By Keith Seiz
From left to right: Doug Wimberly, Butterkrust Bakery's president, and Tom Sell, Butterkrust Bakery's director of manufacturing, display the results of the successful startup of Butterkrust Bakery's new bun and roll line.
Besides the new bun and roll line, Butterkrust Bakery's expansion project includes a packaging room and new shipping docks.
This series of pictures illustrates Butterkrust Bakery's startup process. Within 48 hours, the company was ready to start shipping finished products.
Doug Wimberly, Butterkrust Bakery's president, has significant experience with capital expenditures and expansions in his 35 years of baking industry service. He has overseen the installation of a 1,000 cuts per minute bun and roll line, a 200 cuts per minute bread line and countless other projects, including the installation of a brew system and the conversion of a bread line into a premium bread line. So when he says that his most recent expansion project, the addition of a new bun and roll line, was "the best startup I went through," one should take note of how the company accomplished a significant expansion project two weeks ahead of schedule and on budget.
"It's important to pull every supplier together and make them feel like they're part of one team, even though they all had different responsibilities and were from different companies," Wimberly says.
By creating a team attitude, Butterkrust instilled a sense of project ownership from its equipment suppliers. The company fostered and grew this ownership through a series of meetings it conducted throughout the expansion project. These were attended by the project's principle equipment suppliers, the construction contractor and other important service providers, such as the refrigeration contractor.
During these meetings, Wimberly discussed target dates and project updates. Most importantly, he asked the group if there were any issues that may cause the company to miss its target dates. If there were, the group worked through them together and found the best solution. "The meetings really paid off because they let the equipment suppliers know what was expected and when it was expected," Wimberly says.
These meetings, along with constant coordination, paved the way for Butterkrust Bakery's successful expansion. Besides the bun and roll line, this expansion includes a 50,000-sq.-ft. building addition, a new shipping dock and a parking lot.
In addition to regular meetings throughout the installation, Butterkrust Bakery gathered its equipment suppliers together one more time: for startup. The company ran its first dough on April 20, with all of the new line's equipment suppliers in attendance.
"One of the most critical things that gave us a successful startup is that we had our entire team in the plant during the startup to ensure that everything was f u n c t i o n i n g when we ran our first dough," Wimberly says.
As with all startups, the first run presented some problems. However, these problems were miniscule and easily fixed. For example, the dough pump's horsepower had to be increased to obtain desired rates and the makeup system had to be tweaked because it was not keeping up with the rest of the line. Beyond that, the company's tweaking mainly consisted of fine tuning conveyor speeds and transfer points.
The only major problem during the startup phase was conforming to updated electrical codes. For Butterkrust Bakery's previous expansions, electrical inspections required that UL ratings only be present on panels. However, new codes require complete assembly UL ratings. "A UL rating on a panel wasn't good enough, we needed to have it throughout the system," Wimberly says.
To accommodate this bump in the road, Butterkrust Bakery hired a company to inspect its entire assemblies. As a result of the inspection, the company was presented with a list of changes. Unfortunately, the Memorial Day weekend approached, and Butterkrust could not postpone the startup while waiting for UL certification.
Wimberly solved this problem by calling the mayor and city manager of Lakeland, Fla. After promising to conform to the new electrical codes, Butterkrust Bakery was given temporary approval. In the end, the company spent about $20,000 to conform to new electrical codes.
After the first dough ran through the system, the company's manufacturing team and the new line's equipment suppliers spent the rest of the afternoon and into the night tweaking the line. The next morning, the company ran three doughs. After this run and additional tweaking, the line was operating as planned.
Amazingly, Butterkrust Bakery's new line was ready to start shipping products only 48 hours after the initial dough test. This feat was accomplished by "tenacity, good planning and staying focused on the goal," Wimberly says. "We had to do a lot of coordinating, thinking and planning, and my team put in a lot of long hours and hard work."
Butterkrust Bakery's in-house team includes Tom Sell, director of manufacturing, and Jackie Rose, chief engineer and project coordinator. Wimberly also attributes the bun and roll line's successful startup to the equipment suppliers. "We've had a great response from all of the suppliers we've dealt with, and every single one of them stepped up when we ran into a speed bump and fulfilled their obligations," Wimberly says.
This is a far cry from the company's previous startups, where thousands of dollars in product would be lost during the startup process. "I believe that over time, our industry has changed. Our equipment dealers, engineers and communications have improved," Wimberly says. "In the old days, we knew we were going to have six weeks of hell during the startup."