Bakeries looking to increase productivity and overcome technical staffing shortages can turn to remote maintenance as a solution, said Blake Bennett, sales engineer, Northwind Technical Services. Mr. Bennett’s International Baking Industry Exposition education session “Automation Trends and Technologies – Remote Maintenance” outlined several ways bakers can best use this technology.

In the past, Mr. Bennett explained, maintenance and service departments consisted of employees skilled in manual work with wrenches, screwdrivers and other hardware. The machines of yesterday were relatively simple to maintain. Today, with electronic and computer components, technical maintenance is far more complex, and not all bakeries have the staff to address problems when they come up. In order to adapt, bakeries can now rely on remote maintenance technology suppliers to fill that need, Mr. Bennett said.

Remote maintenance allows service providers to collect data and address problems from a distance, at any time of day. If bakers use the data strategically to shift from a preventative to a predictive plan, uptime increases and many problems can be avoided. By working with a supplier to establish a real-time database at a plant, bakers can use data to replace parts before entire machines fail.

“Instead of just collecting a list of faults, they can be tracked, and trends form,” Mr. Bennett said. “Then you can start asking better questions about your automated systems.”

He added that bakeries should collaborate with suppliers and internal IT teams to establish secure connections to better track trends and stay ahead of maintenance issues.