KANSAS CITY — Bakers are currently facing shortages in raw materials to make products, components for equipment and a skilled workforce.

“Historically, individual shortages have occurred, but this is the first time we are seeing these three shortages at the same time,” said Jim Warren, BEMA chairman and vice president, Exact Mixing, at Reading Bakery Systems. “The result, as we all know too well, is creating chaos in the industry.”

In February’s issue of Baking & Snack, Mr. Warren noted that equipment delivery time has increased anywhere between 50% and 90% in the last two years for most suppliers. Other issues involve electrical control and components, but bakery equipment producers are now better managing the challenge.

“When they need one item, they’ll order four, then put three in inventory,” he said.

That said, the big issue for equipment builders involves skilled workers.

“Often second shifts can’t contribute simply because there isn’t a machinist available to operate a lathe on third shift,” Mr. Warren explained.

At international trade shows like interpack and iba in Germany this year, bakers will be looking for automation to help with their labor woes. The good news is that equipment makers are responding with new technology.

“Machines and systems are now designed with automation and flexibility in mind,” Mr. Warren said. “Bakers want to run production lines without having to rely on a large workforce, and they want to be able to run a variety of products on one system.”

Register on BakingBusiness.com for the Feb. 15 webinar on Capital Spending Insights for 2023, where Mr. Warren and other experts will share their thoughts on the baking industry.