KANSAS CITY — With skyrocketing commodity prices and periodic shortages of some ingredients, bakers can turn to recipe management systems and other front-end controls to closely forecast inventory, avoid shorting orders and lower costly waste. Such software monitors ingredient usage, tracks inventory and projects lead times for ingredient delivery, providing a live management system to changes in the supply chain.

Even artisan bakeries can benefit by avoiding production disruptions without affecting product quality. In fact, minor ingredient handling systems can reduce the risk of operator error in an artisan bakery. That’s especially valuable in those bakeries that rely on dozens of different ingredients each day to often produce hundreds of SKUs for retail and foodservice accounts.

In Baking & Snack’s ingredient handling report in May, subject matter experts recommended automating those ingredients that a bakery uses most each week. That’s because those highest volume minor ingredients provide the best opportunity for a return on investment while seasonal or more unusual ingredients are scaled and added manually.

Artisan bakeries can automate their ingredient handling to not only control their supply chain, but also reduce labor and heavy lifting while preserving the art of baking. Such systems also can offer an additional layer of food safety, especially when it comes to allergen controls. In many ways, it’s not that much different from the way other small to mid-size companies streamline their operations with semiautomatic ingredient weighing and batching.

Automation doesn’t mean compromising when it comes to Old World baking. Rather, it’s an effective tool for boosting capacity and serving a wider array of customers.