Legacy bakeries face challenges with today’s food safety standards. A plant’s mixers, dividers and even conveyors may be just a decade old, but bakeries with equipment installed before the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2011 may discover that upgrading to current rules might be easier said than done.

Sometimes companies need to accept that they need to invest to meet today’s standards for sanitary design feature open-frame construction and are built to prevent debris, allergens and microbials from harboring in nooks and crannies. From a maintenance point of view, toolless parts have streamlined the time it takes to clean and replace components on a regular basis — and even reduce costly changeover time on high-speed production lines.

All of this should be considered when it comes to return on investment for new equipment. To determine if a production line needs an upgrade, one approach is to review equipment with a cross-functional team that includes the operators, engineers, sanitors and mechanics with working knowledge of the systems to identify design challenges that lead to inefficient cleaning, maintenance and inspection.

At the same time, look for those potential opportunities where modifications, such as switching to servo motors or adding digital controls, can be made to increase yield, which increases operating efficiency. And look at how busy the line operators are working. If they’re racing around, aligning dough pieces, doing unnecessary lifting or pushing along pans to keep product flowing, maybe it’s time to give so-called automated line needs a closer look and plan for future capital investment opportunities.