Is your business agile? Can the baking industry, in general, absorb and manage problems in the workplace as they arise?
The American Bakers Association wants to help you find out.
Innovation Agility in Manufacturing
Agility is vital to change and ability to adapt to problems within the workplace rapidly. In manufacturing, it’s imperative to continuously update and improve your process as you get feedback from the line.
Hosted by Jamie Murdock from Experient, IncuBAKER at ABA’s 2019 TechCon kicked off with an invitation to “get scrappy.”
Teams were formed by people of different backgrounds, different parts of the industry, and with varying years of experience. Each team had the entire supply chain represented: bakers, ingredients, milling, packaging, and equipment on each team.
They were then split into various types of challenges, including people challenges, production challenges, and process challenges.
They were invited to break down problems, come up with agile solutions and out-of-the-box ideas and then present them to the group.
Break it Down to Fix it
“Break things, allow the unthinkable to happen. Focus on the solution,” called out Murdock as he prepared the attendees to face some serious industry challenges. “Start ideating, defer judgment, encourage wild ideas, and stay focused on the topic.”
Team Slinky took the overall best innovation prize and, as a prize for knocking the socks off the judges, received socks from Bombas, an apparel startup with a mission to help outfit the homeless community. Their pitch focused on safety and processing to improve safety features at their plants for their employees.
“We looked at doing things like flex time before and after the holidays since that’s a high trouble area. We looked at apps that keep our employees engaged before and after the holidays and weekends,” said one of the Team Slinky leaders during their presentation.
“We go through and implement all that, and for results, we have decreased injuries. [In the end], we have increased morale and better happiness, and we’d have a higher quality final product.”
Other teams looked at issues with changeover. One came up with the idea of creating a series of videos all aimed at standardizing operating procedures and avoiding lost time in training. Another suggested having access to a modular factory on-demand to remain agile and reconfigure the factory to suit immediate needs.
Some of the contestants focused on how to train the next generation to take over current industry veterans by creating a database that employs gamification as they learn.
Bee in your Bonnet
The challenge brought out the innovation bug in the teams, who came up with all sorts of interesting and creative ways to keep themselves agile in the every-changing industry.
One team suggested 3-D printed cookies and the first cookie 3-D printer for your home and wholesale. There was also an edible packaging solution for the baking industry. One team went the nostalgic route and created an easy bake company (based on the ‘90s toy), where customers can customize their cookies to any shape or size and watch them get made on a conveyor belt.
Many of these innovations and solutions mirrored many of the panels in the conference, surrounding sustainability, best practices around safety and leadership, and of course, packaging and new technologies.
At the end of the challenge, Murdock said, while it felt like three hours wasn’t enough time, it was also the perfect amount of time as the shorter time frame fuels creativity to get to a solution faster. Most businesses don’t have the luxury of time.
The teams proved the real value of and capability for agility in the baking industry.
IncuBAKER was just one of the many innovative and exciting sessions at ABA 2019 TechCon. Learn more about other activities at TechCon 2019.