Pro Tip: Use periods of downtime to optimize areas that need attention, including equipment repair and capital spending projects.

For bun and bread manufacturers, the “off season” is a time to catch up, slow down and recharge for the upcoming busy season. Sales are down, projects are pending and employees are taking vacation. Therefore, it makes sense to use the end of the year to catch your breath. Or does it?

I would argue that the “off season” needs to be the new “on season.” With decreased production, there is more time to spend optimizing areas that need attention during the busy months.

For example, it might be a good time to resurface unlevel rounder beds or replace rounder belts/bars or lap conical rounders. Sheet rollers and scrapers can be replaced, and dividers can be reconditioned.

In addition, building equipment such as boilers, air compressors, heaters, lights, scuppers and downspouts can be inspected and serviced.

Next year’s project support, third-party inspections and annual training can be scheduled and confirmed to ensure the availability of critical resources.

What about capital projects? Submitting requests during the first quarter sets you up for failure. The lead-time between submitting a project and getting approval can be weeks or months, never mind the long delivery schedules. You are never able to achieve your yearly projected return-on-investment if annualized.

If a request is submitted now, there is a greater chance to have the project approved before the new year rolls around.

Another way to take advantage of this downtime is to incentivize vacations. Summer is peak vacation season, but it’s also peak production season. Offer incentives to employees to take their much-deserved respites in the winter months, allowing for more hands-on work during the high-volume time of year.

If you use your downtime wisely, you just might find yourself ahead of the competition in the year to come.

Rowdy Brixey is founder and president of Brixey Engineering Inc.

You can connect with him on LinkedIn.