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How Wholesale Bakeries Can Manage a Complex Manufacturing Process

June 20, 2018

When you think of manufacturing, your mind may not jump directly to a visual of rows of cupcakes and cookies or a seemingly endless batch of cake cruising down a conveyor belt, but wholesale bakeries have all the same challenges as other manufacturers—and then some!

Maintaining profitability under the threat of spoilage, contamination and allergen management are just a few of the unique challenges that food manufacturers face every day. In order to effectively manage these risks, bakeries are turning to cloud manufacturing ERP systems like the Plex Manufacturing Cloud because they can run their entire manufacturing business under a purpose-built system with a full manufacturing execution system (MES) to control production with a fully integrated enterprise resource planning (ERP) system to run the business. Moreover, because commercial bakeries run on tight margins, they appreciate the value of a cloud-based solution that frees them up from non-value-added IT burdens like managing servers, software, or upgrades. With the cloud, they can focus on their core competency of making delicious products.

Running a production bakery requires a complex choreography of scheduling, raw material inventory, batch processing, yield analysis, and production controls, all the while managing and mitigating risks via stringent and timely quality procedures carried out throughout the process. And with the ever-increasing focus on food safety such as the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), those risks bring potentially high costs of failure such as recalls, decreased profits, loss of customers, and potential litigation.

Modern MES and ERP solutions like Plex make running a commercial bakery much easier. Built-in batch processing controls can reduce the risk of quality failures by forcing operators to perform steps in the proper order using the proper tools and methodologies. Checklists for machine setups, clean downs and temperature checks are all validated and recorded at the appropriate point within the process. Quality compliance comes from rigorous application of checks and procedures and are no longer just paper documents tucked away in a cabinet. And all of these checks need to be recorded and readily available for review by both customers and regulatory body audits.

Inventory management requires extensive use of lot management and date code processing capabilities that track every lot of every ingredient throughout the production process to ensure ingredient freshness and customer satisfaction. Rigorous tracking from receipt of raw materials throughout production to shipping of finished goods creates traceability records that can be accessed in moments in the case of a mock or actual recall situation. No longer do bakeries need to spend hours or days leafing through paper documents when they need to answer a question – they can provide this information within seconds with comprehensive traceability reporting.

For bakeries producing a variety of product, Plex’s scheduling tools help to optimize production by considering any number of constraints that, for example, can include production run times, machine capacity, labor availability, allergens, colors, packaging etc. hence ensuring that costs are kept to a minimum by reducing the number of changeovers and clean-downs required between products. This level of optimization can bring significant savings on a day-to-day basis while also offering opportunities for increased production volumes with current levels of resources.

So, if your wholesale bakery is looking to address any or all of the challenges I’ve listed here, it’s worth your time to consider moving to the Plex Manufacturing Cloud. You’ll enjoy a greater level of control for your manufacturing business by connecting the business to everyone and everything and ultimately unlock greater business value from your people and other resources. Learn more about how customers are using Plex for success here.

About the Author

Gerry Gray Director of Product Management, Plex Systems

Gerry Gray served as director of product management for Plex Systems from November 2013 to November 2017.