KANSAS CITY — When it comes to workforce challenges facing the baking industry, perhaps none is more acute than the shortage of skilled maintenance engineers. That issue is compounded by advances in technology and investments by bakeries to automate as much manual labor as possible to lower the headcount while boosting plant capacity and versatility.

What will the costs be in failing to maintain a bakery in the future?

“Ultimately, all businesses are in the business of making money,” said Rowdy Brixey, president of Brixey Engineering. “Maintenance is overhead — overhead charged to the cost of goods sold. A company can lose their competitive advantage if the maintenance department fails to keep the lines running properly and at a cost comparable to their competitors. Cutting orders, late shipments, inconsistent quality, high waste and high-maintenance cost can all be death to the bottom line.”

After more than 40 years working on baking assets in plants around the nation, Mr. Brixey learned how to keep production lines running and why they break down — often unexpectedly. At IBIE 2022 in Las Vegas, his session on The Future of Maintenance will focus on what commercial bakeries need to do to sustain a proper maintenance culture, especially when the skilled labor gap is wider than ever. Another session on Quick and Easy KPIs that Drive Improved Maintenance will be held on Sept. 20.

“The future of maintenance effectiveness given our current and future labor dilemma is switching from a ‘go inspect’ to see what needs to be replaced or rebuilt to a ‘go do,’ which will require a data-driven, action-based culture,” he noted.

Bakers must address the future of maintenance today.