual speed of the packaging equipment can be narrowed down and estimated on a case-by-case basis.

Returning to the energy drink, here are a few of the questions that will need to be answered to better pinpoint the machine speed.  First, the number of fill heads on the machine will obviously play a factor.  Sometimes space or even economics will limit the number of fill heads on the filling equipment.  The more fill heads, the more energy drink bottles that will be filled each cycle, thus increasing the number of bottles that can be filled per minute, hour or day.  Both space and economics may also restrict the automation level available on a given project.  As noted above, normally the higher the automation, the greater the speed of the filling machine.   

But probably the largest factor in determining the speed of the filling machine for a given project is the number and size of the bottle (or bottles) to be filled. Sixteen ounce bottles of an energy drink will take longer to fill than a one ounce, shot-type energy drink. So a filling machine for the one ounce bottle will perform faster than a filling machine for a sixteen ounce bottle.  However, the number of bottles and production schedule can also influence speed.  Filling equipment must be changed over to run different bottle sizes.  From adjusting the fill heads and conveyor rails to resetting fill times and indexing times (the latter can usually be done quickly by loading a recipe), constant changeovers will slow down production rates.  Therefore, a filling machine running a single bottle size may be faster than a filling machine used to package eight different sizes of the energy drink.

Finally, when dealing with an automated packaging system, the other packaging equipment - bottle unscramblers, rinsing machines, capping equipment, labeling machinery - must be considered for each project as well.  While the overflow filler used for the energy drink may be capable of filling 100 bottles per minute, the machine will not achieve these speeds if the container cleaning equipment only rinses 30 bottles per minute.  The filling machine is a component of an automated packaging system and can only perform as fast as the slowest component on the packaging line.  Note that there can be exceptions to this rule when filling hot products or accumulating product for any number of reasons after the fill, but to get a true speed for a project, the other packaging equipment should be modified.

Liquid Packaging Solutions uses the experience and knowledge of their veteran staff to ensure that the correct filling machine, with the necessary speed, is used for each packaging project.  If you have questions about packaging systems or individual packaging machines, contact a representative toll free today at 1-888-393-3693.