Bakery worker
With flexible production lines, bakers need to anticipate a certain amount of downtime.

Uptime vs. downtime

An enemy of efficiency is downtime, planned and unplanned. Planned downtime — when production needs to be shut down for changeovers, sanitation, maintenance or breaks — can be anticipated. Unplanned downtime, such as with breakdowns, is the true bane of efficient production. With flexible production lines, bakers need to anticipate a certain amount of downtime, but that doesn’t mean they can’t minimize it.

Automation can go a long way in shortening downtime necessary for changeovers.

“Automating anywhere you can along the line should increase flexibility as it speeds up making changes,” Mr. Carr said.

With an automated ingredient handling system, an operator can swap out ingredients with the push of a button rather than manually moving bins of minor ingredients. With automated oven zone control, operators don’t need to manually reset burners.

“Robotic packaging lets you change formats almost instantaneously,” he continued.

With a little bit of labor management, employee break time doesn’t have to mean downtime for the production line.

“One way to keep uptime is to never shut down and rotate your employees,” Mr. Keough explained. “Adding a floating employee means you don’t shut down for break time.”

While maintenance halts production lines, regular preventive maintenance can help avoid future unscheduled shut downs caused by equipment failure.

“You have to be very diligent about those daily, weekly and monthly tasks because that’s what will drive your uptime,” Mr. Keough said.

To keep things moving and ensure bakers meet their quality and production goals, Mr. Keough suggested having a daily pre-flight checklist: a list operators visited before every start-up to make sure the right s.k.u. was being run, the proper sanitation pieces and packaging was in place, etc.

“Getting into this routine, this best practice, you do it every day because you expect these results every day,” he said.