Streamline Your Workflow (or Cookie Baking) Using Data Collection

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Data Collection in the kitchen yields delicious baked goods!Last year, my wife and I wanted to purchase appliances, particularly an oven with a larger capacity. One thing lead to another, and many months later, we had a newly renovated, remodeled kitchen with all new appliances. If you’ve read any of my past blogs, you know all about my project. Let’s just say it was a bit more expensive than “just an oven.” Granted, I did all of the work, which saved a ton of money, but the oven was the catalyst to the entire project.

Why did we need a new oven? Number one: Thanksgiving…turkey, potatoes, squash, pies, calories, blah, blah, blah. Number two: Christmas cookies…and more Christmas cookies. Yes, I am man enough to admit it. I bake cookies. In fact, I enjoy it! Number three: I’m Italian. Need I say more? Being Italian, I need to feed a small country, but contrary to stereotyping, I do NOT have another kitchen in my basement. However, the capacity of the oven is it is important to me was the capacity of the oven and pushing through as much volume in the shortest period of time.

My wife and I have distinct baking methods. She makes single batches and takes her time. I do large volumes and work like I need to load a delivery truck that is 10 minutes late on its route. Both styles result in rather tasty treats, but why bother making a mess of the kitchen and heating up the oven for a couple of cookies? My wife will have one sheet in the oven, wait for the cookies to bake, and then place the next sheet in. I have three sheets in the oven, three sheets waiting to go in the oven, and three sheets ready to wait. I blame my mother…

I become a high-volume manufacturer—seasonally. I need to have all of my ducks in a row before I start the process. First I take an inventory of what I have on hand. Next, because of the seasonal nature of this endeavor, I will have to stock up the raw materials in order to meet the production schedule. Then, I have to plan on what to bake first, next, etc. It is all a matter of what can be frozen longer, what is more fragile, how the trays are kitted, and the availability of storage (freezer space). Does all of this sound familiar to you? So, what do you have, what are you going to make, and where are you going to put it? Sales forecasts will tell you what you need. Production planning will tell you how to make it, and WMS will tell you how to store it.

Walk through your warehouse, stockroom, or pantry. When was the last time you took an inventory, and is it accurate? Is there another bag of sugar hiding? How old is it? What do you need to buy? What is on sale? Should you buy more than you immediately need because of pricing concessions? Do you have room to store the materials as you go through the production cycle? Do you have room to store the finished goods? (I think I am keeping the economy alive as I just replaced my 35 year old chest freezer with an upright: more volume, better racking, and better storage.) Can you access the finished goods? Do you know how many you produced and where they are? Does the kitting/assembly process flow correctly?

We utilize our production and distribution experiences every day. Whether you are making millions of widgets or thousands of cookies, the processes are still pretty much the same: raw materials, production, finished goods, warehousing, assembly, and distribution. Purchase, plan, pick, build, store, sell, assemble, and distribute. Experience and utilizing accurate information are essential in any successful endeavor. Knowing what you have and what you need is essential to meet the growing demands of your expanding customer base while ensuring that you do not over-buy or over-produce. The worst thing to find is a bag of frozen cookies in April or product on your shelves after the sales cycle: you lost the sale, and the cost of goods is wasted and distributed to the items you did sell.

A good barcode and data collection system will feed the necessary data to your MRP or ERP systems. From there you can make the decisions that will make your customers happy and make your expenses thinner and bottom line fatter. Contact L-Tron to help you streamline your workflow to get the information you need to be successful.