New technologies and improved processing methods are front-and-center at IBIE.

What might bakers see at the upcoming International Baking Industry Exposition (IBIE) that wasn’t at the 2013 show? New technologies and improved processing methods have always been front-and-center at IBIE, said Laurie Gorton, Baking & Snack’s executive editor and veteran of 12 expositions (her first was in Atlantic City in 1977).

Consider how computers inched their way into the baking industry’s tent. Many in the industry scoffed at the first touch-screen terminal exhibited at a mid-1980s IBIE. Today, Ms. Gorton noted, baking has a data-driven future, and rapid access to the history of operating conditions, raw materials supplies, customer orders and production scheduling via electronic means long ago replaced the reams of printouts that once covered production managers’ desks.

Integrating an enterprise resource planning system with such handheld technologies will further free up that valuable manager to better run the bakery. With wireless systems and cloud storage, Ms. Gorton wondered, what further efficiencies may be reaped? How much data gathering, storage, analysis and use are needed when running dedicated lines? Is it worthwhile to apply real-time data systems to flexible processing systems? Might simpler control methods be less expensive and more productive? After all, it is just as possible to over-collect as to over-correct.

As you prepare to attend IBIE, Ms. Gorton noted, understand the difference between invention and innovation. You can’t predict invention, she pointed out, but you can focus on innovation. Ms. Gorton advised that everyone comes to IBIE prepared to see plenty of innovation but also to ask plenty of questions. For more of her insights, check out Sosland Publishing’s IBIE PreShow Guide that’s being mailed to you, our readers, as well as all IBIE registrants.