Commercial bakeries are no strangers to long production runs and seemingly non-stop operations. Bun producers and pie bakers ramp up every year to get ready for busy holiday seasons. Keeping up with pandemic-induced panic buying can look a lot like prepping for such busy periods. However, some bakeries might not have as much experience running their lines long and hard.

“To do that, you have to anticipate and plan for it,” said Jim Kline, president, The EnSol Group. “If you’re in a fresh delivery business, you have to prepare for the fact that you will have minimal downtime available for maintenance.”

Without that preparation, either in having equipment designed for extended runs or knowing how to operate with minimal downtime, bakers may find themselves tempted to skip out on routine maintenance just to get through this moment in history. But a word of caution to those who push their production lines.

“You get into three, four or five weeks without shutting down, and the equipment will find its own way to shut down,” said Rowdy Brixey, president, Brixey Engineering Strategies & Training. “It will stop, and now you’re in a different crisis mode. You’re losing lots of product. You could have used up all the reliability out of your equipment and gotten to a point where it requires major repair, not just maintenance. That’s scary. You can’t afford to run your plant into the ground and have no plant five weeks from now.”

Finding a balance between production and maintenance during high-volume seasons requires, as Mr. Kline said, a lot of preparation. While some larger bakeries run this way routinely, those that are new to it can apply some common strategies to make the most of running around the clock.

This article is an excerpt from the June 2020 issue of Baking & Snack. To read the entire feature on preventative maintenance, click here.