Video - Why Butler Automatic Joined The Contract Packaging Association

With more than 2,000 automatic roll splicing solutions on packaging applications, Butler Automatic is the leader in providing OEE solutions for many co-packers, increasing their overall factory output.

According to the 2019 Flexible Packaging Assessment report conducted by PMMI, one VP of Engineering at a global food company noted that “To get us to invest in new machines, we would need the machines to be more flexible and easier to change over. For instance, not having to turn off the equipment to make a film change and allowing us to change it and splice it in would be a huge time saver. That right there would make us consider buying new equipment.” Butler Automatic roll splicers eliminate roll change downtime, automatically splicing without stopping the process.

Butler Automatic is proud to be included in this Contract Packaging and Manufacturers Association video. An associate CPA member, Butler works with 50+ packaging machine builders and 100s of end users to correctly configure automatic roll splicing solutions for flexible packaging applications.

Lean Manufacturing at Butler Automatic: How it is Benefiting Customers

By John Gonsalves - Purchasing and Aftermarket Parts Manager

Updated April 30th, 2019

Lean manufacturing is defined as a set of management practices intended to improve efficiency and effectiveness by eliminating waste. By creating an external provider system which helps the company reduce and eliminate non-value adding activities and waste, Butler Automatic has exhibited sustained success with ongoing lean manufacturing improvements.

Analogous to what one often hears about sports teams, Butler Automatic, relies on its sourcing initiatives and performance system for external providers to find “franchise players.” These are providers who are continuously improving, so they can provide a safety net for changing customer requirements. This helps the company stay competitive in the global marketplace.

Using the external provider system to find franchise players  

In some areas, long-term partnerships and agreements are critical. Like most franchise players, it may be unrealistic to expect external providers to be the best players forever. They can “go into a slump” or their performance can change due to a variety of factors that arise in the fast-changing manufacturing environment. 

Scouting doesn’t mean mistreating the star players, but it does mean always looking out for the best interests of the company. And, a bit of extra competition usually does not hurt. While most companies have their “key providers,” scouting permits a focus on building up the weaker ones. The goal is to constantly upgrade external provider talent to build a stronger organization, just like any scout would want to build a strong team. Lead times are short and customer demands are high, so one must always be scouting. A contingency plan or “backup bench players” can fill in when the key suppliers may be constrained.

Purchasing and material control can play a key role in the success of lean manufacturing processes. Implementation of an external provider performance system is key to ensuring the continuous improvement which lean manufacturing requires. The program features a rigorous and comprehensive supplier scorecard and periodic audits. With a focus on coaching and training, this system helps to improve manufacturing operations and on-time delivery.

The performance measurement program is similar to the analytics department or on-staff analytics expert that every major professional sports team now has. Like scouting, external provider sourcing takes a great deal of time. Monitoring their performance is the only way to do that job effectively.

How has using the external provider system benefited our customers?

After several years of implementing a lean manufacturing structure and identifying a successful external provider system, Butler Automatic has been able to define many long-term partnerships and agreements with suppliers. These franchise players have helped Butler Automatic eliminate wastes that include defects in products, excessive inventory, transportation pollution, overproduction, loss of workers, excess motion for workers, and excessive waiting time for customers.

Eliminating these seven wastes, building a successful external provider system, and having backup bench suppliers on deck has brought added value to our customers in many tangible ways. One of the most positive improvements has been a reduction in spare parts line fill rate waiting time. Used as a practical metric for measuring order fulfillment performance, the term ‘line’ refers to a line on the order. A typical delivery or shipment manifest will display the name of each ordered product or item in its own line. For example, if a customer orders ten different parts, the order will have ten lines. Each line displays one of the ten products and the ordered quantity of that product. A direct result of the reduction in line fill rate, Butler’s customers have seen their parts orders ship more quickly. In 2018, 80% of all SP1 parts orders shipped on the same day that they were ordered. 

Developing methods to measure supplier performance

Continuous improvement is a central tenet of lean manufacturing. Companies should focus a portion of their continuous improvement initiatives on the supply chain process for the key parts that go into the manufacturing process. Developing methods to measure suppliers’ performance would form the foundation of Butler’s initiative.

Performance measurement was by no means envisioned as an adversarial activity. Instead, working together to understand strengths and weaknesses is an attempt to understand suppliers’ problems and partner with them to develop solutions that benefit both parties.

The system involves gathering facts and performance information from Butler’s enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, including prices and on-time delivery. An outgrowth of the desire to measure supplier performance was a new understanding of the importance of giving suppliers precise, factual and accurate data on purchase orders. The desire to hold the providers accountable led to better internal departmental information on the manufacturer’s end.

The system measures performance with regard to delivery, quality and supply chain management.

Delivery is more or less a straightforward assessment of on-time delivery, and is measured based on the specific supplier’s delivery policy.

Quality measurements contain several elements. Did the supplier ship 10 parts and all 10 are good, or did they ship 100 parts, 10 of which are bad, causing disruption to the customer or manufacturing process? Incoming parts go directly to the manufacturing cell, so any problems are picked up on the shop floor. If the purchasing agent must be called out to the assembly floor because a part does not work or does not fit, or if there is any other question about the part, this causes a disruption that will be measured and factored into the performance evaluation. In other words, the performance system uses a definition of quality that includes the ability to trust that the suppliers’ parts are correct.

The quality measurement also considers whether the packing list/invoice were completely accurate to the information on the purchase order. For example, is the price exactly as noted on the invoice? If it doesn’t match, the accounts payable personnel have to obtain approval, which could slow down the manufacturing process. This falls under the sub-category administration-“perfect order.”

Supply chain management is based on price/cost, lead time and business practices. Price and cost includes terms on the PO and pricing stability. Lead time is based on the current market lead time. The business practice element may be the most important. It includes open communication, honesty, integrity and responsibility.

Capturing performance in a scorecard

The performance elements listed are captured in a scorecard, which is basically a report card that is sent to suppliers twice a year. Some elements are based strictly on data retrieved from Butler’s ERP system, while others are more subjective evaluations on how the particular element affects the business.

This scorecard was developed based on research into similar performance evaluations, and then tailored to Butler Automatic’s specific needs. The format was developed as a group effort, with the support and input from the entire management team, including the engineering manager and the director of finance and administration.

The scorecard is sent to the external providers and discussed during twice-yearly audits. The goal is to help both companies improve; the information sent is designed to actually make their job easier. It results in an overall rating, which is a weighted average of the scores achieved in each category. Unacceptable performance means action is required; marginal performance means investigation is needed; acceptable performance means the supplier meets most standards; while the preferred provider status is reserved for those achieving the highest scores. The scorecard creates a conversation in terms of how both parties can improve.

When the program started, the data available was not accurate enough to use for performance tracking. Over time, it has been revised to do so. For example, an acknowledgement step was added to the purchasing cycle. External providers now acknowledge their explicit agreement with certain data elements and understand that they will be measured on them. They get the PO, review it and update it with actual dates to ensure that the PO agrees with promised delivery dates. The acknowledgement can be either a formal computerized document or just a simple email saying that the dates look fine. The purchasing department then stores that PO acknowledgement in Butler’s ERP system.

Communication and feedback is another important factor. For example, if the PO has a delivery date of Nov. 1 and a supplier says that the order will arrive on Nov. 3, the records have to be updated and the supplier’s performance in that area is not affected. If the supplier does not communicate that the delivery will be late, their score will be reduced.

The providers that stand out usually welcome the designation and are pleased to receive kudos for performance. As noted, the process is specifically designed not to be adversarial. If an external provider continues with poor performance, they may be dropped from use, but help is offered to those who are struggling.

Results of the audits are shared monthly in a presentation to the entire Butler Automatic manufacturing team. The company measures monthly on-time performance as part of its continuous improvement initiatives; supplier performance has a direct result on the assembly floor and also effects on-time delivery. As a result of the monthly meetings, the entire company is always aware of how specific external providers are affecting on-time performance. The information is also important to the team working on the company’s ISO 9001 certification.

Performance program includes coaching and training

The goal is to get the scorecard viewed by the highest level of the company’s organization, so it becomes a part of the contractual agreement.

Since the program was established five years ago, coaching and training has become one of its main focuses. Rather than trying to hold providers’ hands to the fire, the scorecard is used to improve processes of both parties.

Another instance of developing under administration/business practice, the addition of a new element called value-add or innovation is being considered. This reflects the desire to deal with external providers who are innovative – those who come up with a better way to make things, or who look at blueprints and tell us what we could do to help them make our parts easier. Other examples of innovations include installing a new ERP or computer system to streamline operations and better meet needs.

Continuous improvement is just that – continuously striving for excellence and determining where improvements should be implemented. Lean manufacturing waste reductions directly benefit customers, suppliers and the environment. Pleased with the principles that have been integrated thus far, Butler Automatic will continue to focus on furthering lean manufacturing values throughout all areas of the business.

Eliminating these wastes has brought added value to our customers in many tangible ways.

Eliminating these wastes has brought added value to our customers in many tangible ways.

Butler Automatic will be exhibiting at the Global Pouch Forum June 11-13 2019

The flexible packaging industry (especially pouching) is experiencing fast, worldwide growth, with manufacturers seeing a shift in products transitioning to flexible packaging where it has not been used before. Butler Automatic builds automatic roll splicers for packaging applications. Butler splicers eliminate roll change downtime, which is the largest contributor to bagging and pouching line output loss. Visit Butler Automatic in booth #47 at the Global Pouch Forum, June 11-13th to learn how an automatic splicing solution can improve overall factory output for your application.

Butler Automatic Global Pouch Forum Tradeshow 2019

Bob Hamilton and Dave Foskett - United States Contacts

As a leader in providing OEE improvements for the North American packaging industry through automatic roll splicing, Butler Automatic covers the U.S. market with industry veterans Robert (Bob) Hamilton and David Foskett.

Contact Bob or David (their coverage areas are below) to learn how Butler can improve your overall factory output. 

How Butler Automatic uses metrics to help our customers increase the output of their packaging lines

By Chip Johns, CEO

Butler Automatic builds automatic roll splicers for packaging applications. Butler splicers eliminate roll change downtime, which is the largest contributor to bagging, pouching, or thermoform line output loss. 

Our job is to deliver a new machine to our customer on time, facilitate a vertical start up, and ensure the machine serves our customer for many years in continuous operation with minimal maintenance. Butler uses several standard operational metrics to constantly improve our ability to execute on the mission stated above. It is critical to not just measure our performance, but also analyze variances from our performance to improve performance over time.

Chip Johns Butler Automatic CEO

Butler measures simple things like on time delivery, first time installation success, and parts shipping turn-around times. These are important “final” metrics. But it is also important to go a little deeper on the customer side by measuring whether Butler solutions are operating as the customer expects, 6 and 12 weeks after installation. Butler monitors our after-market business by measuring our time to ship parts orders (80% of our packaging splicer parts orders are shipped on the same day that we receive the order). On the engineering side, we measure how long it takes to release a set of specifications, how many engineering changes are made (ECOs) and the cause of those changes. Our measurements apply on the financial side as well. We measure our vendor payment days, customer collections, and we produce our financial results within one or two days of the end of each month. We try to measure everything that will contribute to a successful delivery, installation, integration, and long-term performance in the field. 

How does this data help us deliver better machines, on time to our customers? Having this data allows us to run our business better. If we can run all aspects of our business better, Butler, our vendors, employees, and technical partners will all be able to support our customers when needed.

Measuring the data is not what provides the results. Looking at the variances from the expected results, analyzing those variances, continuously improving processes and checking the results of those process changes are what provide the results. At Butler Automatic we are measuring our results and continuously tweaking our processes to design, build and support better solutions for our customers.

Chip Johns is the CEO of Butler Automatic. He has spent the last 7 years leading Butler Automatic and learning about the packaging industry. Prior to Butler, Chip built a business in the marine industry building about 50% of all the sailboats in North America.

Safety and Butler Automatic

Butler Automatic had a company-wide pizza party this week to celebrate two years without any lost time workplace accidents. Safety in our workplace, much like safe operation of Butler Automatic splicing solutions on our customers’ production lines, is a top priority.  

Contract Packaging and Butler Automatic

Contract Packaging in North America will be a $75 billion industry in 2020. A CPA associate member, Butler provides automatic roll splicing solutions to many co-packers, increasing their overall factory output.

Butler Automatic Introduces SP1 Automatic Splicer Ease of Use Enhancements

Middleboro, MA – Butler, the leader in providing OEE improvements for the packaging industry through automatic splicing, introduces several design improvements and features for the 2019 SP1 Automatic Roll splicer. The ease of use design improvements include new HMI graphics, air intake and splice prepared monitoring, web break detection and web stop, omni-directional adjustable brackets for core sensors, adjustable, integrated exit idlers, base mounted automatic web alignment, sealed stainless steel roller bearings, and a more robust mainframe nip assembly.

These improvements were designed and implemented in order to make the operator/machine interaction simpler, reduce training and maintenance time, and improve OEE (Overall Equipment Effectiveness) in our end user’s packaging lines. The new HMI graphics include enhanced visual feedback on the process and recovery instructions making operation and problem recovery easier. The web break detection, air and splice monitoring reduce operator error caused downtime. The sealed stainless steel bearings last longer, thus reducing maintenance time.

Mike Mucci, Vice President of Engineering, states that these product improvements “are the result of listening to our customers and Butler Automatic’s drive to design, deliver and support automatic roll splicing solutions which are easy to use, reliable, and perform consistently.”

With more than two thousand SP1 splicers installed on packaging lines globally, Butler Automatic is a trusted resource when it comes to increasing overall factory output by eliminating roll change downtime. 

To learn more about the SP1 enhancements, please click here.


Butler Automatic Joins The Association for Contract Packagers & Manufacturers

Contract Manufacturing is one of the hottest growth sectors in packaging. In response to demand for higher output packaging lines, with many Butler systems installed at contract manufacturers’ facilities already, Butler Automatic is pleased to join the Association for Contract Packagers and Manufacturers, aka the CPA. Butler Automatic splicing solutions increase total factory output by eliminating downtime for roll changes.

Contract Packagers & Manufacturers Association

Butler Automatic Announces New Sales Director

 Industry veteran joins sales members just in time for largest Pack Expo ever held 

Middleboro, MA - Butler Automatic is pleased to announce that David Foskett has joined their sales team as Sales Director. Dave began his position in time to attend Pack Expo International, which was the perfect platform for introducing him to Butler Automatic customers and many OEM partners. Butler Automatic focus at PackExpo was boosting Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) for packaging lines with automatic roll splicing, as well as showcasing 13 new design features on the Butler Automatic SP1 series for packaging applications.

Dave is no stranger to the packaging domain, with more than 40 years’ industry experience with KHS, Bossar, Meypack and others. Dave is tasked with managing partnerships with several OEM’s, as well as growing Butler Automatic sales in the West and Southeast US.

Phil Johnson, Vice President of Sales and Marketing notes that “Dave will increase Butler Automatic’s ability to build strong partnerships and deliver solutions which increase Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) for our customers’ flexible packaging applications.”

Dave Foskett

Five Step Plan to Boost OEE with Automatic Roll Splicing

Butler Automatic offers top five tips to get the maximum Overall Equipment Effectiveness from reliable Butler Automatic splicers

Backed by the experience of delivering more than 17,000 automatic splicing solutions worldwide over the past 65 years, Butler Automatic has published a Five Step Plan To Boost OEE With Automatic Roll Splicing, which results in customers gaining several points of increased Overall Equipment Effectiveness (Availability x Productivity x Quality) for roll fed packaging lines. 

The first step is to involve Butler Automatic in discussions with roll fed applications equipment providers from the beginning of the project.  When the Butler team is directly involved on-site at installation and ramp-up, Butler achieves successful implementation quickly, 99% of the time.  The second and third tips are to utilize Butler’s One Point Lesson Plans (OPL’s), and Clean-Inspect-Lubricate instructions (CIL’s). With these documents Butler customers are able to train and maintain for top performance of Butler solutions, consistently achieving increased output by eliminating 100% of line stoppages for roll changes.  The fourth step includes having a short list of essential wear parts on-hand since Butler solutions consume very few wear parts. The fifth and perhaps most vital, is to establish a solid connection with our team. Butler service and parts teams support our applications 24/7.

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Butler Automatic Reveals SP1 Splicer Enhancement

New ‘WAVE’ bar feature ensures optimal vacuum coverage

Middleboro, MA - Butler Automatic announces a recent innovation to their SP1 Automatic Splicer.

Upgraded vacuum bars featuring Width Adaptive Vacuum Effectivity (WAVE) technology, eliminate edge curl which creates issues on certain films. The new wave bar is an improvement over previous vacuum bars because it includes strategically-placed vacuum holes in conjunction with wave-shaped vacuum slots. This enhancement means that SP1 users consistently have adequate vacuum coverage for their splices, regardless of the width of the film being used. This innovation allows customers the flexibility to change format widths of plastic films without the worry of covering holes on vacuum bars. The innovative design also ensures minimal vacuum loss (i.e. maximum Vacuum Effectivity) regardless of film width. To view a video of the new wave bar design, please click here.

Mike Mucci, Vice President of Engineering at Butler Automatic, states that this enhancement “allows our automatic roll splicing solutions to be more reliable and drive higher OEE (Overall Equipment Effectiveness) on roll-fed packaging lines.”

The upgraded WAVE bars are currently featured on certain SP1 orders and can be added to existing machines on a per case basis.

Butler Automatic Wave Bar for SP1 Splicer

Hydralign Industry Leading Safety Chucks Brought to Market by Butler Automatic

By John Gonsalves, Purchasing Manager, Butler Automatic

While the market is in a state of hurried change – Hydralign Safety Chucks continue to be “rock solid”. Our obsession with high quality components, competitive pricing and lightning speed deliveries set us apart from the competition. Our safety chucks provide our customers with a quick change and improve cycle time at the end of their production process. By simply replacing the hardened upper and lower jaws our customers save time and money in replacement costs.

Many companies in our position would succumb to the temptation to outsource their safety chuck manufacturing. We choose instead to take advantage of our lean and continuous improvement assembly practices as well as our ISO 9001 accredited manufacturing facility to protect product superiority. Every component of our safety chuck is designed and manufactured in the United States to ensure the highest quality level possible. Our current fill rate on safety chuck orders is 95% with a company goal of 100%.

In today’s rapidly changing manufacturing landscape, we understand that delivering a clear, consistent message to our customers is now more important than ever. Our message is that Hydralign parts are available and we are ready to fulfill your needs.

For more information please visit To place an order please call 1-800-688-0954, or email

Butler Automatic Announces New Team Members

Engineering and Marketing Welcome New Hires

Butler Automatic is pleased to announce the expansion of both our Product Development Engineering group and our Sales and Marketing team with the addition of Dan Dalessio and Amanda Estey, respectively. These positions will address our continued growth and need for increasing engineering resources as well as shifting our marketing and engagement landscape.

Dan joined the Engineering team at Butler on May 21, 2018 as a Product Development Engineer. He will be operating at our headquarters in Middleborough, Massachusetts. Dan’s responsibilities will include designing Butler products to meet customer requirements and investigating product performance. Dan’s extensive engineering experience spans over 20 years across a broad array of industries. He also holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI).

Amanda joined the Sales and Marketing team as a Marketing Coordinator on April 23, 2018. She will also be based at our headquarters. Amanda will be responsible for driving an increase in Butler’s profile in the packaging industry and creating industry-specific marketing content. Amanda has over 10 years of marketing and communication experience, four of which have been within the packaging industry. Amanda has also worked in the technology, law enforcement and full service advertising industries. She holds a Master of Arts in Media Communication Management from Webster University and received her Bachelor of Science degree from Bloomsburg University.

Chip Johns, CEO, states that “Bringing Dan into our engineering team is driven by Butler Automatic’s focus on continuous product improvement, and is also a reflection on the increasing number of packaging applications involving OEM equipment partners where our SP1’s must interface seamlessly.” 

“Amanda’s digital marketing expertise and background in packaging equipment will raise the profile of Butler Automatic’s growth driven by our customers’ focus on OEE (Overall Equipment Effectiveness) of their flexible packaging lines.” notes Phil Johnson, Vice President of Sales and Marketing.

Chip Johns to Speak at New England Family Business Conference

Butler Automatic President Chip Johns will join other business leaders in the panel session on “The Importance of ‘Boards’ in the Success of Your Business” presented by Caleb White, Senior Consultant, CFAR, on October 25th at 2:45 p.m. at the Colonnade Hotel in Boston, MA.

The talk will cover board of directors, board of advisors, and peer advisory boards and which is right for your organization, who should be participating and why. Hear from experts and successful business owners who have learned through experience to gain the utmost value from the appropriate board.

Panelists will include:

  • Chip Johns, President of Butler Automatic and former CEO of Vanguard Sailboats
  • Engin Okaya, MD of Prudential Capital and board member at both Legal Seafoods and Polar Beverage
  • Mike Mulrain, CFO & COO of Polar Beverage and a member of the Kayem Board

The New England Family Business Conference provides an opportunity to meet face-to-face with family business owners, hear from experts, study a variety of best practices and network with peers. The program is designed for professional development and features industry leading keynote speakers as well as a selection of educational breakout sessions with panels of family business owners.

For more information on the session visit and to sign up click here.

Butler Automatic to Highlight SP1 and SP3HSL Automatic Film Splicers at PACK EXPO 2017

Visit Booth #3916 to learn how film splicers increase overall equipment efficiency

Butler Automatic announces that it will showcase its SP1 and SP3HSL Automatic Film Splicers at PACK EXPO 2017, to be held September 25-27, 2017, at the Las Vegas Convention Center in Las Vegas, NV. Butler Automatic experts will be on hand in Booth #3916 to demonstrate how Butler film splicers improve overall equipment efficiency (OEE) and increase packaging line output.

Drop by the booth to see how Butler equipment improves OEE – defined by equipment availability, performance, and quality. Equipment availability is improved by eliminating roll change downtime caused by manual film roll changes. Performance improvements come through Butler splicers’ consistent web infeed, resulting in fewer stops and starts. Butler splicers’ precise web control improves quality by providing filling and sealing consistency.

With a simple mechanical design and high-quality manufacture, the SP1 promises long-term, trouble-free automatic splicing performance. The device senses the diameter of the expiring roll of film and automatically splices the end of each expiring roll onto the new roll. It is capable of running at speeds of up to 600 feet per minute (FPM). The SP1 is an excellent investment for food, beverage, and medical device packaging operations because it drastically increases production uptime, improving your OEE, and resulting in a complete return on investment in just a few months.

Butler will also showcase its innovative SP3HSL automatic shrink sleeve splicer. Film roll changes must occur in shrink sleeve packaging applications as frequently as once every 8 minutes, and changing the roll by hand wastes minutes of production time. The SP3 Automatic Sleeve Splicer increases line efficiency by 9 percent or more in these applications. Capable of running at speeds of up to 600 FPM, the SP3HSL is ideally suited for increasing production time in consumer packaged goods and pharmaceutical applications utilizing shrink sleeve packaging.

Leading Pet Food Company Freshpet Cuts Downtime and Increases Output with Automatic Splicing

By Chip Johns, President and Chief Operating Officer, Butler Automatic Inc

The engineering team at Freshpet, a leading US pet food manufacturer, specializing in fresh, natural pet foods, wanted to improve production efficiency on one of their pet food manufacturing and packaging lines. They came across a solution at PackExpo that led to cost savings ranging from $60,000 to $130,000 per year. What was this incredible solution? Automatic splicing.

Let’s rewind for a moment. The Freshpet engineering team audited their process and realized that one of the greatest sources of downtime and therefore lost efficiency in their ‘chub’ production line was the time it took to change the chub packaging film rolls when they expired. In this particular line, it took operators at least 6-8 minutes to replace the roll of film, something that needed to be done every 35 to 60 minutes. The hand-spliced film also led to alignment issues, bottlenecks, and even greater downtime.

During PackExpo 2014, Freshpet’s Engineering Manager Sam Torres saw a demonstration of the Butler Automatic auto-splicing technology, and recognized that it was the solution he had been searching for to reduce downtime and improve profitability on the company’s chub packaging line.

Freshpet reached out to the experts at Butler for an automatic splicing solution customized to their specific manufacturing process. The splicer, installed by Butler in April 2015, has cut downtime to less than one minute per roll change. Not only that, but Freshpet has ordered a second splicer for their facility expansion, and has used the feedback about upstream bottlenecks that the Butler splicer revealed in the current line to design a more overall-efficient line for the expansion project. This lead to greater efficiency, more product, and more profits!

Read the full story in Packaging Strategies.

Splicers Revolutionize Productivity for Food Processing Plant

By Chip Johns, President and Chief Operating Officer, Butler Automatic Inc.

Cincinnati-based JTM Food Group is still thanking its luck for stumbling upon a zero-speed automatic film splicer by Butler Automatic at PACK EXPO International several years ago. JTM vice president Joe Maas says they are still benefiting from the productivity wave three years later. JTM is a food processing plant with more than 700 food products, about 70 percent meat and 30 percent non-meat, which has grown from a neighborhood meat store in 1960 to today’s sales of $170 million, with 430 employees.

Until it purchased the Butler Automatic splicer, JTM was switching rolls of film manually on its Vertical Form Fill and Seal (VFFS) machines used for its grind and form and kettle cooking packaging operations. The time it takes to change rolls of packaging film is frequently the single greatest cause of downtime in packaging lines; Maas estimates that it was taking about 10 minutes for each packaging roll changeover, which mounts up considerably over the course of the day.

JTM had accepted this downtime as a cost of doing business until a few years ago, when while walking the PACK EXPO floors, Maas spotted a zero-speed automatic splicer exhibited by Butler Automatic. The splicing technology joins a new roll to an expiring one without stopping the production line. When the splice is complete the accumulator is re-filled and the expired roll can be changed while the new roll is running, eliminating roll change downtime in production.

Maas found the Butler splicer to be a straightforward machine that is routine to operate. He shared with Butler that the true cost benefit for a particular process depends upon how many hours one runs a VFFS machine. If lines are busier, the cost benefits became more obvious. Mass says he goes through 50 rolls a week, which translates into about 500 minutes or just over 8 hours of production time gained by adding the Butler splicer.

Maas said, “The bottom line is that the automatic splicers give us more uptime on our VFFS machines and we produce more product. I have made a lot of money as a result of stopping by their booth.”

Read more in the April issue of Packaging World.