If you operate a small scale bakery, you’ll probably find that a strong relationship with local customers is one of the keys to long term success. Simply meeting local demands can keep your production line busy enough that fine-tuning productivity might go unattended. But in an industry where profit margins can be so strongly tied to the efficiency of your processing operations, it’s essential to not just rely solely on a steady stream of customers.
Even though you run a small-to-medium-sized enterprise, there may be enough business justification to invest further in automation or other process improvements. Here are some things you can do to get started.
Monitor your operations to identify opportunities
Many small bakeries don’t have full transparency in their operations. Certain aspects of everyday processes might not be consistently monitored or have their data recorded, from oven loading times to energy consumption. Thus, when production bottlenecks occur, or overall costs rise, it can be difficult for you as the head of operations to truly pinpoint the area where effective solutions must be implemented.
Take steps to monitor and record productivity and efficiency throughout your operations correctly. If you use a single production line, monitor each step and the transitions between them to know if you need better automation, for instance. If you like to experiment and offer new products or options such as online purchases, tracking sales along with customer details can help drive your revenue – you may wish to upgrade from a standard spreadsheet to dedicated customer management software.
Technology to step up productivity and efficiency
Many small bakeries still perform traditional production line processes, such as kneading, by hand. If machines are used for automation, it’s often as standalone, isolated components. However, newer designs of machines such as the tabletop depositor, for instance, can have features such as customizable configurations, which let them slot into different parts of the production line – and even work within an automated handling system for streamlined, AI-guided efficiency.
Don’t overlook the importance of energy-efficient features in the latest models, either. New ovens can have not only higher energy efficiency ratings but feature better insulation and retention to maintain heat for succeeding uses and lower overall costs. Still, other innovations such as proofing, reflective coatings, and humidity control all help improve your business efficiency and lower your carbon footprint at the same time.
Personnel play a key role
Of course, no matter how good the technology gets, your people will always play a key part in ensuring the productivity of your operations. Training your staff on process monitoring and data analysis will educate them on the value of the task, and ensure accurate and relevant operations information is compiled.
Your employees are also responsible for the vital maintenance, cleaning, and careful operation of equipment at your bakery. This is important not only for overall food safety, but to ensure the proper functioning and extend the lifespan of ovens, air conditioning, and other systems and appliances. Their handling and usage of supplies, lighting, water, and other resources will also have an impact on your operations’ efficiency. Highlight their importance in improving the business and conserving energy to gain their daily buy-in.
Even on a small scale, every bakery can perform better by examining operations for ways to improve efficiency. Start with small steps to monitor and identify your most valuable opportunities and work from there.