If there’s something weird, and it don’t look good, who ya’ gonna call? Not Ghostbusters. Instead, turn to the people who are making it. That’s what many bakers and snack producers are doing, according to Baking & Snack’s 2015 capital spending report.

“Employees are the best brains you have in any plant because they work with the equipment,” observed Kambiz Zarrabi, managing director, Blue Coast Bakers. “I call them the DNA of the operation.”

Mr. Zarrabi recently turned to line operators who discovered a way to reduce scrap on the bakery’s lamination line to 1.5% from 7%.

At J&J Snack Foods, employees have made several novel changes to reduce waste in its facilities.

“Engineering might not come up with the approach,” said Gerard Law, senior vice-president and assistant to the president. “It comes from people working with the dough every day that reveals a new solution.”

Hearthside Food Solutions relies on hourly employees for everything from improving yield and throughput to something as simple as finding a way to better release a product off the belt, said Rich Scalise, chairman and chief executive officer. Hearthside has a suggestion box and continuous improvement teams. It rewards staff for ideas that ultimately improve the company.

“The more interaction we have with our maintenance and floor associates, the better for our company,” Mr. Scalise said. “That’s why we have built-in processes and structure for improving how we do things.”

For more on capital investment and improving operations, check out the upcoming February issue ofBaking & Snackmagazine.