KANSAS CITY — Bakeries and snack producers have gotten the message loud and clear. Unlike in the past when maintenance departments were seen as a necessary expense to keep the operation running, more progressive companies are now investing in tools as they realize that preventing any unnecessary downtime directly bolsters their bottom line.

Recent trade shows saw a bevy of new controls, programs and so-called smart devices. These systems can monitor everything from time, temperature and the quality of the baking process to hidden vibrations and other indicators that could be a precursor to a major problem. Other devices allow maintenance personnel to complete an audit of an oven’s safety circuit components in minutes with OSHA and National Fire Production Association requirements.

Overall, bakers are asking oven vendors about supply chain, new technology, automation, delivery and factory acceptance testing of equipment. There are also questions and concerns around spare parts and services that the OEM can provide, noted industry experts interviewed for the oven technology report in the March issue of Baking & Snack.

Energy efficiency is another issue that no longer sits on the back burner. The topic has become a hot potato as consumers and bakery customers turn up the heat when it comes to discussing oven emissions and a bevy of other burning issues concerning climate change and being carbon neutral.

Practically speaking, saving money has always been a hot button issue as baking and snack companies with thin margins seek to reduce overhead, so why not make the energy consumption a win-win issue for everyone involved before it boils over?