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Improving Bakery Process Efficiency

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By Emilie A Lachance - February 27, 2020

In a recent report, State of the Baking Industry, we learned that bakery products is a growth sector within food manufacturing and that one of the most significant trends is the “changing palate of the consumer”

“The average spending on bakery products for a U.S. household is expected to increase to $383.75 by 2021. Most of this spending will be on bread, with the second-most being cakes and cupcakes.”

Health-conscious consumers are moving to ‘artisan’ breads made from ancient and whole grains, all natural ingredients and no added preservatives. This view, seconded by a recent article in Snack and Bakery Magazine, “artisan, multi-grain as well as gluten free are driving a resurgence in the interest in bread”.

In Food Industry Executive, when asked  “What bakery trends do you think will arise in the next 10 years?”:

“We’ll see a continued trend toward more natural bread. Twenty years ago, the trend was to process faster and faster. Now, it’s reversing so that bakers are doing it more like their fathers and grandfathers were 40 or 50 years ago.”

These market forces are causing industrial bakers to have to adjust their products and as a result adapt their manufacturing operations and logistics to compete. 

This adaptation creates a host of issues for bakery process efficiency. Among these issues are the obvious macro-impacts of removing preservatives, which means that products need to reliably get from the baker to the consumer in shorter time frames and usually more frequently and in smaller batch sizes. This means that production runs may have to adapt to be smaller and more frequent, with changeovers occurring more frequently. This can be devastating to bakery profit margins if not managed well. "Agile" is a word from the technology industry that bakers are going to need to embrace.

There are also a range of smaller, but still significant issues that impact bakery process efficiency:

“Artisan products often mean soft doughs with high hydration, long dough resting time, use of sourdoughs, and little or no baking improvers,” Mr. Breeswine explained in the artile. “Processing soft doughs can be a challenge because they tend to be stickier and thus are harder to process over various modules of a makeup line.”

As the demands of consumers evolve, bakers will have to evolve with them, while maintaining profitability. This has profound implications for bakery process efficiency.

How can industrial Bakers Respond and Improve Bakery Process Efficiency?

Baking is largely about, well, Baking!

The demand for ovens and proofers is strong, outpacing GDP growth, with an annual CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate) of 7% projected from 2019 to 2025. Part of this strong growth is because baking is an energy intensive process. Ovens are at the heart of every baking process and ovens consume massive amounts of energy, meaning that they are a large component of the baking industry cost structure. Replacing older ovens with newer types that are more energy efficient is a cost-reduction strategy. However, the change in demand toward other types of breads also drives this demand as well, as some oven technologies adapt better to products like artisan breads, which require a unique crust and interior texture.

Anytime a business invests in new equipment, an ROI is expected. To learn how IIoT technology can help you to maximize OEE and your return on your bakery equipment capital investment, go here.

As noted above, baking consumes a lot of energy which is costly. 

In a super interesting study on Industrial Oven Improvement for Energy Reduction and Enhanced Process Performance, the researchers speak to the necessary balance between baking process efficiency and product quality.

Producing product rejects not only wastes the raw materials and labor that went into the product, it also wastes the energy used, which without careful accounting can be a significant hidden cost.

In this article, they propose an oven optimization methodology which resulted in an 87.5% reduction in cooling time for baked goods, which saved 202 hours of annual oven downtime per year and a reduction in oven gas consumption of 20-30%.

Their research methodology is similar to that which Worximity recommends for Thermoforming Package Line Optimization which you may find to be an interesting article along these lines as well. This article discusses a process of iteration, experimentation and optimization methodology which is similar to the optimization process they describe.

Beyond optimizing baking oven efficiency and the Packaging Line, what else can bakers do to improve bakery process efficiency?

We recommend a three phase approach:

  • Embrace Lean Manufacturing
  • Improve Planning and Documentation
  • Institute Benchmarking
  • Learn to Test and Optimize

LEAN MANUFACTURING

Lean Manufacturing is a proven methodology to reduce waste and increase process efficiency. Below are several resources which recommend implementing a lean manufacturing process or that demonstrate the results that can be achieved for bakery process efficiency using lean methods.

PLANNING & DOCUMENTATION

In the article Tips for Reducing Bakery Production Costs, they review some useful steps including embracing Lean Manufacturing techniques such as Just in Time inventory management. They also recommend having a well documented production process for each product that includes an ingredients plan for each production run. You can not only compare total production costs against planned production costs, you can also calculate actual yield vs planned yield for each set of ingredients. 

Measuring actual vs. planned production and bakery product yield is an ideal application for Smart Factory Analytics technology like Worxmity’s. 

There’s also an interesting observation in the article about overproduction which is unique to the baking industry. Overproduction is one of the 8 wastes of lean and is traditionally sought to be minimized. However, if your production is destined for a retail environment that can sell ‘day-olds’, it’s quite possible that you can create an additional revenue stream by overproducing, which even though the day-olds sell for less, the additional marginal revenue can be profitable.

The baking industry may be unique in how they address the 8 wastes of lean, with overproduction maybe requiring a different decision-making model than in most industries.

"We could throw away four croissants for every extra one we sell," he says. "Overbaking is technically less efficient, but it’s actually more profitable."

The American Society of Baking provides this helpful planning video which is instructive in documenting and modeling your bakery process.

BENCHMARKING

Once you’ve established your documented process and production plan, you can now set a benchmark for your existing bakery production. From the Snack and Bakery article Improving Snack and Bakery Operational Efficiency, while many larger bakeries will look to automation to improve efficiency, it’s better to establish a benchmark of your existing performance, to implement a lean methodology and then look to automate the optimal process, leaving some process steps to workers while you automate others. 

“By conducting an analysis of current facility variables, utilizing lean manufacturing tactics, operations can better determine which tasks would see improvement through automation. This frees personnel to carry out jobs more tailored to their particular skill set.”

Using Smart Factory Analytics software such as Worximity can accelerate the gathering of your bakery production efficiency benchmark data. It can also increase the odds of ‘clean’ efficiency data.

When humans manually gather production data, it requires additional resources which may or may not be available on all shifts. Human gathered data can also be error prone and can unfortunately be subjected to bias. By having Worximity gathering your data in real-time, 24/7 in the background you’ll reduce costs, increase accuracy and remove bias. 

This clean data can then be compared to data gathered in the same way as you make process improvements, ensuring that there’s no testing bias introduced as you move from benchmarking to process testing to process improvement.

TESTING AND OPTIMIZATION

Once you have benchmarked your existing bakery processes you can then begin to test and optimize various scenarios. In the paper Analysis and Optimization of a Bakery Production Line Using ARENA, they note that:

“Production planning in German bakeries is mainly based on the experience of the responsible production manager. As a result production planning happens more or less “chaotic”, which often results in “bottle-necks”, deficient dimensioning, ineffective staff allocation and operational problems. The aforementioned points cause a production environment in which factories are not able to achieve the best possible economical and ecological performance.”

In this paper, they report the results of using an industrial modeling software to simulate the actual bakery production process. The software input is the data that you’d obtain when using Worximity to establish your benchmark performance.

“Once the simulation results are validated with the real production line data, we can rely on them to analyse and optimize the production line processes.“

While embracing lean manufacturing techniques and implementing a data gathering, testing and optimization software and mindset can seem intimidating, you can do this!

From How A Bakery Improved Efficiency With Lean, Wright’s Dairy Farm and Bakery operates out of North Smithfield, Rhode Island. Their bakery process efficiency goal they set for themselves was to bake 93 cakes per day for their retail shop.

By evaluating their 8 wastes of lean, they learned:

  • Defects – Employees had to scrape extra filling off uneven cakes
  • Overproduction – Producing too many cakes too quickly caused waste that workers had a hard time keeping up with
  • Waiting – Workers often were idle when waiting on materials
  • Non-utilized talent – There was a third person in cake prep who didn’t really need to be there once all materials were in place.

Even being a relatively small organization, they were able to improve their bakery process efficiency and meet their goal. 

You can do this too! And of course you can reach out to a Worximity expert to help you along your journey to bakery process improvement. Click below to connect with us a start a 2 month free trial.

Start your 2-Month Trial

Summary:

Control Engineering Magazine agrees with this approach. In Improving Productivity and Efficiency in Bakeries they recommend the following:

Transparent Production

“Bakeries frequently suffer from discrepancies between financial planning and reality. Collecting actual production data, including changeover times and other manual processes and producing realistic form factors can make things more transparent."

Industry 4.0 

“Industry 4.0 is being introduced into the food and drinks industry. Smaller and medium-sized operations need to set themselves apart from the competition. New sales concepts, greater flexibility in production and greater responsiveness to customer requirements up to and including personalisation of products are essential. With the help of automating concepts, in terms of Industry 4.0 – the Internet of Things – these targets are in sight.”

Using the Worximity solution will get you started in improving your bakery process efficiency as you compete in the ever-changing bakery market. 


To see what another bakery accomplished by implementing Worximity, download the case study below!

Find out How Première Moisson became a smart food factory  and Increased it's Responsiveness to Downtime Events by 27%.   Read Case Study

The Worximity Smart Food Factory solution is a low-cost hardware system that can be up and running in a few hours combined with an easy and intuitive yet powerful analytics dashboard that provides fast ROI to start and a roadmap to full-on IIoT success.

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