When automating, it’s not always about return on investment for the short term. International Delights, Clifton, N.J., focuses on eliminating labor-intensive or even boring jobs and training operators on how to create quality products that provide untold benefits in the long run.

“Lifting or moving things — those are not the jobs we want to create,” Spiro Sayegh, co-managing director, International Delights, observed in Baking & Snack in its February issue. “We believe a lot of work involving repetition or heavy lifting should not be done by people. That’s where we have focused our automation.”

That has meant installing an ingredient handling system with bag and tote dumping stations that feed its minor systems without lifting. The company purchased a robotic pick-and-place system to gather and align sweet goods to feed its high-speed packaging machines. It installed a rail system that automatically cools racks as they move from the semi-automated production department to the packaging area. Moreover, its ovens don’t release heat into the building, providing a more comfortable working area.

Still, International Delights needs people to place the personal touches on sweet goods in ways that technology can’t.

“We invest in creative processes and custom-designed equipment not only for optimization and efficiency but also for the quality and consistency of the product and to improve and simplify the jobs and the lives of the operators,” noted Nicolas Sayegh, co-managing director.

In the end, investing is redefining R.O.I. when it comes to labor. It’s about automating the obvious and enhancing people skills for artfully managing a workforce.