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?
In the first place, of course the coronavirus crisis is affecting our internal organization, i.e. we must protect our employees in the best possible way, which is why we have adopted a whole series of measures: mobile working, increased safety distancing, videoconferences instead of face-to-face meetings, and new models of working may be mentioned as just a few examples.
As far as the market is concerned, we currently see a further trend towards large plants. “One-stop shopping” in big supermarket chains is also spurring on the need for large industrial plants. On the other hand, unfortunately, smaller businesses are facing a very tough battle with the current situation, because they often rely on individual sales outlets such as cafés or street vendors, which are closed due to the current pandemic.
Are there any impacts on supplies and installations?
We are currently still in the fortunate position in which we can say that our business processes and supply chains still function very well. Internally, we are very well positioned as a result of organizational adjustments. Externally, i.e. in relation to supplies of materials, we currently also have no difficulties and continue to be supplied properly and with the appropriate numbers of items, which is why up to now we see no significant impacts here either. Thus at the present time there is no danger to any customer projects, and we continue to make deliveries. That can change at any time, however, which is why we are currently very vigilant in this respect. We also take into consideration the risk countries according to the RKI (Robert Koch Institute).
How are coronavirus measures affecting service?
Here again, there are no significant limitations. We rely mainly on remote services in risk regions according to the RKI. In this context, for example, we use an augmented reality headset to give the best possible support to customers at the plant on site. Initial deployments were already highly successful. Via local subsidiary companies, we also still have the MULTIVAC service network on the spot, which has already undertaken FRITSCH’s service activities since 1.1.2020. Thus it allows us to provide very good service to our customers even despite the current challenging situation.
What is the current situation for your raw materials supplies?
Currently, there are no restrictions here either. Moreover, as a food machinery manufacture, the BMEL (German Federal Food & Agriculture Ministry) classifies us as system-critical, and our suppliers know that and accordingly give us very good support.
Have you announced short-time working/have you needed to lay off staff?
No, quite the contrary. As already stated, we currently see a high demand for industrial bakery machinery, and are a long way from short-time working at present.
Do you have special offers for your customers in view of the coronavirus crisis?
As already mentioned, the coronavirus crisis is having a big impact on small and medium-sized bakers at present. To support them, we created the #saveourbakers campaign on our social media channels. The campaign aims to draw attention to the situation of small and medium-sized bakers, and to show that the favorite local baker is also there for his customers even during this crisis. Bakers are also developing really fantastic initiatives for this, about which we will gladly report in the context of the campaign.
What are your plans for the period after coronavirus?
Corona “compelled” us to use new ways to collaborate. Wherever this functions, we will also enable it in the future as well. It has become apparent that it is not always necessary to come together at a single point to achieve very good results. For example, our company will continue to offer machine acceptances in the factory by video, and will also focus further on remote services. We are currently able to extensively test and optimize the latter.
The article is part of an extended feature, which was originally published in [BBI 3 – 2020]. Read the full article in the magazine: