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.