Filling Machines: Figuring Out Your Bottles Per Minute Need

Bottles per minute (BPM) is a common measure for determining how fast a filling machine can actually fill bottles. The measurement is a simple equation, with a few variables. For automatic machinery, it can be determined by the number of fill heads times the number of cycles run per minute. As an example, we can analyze an eight head filling machine.

The first variable is simple, the filling machine has eight heads. The second variable is slightly more complicated, as each fill cycle will include not just fill time, but also other duration and delay times, which will be different for each filling machine. On our eight head machine, we will include indexing time, fill head dive time, and actual fill time. Imagine that it takes six seconds for bottles to index into the fill area, 3 seconds for fill heads to dive into the bottles and six seconds to actually fill the bottles with product. The cycle itself will last 15 seconds, meaning that in one minute exactly four cycles will run on the machine. Eight fill heads times 4 cycles gives us the actual bottles per minute filled by the machine, or 32 bpm.

Understanding this equation helps to allow a packager and Liquid Packaging Solutions to identify the correct speeds for their own filling machine. For example, if a packager needs to prepare 16,000 bottles of product per day in an eight hour day, the filling machine would need to run 2,000 bottles per hour or just about 34 bottles per minute (16,000/8/60 = 33.3 bpm). Once the necessary speed is determined, product viscosity, bottle size and other factors must also be considered to find the right machine for the project. For packagers using a fully automated line, the speed of other equipment such as cappers and labelers, must also be taken into account when determining the bpm for the line as a whole.

Of course, not all packagers require automatic machinery. For those with lower production demands, semi-automatic or tabletop equipment may be a better choice. While the same equation can help determine the bpm on semi-automatic fillers, there is one more factor that makes it more difficult to determine bpm. Semi-automatic filling machines require an operator to assist with each cycle that is run on the machine. This means the operator will place bottles and activate the fill. Once filled, the operator must remove the bottles as well. The speed of the operator will help determine the bpm, so that actual speeds can only be estimated on semi-automatic machinery.

Whether preparing a few hundred of bottles a day or thousands of bottles an hour, LPS filling machinery can help packagers prepare product both efficiently and reliably. Contact a Packaging Specialist at LPS today to learn more about all of options available for liquid filling.