Baking & Snack - September 2015 - 34

for Adaptability
Successful site planning starts
with understanding how to
meet the baking industry's
ever-changing demands.

ing a number of value-based decisions, including location,
level of automation, desirability of sustainable design features and the strategy to pursue some form of certification.
Additionally, within this planning process, it is imperative for bakers to take the increasing burden of regulatory
oversight into consideration

Location and logistics
by Mike Pierce, The Austin Co.


The ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus is quoted as saying, "The only constant is change." While flour, yeast, water and salt are still used to make bread like they were in
Heraclitus' time, change - and the ever-present need to
change - is a constant challenge to the baking industry.
When it comes to making the investments necessary
to compete and survive in this industry, bakers must
address many trends. They need to apply flexibility and
adaptability in facility planning and design to respond to
rapid changes. Understanding market fluctuations and
regulatory issues is critical to the long-term value of a
new project.
For bakers competing for space in the bread aisle,
there has been a significant shift away from the mega
plants to smaller regional plants with one to three product lines. This shift is a result of many changes, including
labor, cost of fuel, the need to be closer to the market,
and asset diversification. Smaller plants allow for market regionalization and, therefore, greater visibility for
management as to what is happening locally. They can
respond to changes before demands pass them by; they
can be more nimble.
With regional plants, the planning process involves mak-

34 Baking & Snack September 2015 /

Strategic site location decisions can be vital to the successful outcome of a new facility. For bakers serving a
large multi-state region from one facility, many factors
affect the evaluation of competing sites.
States compete for business with incentives on labor,
development costs, tax abatements and utility discounts.
It is smart to optimize the incentive packages from competing states and communities, but it rarely is a good
idea to base a plant location decision solely on incentives. Logistics play a huge role.
Beyond fuel prices, transportation costs have been affected by many factors in recent years. Increases in tolls,
hours of operation regulations and availability of drivers
and equipment have all raised trucking costs.

Automating for stability
It used to be that bakeries had stable workforces with
employees who knew the equipment and systems used
in their plant almost intuitively. Changes in the labor
market have changed that workforce stability.
Automation fills the gap in a way that provides bakers with more consistent and reliable processes. It also
provides data feedback to correct variables before they
affect product quality.
And while automation can reduce headcount, it

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Baking & Snack - September 2015