Dermot O’Connor is vice president of engineering services for Aspire Bakeries, Los Angeles. He has worked in the baking industry for 35 years and attended the International Baking Industry Exposition (IBIE) six times.

In this final installment of IBIE Point of View, Baking & Snack follows up with Mr. O’Connor to see if his IBIE trip was successful. 

Looking at IBIE 2022, what were your biggest takeaways from the show?

Automation is on everyone’s mind as a means to mitigate the impact of labor shortages. However, supply chain issues are still impacting equipment lead times with shortages of key electronic components being the primary driver, so while our bakery equipment suppliers are doing an excellent job in providing creative automation solutions, such solutions will not be quick to implement.

What was the most valuable aspect of the show for you? 

The greatest value to Aspire Bakeries was the ability to meet with multiple key equipment suppliers, both international and North America-based over the course of few days. Not only was it great to meet with old friends and colleagues, but the quality of the discussions were better in an in-person format with equipment available for observation.

Do you feel like you met your goals? Why or why not? 

In general, we feel that Aspire’s goals for IBIE were met. We were able to identify multiple automation-based solutions for specific applications of interest to Aspire. We had multiple scheduled and non-scheduled meetings with key equipment suppliers and were very satisfied with the outcomes. As expected, the ability to watch equipment demonstrations and check under the hood provided great value to Aspire team members. Education seminars attended by team members were of a high quality and also proved valuable. 

What was critical to ensuring those goals were met? 

Given the scope of IBIE, having an IBIE “plan” was most critical in ensuring our goals were met. While much time was consumed in scheduled meetings with our critical suppliers, our plan ensured we had sufficient time available to cover the entire exhibition. 

How did IBIE 2022 help you address the challenges your company is facing? 

By identifying potential automation-based solutions for specific processes, IBIE assisted with future plans for addressing some of our labor challenges. 

How will your findings and takeaways from IBIE be influencing operations and capital investment going forward?  

Depending on the need, solutions to specific problems identified during IBIE will be considered for immediate purchase or used in the development of our long-range capital plans.