As Aspire Bakeries has brought more automation into La Brea Bakery’s artisan process, the Van Nuys bakery has implemented some lean manufacturing systems to optimize that automation and take the bakery’s production to the next level.

The bakery’s Lean Operations Blueprint manages production flow and operations. This checklist of 132 items rests on four pillars that drive process improvement: daily tracking for daily improvements, eliminate root cause permanently, process standardization/mistake proofing and never-ending continuous improvement. With the investment in the Sightline vision system, La Brea Bakery has more data than ever to support its culture of daily, small improvements.

Bakery Director Marcus Garcia said eliminating the root cause of errors keeps the bakery staff from “putting out fires” (metaphorically, of course). In pursuit of that goal, the Van Nuys team converted a storage area into a First-Attempt-In-Learning (FAIL) brainstorming room where line operators involved in reoccurring errors use lean manufacturing methodology to strategize how to improve.

“It’s about learning from our failures,” Mr. Garcia explained. “In manufacturing there are so many opportunities to fail, and we don’t learn and then it reoccurs. So we really work on learning from our failures, and we do a lot of analysis and breathing and taking a step back and spend the time to make sure we do countermeasures or one-point lessons and share our training.”

After every audit and project, the Van Nuys team debriefs to determine what was done well and what could have been done better, and then shares that with the other 15 bakeries Aspire Bakeries runs in North America in the hopes that the same mistakes aren’t being repeated. With Kaizen events, data collection and the FAIL room, the Van Nuys team is always looking to standardize and improve.

This article is an excerpt from the May 2021 issue of Baking & Snack. To read the entire feature on ANA & La Brea Bakery, click here.