Over the last three years, the food industry faced unprecedented challenges as surging demand fractured the various global supply chains. Businesses across the entire manufacturing sector responded by fast-tracking their digital transformation efforts to make their operations leaner and more efficient. During this same time, automation has proven to be among the most effective ways for food manufacturers to maximize productivity and build resiliency into their supply chains.
In this article, we’ll look at how automated solutions are helping the commercial bakery industry achieve its digital transformation objectives. We’ll also explore how AI enables faster production, higher levels of quality control, and better management of both labor and material resources. By the conclusion, you’ll see how industrial automation software and information controls provide bakeries with the tools they need to meet the modern challenges of the post-pandemic world and prepare for similar disruptions in the future.
Fast-changing technologies in the food industry
Owing to several significant advancements in industrial automation solutions in food manufacturing, the bakery industry has experienced a radical transformation in the past decade, not to mention the last three years. Despite these innovations, one aspect that food producers have been reticent to change is bread production.
Artisan bakers have always placed emphasis on maintaining handmade, high-quality bread products. Despite all, a combination of advancements in automation and an industry-specific skills labor shortage has driven bakeries to adopt automated processes to boost their efficiency with fewer human operators. New lines of dough production equipment, as well, have helped bakeries automate their bread production without sacrificing the artisanal quality that consumers expect.
Automated bakery equipment, such as dough rounders and dividers, offers bakeries a reliable labor-saving solution. It allows a single operator to produce perfectly consistent dough divisions and rounds. These machines increase efficiency, reduce labor costs, and can produce dough pieces at a predictable rate – a far call from the manual, labor-intensive dividing and weighing every dough piece by hand.
Efficiency in bread production is a considerable industry achievement. It helps bakeries combat the ongoing labor shortage while giving their overworked hands some well-deserved reprieve. Automation has become an essential tool, enabling bakeries to maintain the high-quality products that they have always been known for.
Several automated equipment manufacturers continue to drive the industry forward, providing innovative solutions to bakery businesses while bringing new automated tools to the market virtually every month. Their technology has enabled bakers to modernize their processes without sacrificing the artisan quality their customers have grown to appreciate.
What will commercial bakeries look like in the coming decades?
In the next twenty to thirty years, industrial bakeries will look markedly different than they do today. The adoption of automation has been accelerated by the fallout COVID-19 pandemic, namely the shifting landscape for manual labor, as manufacturers will seek to avoid shut delays and even shutdowns from being short-staffed. A substantial portion of consumers are now demanding contactless production, as well. Depending on future circumstances and outcomes, online streaming of factory lines with little-to-no human labor visible could become a major selling point.
By 2050, advances in quantum computing, AI, machine learning, and industrial robotics will create unprecedented levels of flexibility in manufacturing plants. Machines and artificial intelligence will communicate, or “speak,” to one another to better optimize raw materials processing. Manual operators in bakeries could become a thing of the past, with quantum computers in the driver’s seat, influencing and controlling the entire supply chain.
The takeaway lesson for food manufacturing and chemical processing industry executives is that conscious planning can now aid in manufacturing efficiency and customer satisfaction. Technologies created and optimized today will be the same ones driving bakeries of the near future. Incorporating automation and data science best practices into your operations now can save both money and time going forward, positioning your organization to remain competitive for decades to come.
Automating streamlines logistical supply chain management
Industrial automation technology is essential to achieving the digital transformation goals of any food business that needs to increase efficiency and sustain its competitive edge in a rapidly changing marketplace. With a customer-first mindset at the forefront, companies must streamline and centralize their logistics management to provide more transparency for consumers.
A swath of reliable evidence has already demonstrated the positive effects of automation, data visibility, and digital transformation. For instance, during COVID-related shutdowns, numerous bakeries knew which suppliers and ports were affected, leading to the rerouting of shipments and other cost-saving initiatives. This new system allowed for:
- Increased transparency of all operations
- Cost reductions on goods and services
- Improved productivity due to optimized processes
- Higher customer satisfaction as demands were met on time and within budget
By incorporating industrial automation technology, companies can leverage these benefits and prioritize customer satisfaction in their digital transformation endeavors. Likewise, a stronger emphasis on streamlining logistics management and providing additional visibility will allow for better decision-making and improved productivity.
Why automate your commercial bakery now?
Automating has become vital for food producers who need to reduce their labor overhead quickly. With the competition already heavily deploying automation solutions to address labor shortages and profit gaps, commercial bakeries can no longer ignore the potential of an automated technology. Automation will also give you enhanced efficiency, improved sanitation processes, and reduced operating expenses.
This makes now an excellent time to start automating your factory. Implementing automation technologies will protect their profit margins and keep your commercial pace with an increasingly scrupulous lot of competitors. Fortunately, the solutions are more widely available than ever, and adoption is relatively simple.
Need to make the switch to automation?
For more on how to start automating your food manufacturing plant, reach out to an automation specialist at EZSoft today. As a leading automation software provider, we’ll help you build an implementation strategy that allows you to upgrade your facility in stages while providing a measurable return on investment.
Drop us your information online for pricing, or call EZSoft now at (484) 568-5040 to begin your journey down the path of automation success.