Everything that is currently doing the rounds about estimates of the coronavirus pandemic’s impacts is still derived from past global crises, and is not very specific or relates only to individual sectors. baking+biscuit
asked around and heard assessments of the crisis by suppliers to the industry, and how they are responding to it.
Signals from the baking sector differ as much as the structure of the businesses themselves. News reports day after day carried photos showing empty bread shelves. While trade suppliers activated all their spare production capacities, the situation among artisans, catering and chain stores looked quite different.
By using to-go concepts and deliveries, companies with a large proportion of catering were forced to attempt almost overnight to prevent the turnover collapse becoming life-threatening. Moreover, all the artisans suffered from consumers reducing their shopping trips and visiting as few businesses as possible, which tended to favor the food retail and prepacked goods on bread shelves.
“Please maintain social distancing” is the order of the day in shops. All those that have them use drive-in counters. In double-quick time, others open a pop-up drive-in at a former filling station. Opportunities to cushion losses are also available on the web. It’s the age of online stores and delivery services.
How bakery machine constructors are dealing with the crisis
How is the coronavirus crisis affecting your company?
Currently, not yet so dramatically. We had a fantastic inflow of orders in the three months before the crisis, but were no longer able to execute deliveries planned for February to April, and these plants are standing in the warehouse ready for dispatch. So we have enough to do as soon as restrictions are eased and our customers accept external companies into their premises again. We were also no longer able to carry out a whole series of trial installations (mobile vacuum plants accompanied by our applications specialists to demonstrate the financial and product-specific operating benefits in the potential customer’s business). These test operations are the precursor to the conclusion of a successful sale, and future acquisitions will certainly be delayed as a result. We have reconciled ourselves to a difficult period of at least six months, but we assume we can withstand a period of this kind without any crisis-related lay-offs.
Are there any impacts on supplies and installations?
We have put all outstanding deliveries, installations and service/maintenance contract fulfillments on hold until further notice. Third-party companies’ service technicians are allowed into production facilities only in an emergency (breakdown service) – and subject to very strict guidelines. As we already said, we have plants that were ordered in storage in our warehouse, fully assembled, and are in a position to install them promptly when called for by our customers.
How are coronavirus measures affecting service?
We guarantee the customary reliable service (24 hours / 7 days/week) even in the current difficult situation. In conjunction with a modem for remote diagnostics, we still guarantee a maximum two-hour response time.
What is the current situation for your raw materials supplies?
The supply of raw materials (in our case, components for final plant completion) also has long-term security, perhaps to some extent with slight delays.
Have you announced short-time working/have you needed to lay off staff?
Like all other businesses, we immediately set up a cost management strategy to secure the company’s future. Registering short-time working is also a component of this measure. Our principal aim is not only to safeguard the company’s liquidity, but also and most particularly the active retention of our employees, since that is the only way we can continue to offer our clients the customary high standard of quality after the crisis has been overcome.
Do you have special offers for your customers in view of the coronavirus crisis?
We are convinced that a high degree of solidarity is necessary, especially in crisis situations. Since solidarity strengthens us all, we are making our contribution in the form of a 20% discount on all service work and existing service/maintenance contracts, with immediate effect and until 31.12.2020.
What are your plans for the period after coronavirus?
We are contacting our existing and potential customers to find a suitable time to resume discussions that were interrupted, to gradually work through all trial installations that were booked and are still outstanding and, together with our customers, to develop strategies regarding how costs that have arisen due to the coronavirus crisis can be earned back and thus compensated by the targeted use of Cetravac’s vacuum conditioning and the considerable wage, process & energy cost savings and state subsidies associated with it. Then, preparations for the Südback trade fair, which hopefully will still take place and at which we want to present some pioneering new developments, are also coming to the fore again. Unfortunately, we had to cancel our workshop planned for mid-May, which had aroused an unexpectedly high level of interest. However, we will attempt to fix a substitute date in the fall or in the spring of 2021.
The article is part of an extended feature, which was originally published in [BBI 3 – 2020]. Read the full article in the magazine: