A subject that has been broached more than once on the NPACK' website is the speed with which filling machines can prepare bottles for the shelf, most often measured in bottles per minute. As noted before, the simple question of how fast is the automatic filling machine cannot be answered without some additional information. Here we present an example to highlight the correct way to answer such a question.
Let's imagine a packager is looking for a four-head filling machine and asks the question of how many bottles per minute the equipment will produce. There are several key pieces of information missing here that are necessary to accurately answer the question. First, does this packager intend to run production automatically or are they looking for a more semi-automatic, operator driven solution?
Semi-automatic filling solutions will require an operator to place four bottles under the nozzles and and activate each fill cycle. The speed of such equipment will rely in large part on how quickly the operator of the machine performs. Automatic machinery typically uses a conveyor and indexing system which not only increases speed but does not require operator assistance with each cycle, allowing for a more accurate estimate of speed. Still, even with the automation level, the question of speed cannot yet be answered accurately.
The second piece of information necessary to accurately estimate bottle per minute speed of a filling machine is the actual product or products that will be filled! Liquids range in viscosity from thin and free-flowing to thick and slow moving. Other product traits, such as liquids that foam, may change speed estimates as well. The viscosity and other characteristics of the products being filled will help to determine the correct filling machine for a project which will ultimately effect the speed of the process.
Finally, a very important aspect when determining machine speed is the size of the bottle or bottles that will be run on the liquid filler. Obviously, a four-head machine will fill four sixteen ounce bottles faster than it will fill four gallon containers, as each gallon container requires eight times more liquid than the sixteen ounce counterpart! The size of the bottles will help determine how many cycles the machine will likely run per minute, which in turn will give a fairly accurate reading of how many bottles will be produced per minute when combined with the other information above. Again, as an example, if a four-head filler can run 6 cycles of sixteen ounce bottles every minute, the machine can be expected to run about twenty-four bottles per minute.
With these three pieces of information, a pretty good estimate of machine speed can be made, keeping in mind that there is really no way to predict operator speed on semi-automatic machinery. As a packager, if you are offered an estimate of bottle filler speed without these key data points being discussed, ask further questions on your own to ensure the machine is correct for you and avoid surprises when the equipment hits the production floor!
For more information on bottle speed or to discuss the best filling machine solutions for your own project, contact NPACK today!