Optimizing bakery schedule
When managing many different types of products across several customers, a schedule is critical to keeping production on track.

Optimize the schedule

When managing many different types of products across several customers, a schedule is critical to keeping production on track. Scheduling production and the changeovers necessary to accomplish orders requires accurate forecasts and orders made with plenty of lead time. Not only must production be scheduled, but arrangements must also be made for sanitation and preventive maintenance as well.

“It’s like playing a chess game and someone is moving the pieces every time you turn your back,” Mr. White said. “Without a sophisticated scheduling and inventory management software system and proper training, there will be frustration and failure.”

A lack of proper scheduling means inventory can run low and orders go unmet when last-minute orders interrupt production, he said.

A good relationship with customers can help prevent these issues.

“To maximize the schedules, you need to work with your customer base to get reasonable schedules,” Mr. Myrick said.

Last-minute orders of short runs break into the established schedule and throw everything off. This is where mistakes get made and inefficiency creeps in. Twenty-four hour cutoffs on orders and a staff willing to enforce such sales policies can go a long way to keep production schedules reasonable. Cultivating a good relationship creates the kind of environment that prevents unreasonable expectations from building up.

For the most efficient production, longer runs are ideal.

“When you think about scheduling, the goal is to be flexible (short runs), but longer runs provide greater efficiency,” said Gregg Carr, project planner, baking and snack, The Austin Co.

However, longer runs create more product than the manufacturer may need at the time. So, bakers must ask themselves if they can store that excess product. Questions to consider: Is there room onsite for product storage? Is a new freezer necessary? How will you organize that warehouse for efficient retrieval? If there isn’t room for a freezer and product storage onsite, can you contract to a third party?

Switching between different products — especially between items containing no allergens and those with — requires continuous sanitation. Scheduling strategies can help minimize the amount of downtime and necessary sanitation.

“Bakers can align their s.k.u.s to minimize the amount of times they have to shut down the lines and clean just because they’re changing a s.k.u.,” said Mike Keough, director, business development, Stellar Group. For example, starting with non-allergen products first and leaving allergen-containing products to end of day allows bakers and snack producers to put off sanitation until after the allergen product runs.

To make sure production is scheduled with the utmost efficiency, Synergetics works from the 24-hour clock, making a timeline of everything that needs to happen: production runs, changeovers, sanitation, maintenance, start-up and breaks.

“We look at the plant as one big changeover opportunity,” Mr. Myrick said.

Running the plant effectively requires production to start on time, be shut down properly and time made for preventive maintenance on a daily basis.

“We put together a timeline showing the departments, start-ups and shut-downs,” he explained. “We show the time of day and the components that need to happen, all of which we put it into a schedule or ‘Standard Work’ for supervision or management.”