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The rise in bakery automation

Distribution bakery fresh food grocery retail

There’s nothing quite like freshly baked bread. The mouth-watering aroma, the fluffy texture and golden crust of a warm slice topped with butter—it’s the ultimate comfort food.

But since many of us don’t have the time (or let’s face it, the culinary skills) to bake our own at home, we want that same fresh-from-the-oven goodness when we buy baked goods.

For commercial bakeries supplying our grocery stores, cafés and restaurants, this means time is of the essence.

They need to get products from the oven and out the door as fast as possible, so that they’re still optimally fresh when consumers take that first delicious bite. And to get the speed they need, bakeries can look to automation.

The right ingredients

Commercial bakeries have long used automation in their production processes, but the same can’t be said for the distribution side of things where speed is just as critical.

Typically, they rely on labor-intensive operations where employees pick and prep all orders by hand, since conventional automated systems were an impractical choice. The problem being that these systems typically run storage and order picking separately, which slows down the overall fulfillment process.

But now, bakeries have found the perfect ingredients for automation speed.

Robotic solutions now integrate product handling, storage and order picking into one solution. Fresh baked goods enter the system right from production—which then streamlines product flow all the way to the shipping dock. The system runs efficiently, 24/7, keeping a rapid stream of orders flowing out the door.

A recipe for success

Beyond boosting speed, these new automated systems also offer important benefits like order picking accuracy, reduced labor requirements, full product traceability, and better facility space utilization. This helps bakeries to:

  • Keep up with orders during seasonal peaks
  • Overcome labor shortages and minimize employee safety risks
  • Accommodate a wider product ranges 
  • Meet food safety requirements with full product traceability

The rise of this new breed of automation means commercial bakeries can handle their toughest distribution challenges, while satisfying consumer demand for quality-baked goods. And for bakeries focused on freshness, that might just be the best thing since sliced bread.

To learn more about the benefits of automation for bakery distribution, read the success story of bread and roll manufacturer Martin’s Famous Pastry Shoppe, Inc.®, or watch its automated system in action.

Author Derek Rickard

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