KANSAS CITY — At high-volume bakeries, time is money. Reducing changeovers not only lowers costly downtime, but also minimizes the amount of labor needed to keep a production line running. Moreover, multiple changeovers can lead to product inconsistency and create more waste.

One way to reduce labor and streamline operations is to find strategic ways to automate bakeries to eliminate lifting and repetitive motion and then retrain skilled employees for positions that enhance product quality, consistency and throughput. Another solution is to retrofit the lines to take advantage of newer, proven technology such as robotics for scoring and pan handling.

Moreover, Amazon warehouse-style automated guided vehicles now provide a next-generation alternative for high-volume bakeries looking to expedite bulky trough handling in their traditional sponge-and-dough fermentation process to reduce labor and enhance worker safety.

Automation, however, is not a cure-all. The workforce skill gap simply may not allow bakeries and snack manufacturers to efficiently operate and maintain the latest in technology. In existing plants, space is also at a premium, which makes it tough to boost capacity with new equipment that is larger and faster than systems on an existing line.

At BakingTech 2022, which runs from March 1-3 in Chicago, several expert panels and technical papers by the American Society of Baking will address these critical issues. If you have the chance to attend this live event, it’s a great opportunity to pick up valuable tips on streamlining your bakery operations.