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4 Big Challenges in the Bakery Industry and How the Right Software Makes All the Difference
4 Big Challenges in the Bakery Industry and How the Right Software Makes All the Difference
3 Nov 2022Jack Payne
It’s often pointed out that the practice of baking is at its core a science, relying on precise measurements and the principles of chemistry to produce the delicious breads, muffins, pastries, cakes and other baked goods we love. This reflects just how complex the larger bakery industry is, a fact that is particularly pronounced in commercial manufacturing settings focused on this sector.
That’s in no small part due to the additional considerations that come with being a commercial business, a list which includes supply chain management, profitability and brand reputation, not to mention customer satisfaction and safety. And as a bakery segment professional, you know each of these matters is nuanced and carries special implications in your vertical.
To illustrate the reality of the situation more clearly and help you understand what it takes to succeed, let’s run down four of the biggest challenges in the bakery industry and explore how purpose-built technology can help you solve them. We’ll demonstrate the utility of bakery enterprise resource planning (ERP) software and product lifecycle management (PLM) solutions that drive digital transformation.
Challenge 1: Shelf Life Management
No one likes biting into a slice of bread only to find the loaf has gone stale, and the ramifications of such a negative customer experience can be serious in a sector as competitive as bakery. As such, you’ve got to make sure that only the freshest and most appetizing items leave your facilities and end up in the hands of clients and on supermarket shelves.
Of course, that’s easier said than done when your recipes likely call for a number of perishable materials and your goods are only viable for so long once they’ve been baked and packaged. Attempting to record and track the expiration dates for all of your inventory by hand or using a simple spreadsheet is just too cumbersome and impractical, especially considering how busy the factory floor can get.
Solution: Effective Expiration Date Management
Expiration date tracking and management is without a doubt one of the most critical features of bakery-specific ERP systems. You need a fully digital platform to maintain the sheer volume of data, as well as functionalities that help enforce a first-expiry, first-out (FEFO) picking order for both ingredients and finished products.
Aptean Food & Beverage ERP’s Expiration Management module is the ideal tool for these purposes, allowing you to configure expiration timeframes and receive proactive warnings when items are approaching the end of their freshness range. That helps you keep your end consumers pleased with every purchase while also cutting down on waste that would occur from spoilage.
Challenge 2: Allergen Control
Food safety is top of mind for today’s shoppers, and those with health concerns like allergies or sensitivities to certain foods need to be confident that what they buy and eat won’t cause any adverse reactions. Your organization could also face significant backlash or penalties imposed by enforcement agencies if you’re found in violation of allergen labeling regulations.
With baked goods frequently requiring one or more of the ingredients on the U.S. and UK governments’ lists of most problematic allergens—namely, eggs, milk and/or wheat—allergen control must be an area of focus for your business. And as much as good employee training and sanitation help on this front, you really need the features of industry-specific software to overcome this challenge.
Solution: Ingredient Segregation and Proper Labeling
Proper segregation of the materials with allergen concerns that you use is a necessity, as even trace amounts of those ingredients can lead to food safety emergencies for those who are susceptible. Meanwhile, it’s just as important that all of your products that involve those ingredients, as well as those manufactured in a space where cross-contamination is possible, are labeled accordingly.
The Product Specifications module of Aptean Food & Beverage ERP can aid tremendously in your efforts here, as all details—including important allergen information—can be captured in one integrated and highly accessible system for safe inventory management and clear ingredient declarations. Our system also offers complete bidirectional traceability so that you can quickly track any contaminations to their source and identify affected items.
Challenge 3: Supply Chain Disruptions
Food and beverage companies across the spectrum of sub-industries have had to learn to expect the unexpected when it comes to the splintered and sprawling supply chains of our era, and this is of particular concern in the bakery sector due to the aforementioned emphasis on freshness. Meanwhile, retail grocery demand remains high, putting the pressure on your operations to maximize productivity.
While some disruptions are unavoidable, you need to be proactive in your planning to ensure that you’re not caught without the supplies you need to manufacture products and fulfill customer orders. It’s also best if you can build in contingencies should the unexpected occur, and streamline the process of working with your supply chain partners to set your company up for success.
Solution: Enhanced Planning and Distribution
To help organizations like yours accurately align supply and demand, we developed the Production Planning module for Aptean Food & Beverage ERP, which helps you maintain the right balance by making sales order lines and current inventory highly visible to key stakeholders. Intuitive filtering makes it simple to identify which items require production activity, and alerts can be deployed if the balance is upset.
The Production Scenarios module gives you flexibility by allowing for different plans according to the situation at hand and lets you set which will be the primary and which will serve as back-ups. Meanwhile, our Vendor Item Catalogue module makes re-ordering easy, and the fast order entry functionality saves you valuable time and resources to be reallocated elsewhere.
Challenge 4: Changing Consumer Preferences
The proliferation of new product varieties in the bakery vertical is a key trend, with new low-carb, gluten-free and fortified options hitting the market all the time, as well as more indulgent and personalized items coming into vogue. To remain relevant as a brand and capture your slice of the audiences these items appeal to, you need to be able to iterate on ideas and launch new offerings quickly.
That’s not a given for every company, though, especially when the focus is on hitting the day’s plan attainment efficiently and maximizing the bottom line in delicate economic circumstances. Truth be told, though, those bakeries that rely on their lines that are currently popular and don’t put in the effort to keep up with changing tastes could be hampering their future profitability more than they know.
Solution: Streamlined New Product Development
Product lifecycle management (PLM) software is the solution you need to concept, formulate, test and perfect new baked goods tailored to emergent preferences among the buying public. These systems are the “single source of truth” that all of the various teams involved in new product development—from research and quality control to marketing—must have for a streamlined and successful process.
Aptean PLM Lascom Edition helps your company accelerate the time-to-market for your novel items by eliminating data siloes, facilitating interdepartmental collaboration and automatically generating ingredient lists and nutritional information necessary for packaging. The user-friendly interface also makes interacting with the platform intuitive, while the recipe and formula tools make dialing in on the right mix much easier.
Tackle Your Toughest Challenges with Aptean
Now you know some of the advantages of leveraging bakery software and other solutions that make up the full scope of food and beverage industry systems. We’ve highlighted individual features of our own solutions where relevant, but you should know that there’s more to love when you choose us as your provider.
First, you get a partner and guide for your digital transformation—our experienced team members offer their expertise during any system implementation and provide advice based on in-depth knowledge of best practices from our collective decades of food and beverage market experience. We know the challenges you face, including but not limited to those above, and are eager to help you overcome them.
What’s more, we make setting the foundation for your digital transformation easier by offering flexible cloud deployments of the award-winning Aptean Food & Beverage ERP on a Software as a Service (SaaS) model. That solution also carries the distinct advantage of unique, industry-specific technologies built on the Microsoft Dynamics 365 platform, which makes the software approachable and easy to use.
Now, if you’re ready to learn more about Aptean’s offerings that can help your bakery business clear the hurdles of your segment, contact us today. You can also request a personalized demo to see any of our software products in action.