Ways To Think About The Human Element In Food Manufacturing
It is so refreshing to be able to go back out to our favorite restaurants, to grill some meat and vegetables out in the backyard surrounded by family and friends, and to stop by our daily must-have local bakery or coffee shop and share a smile and a quick breakfast with the owner.
Then, of course, it’s back to business. Ingredient Exchange has got you covered with some pertinent topics to think about as we all get back into the groove of things.
To Open, Or Not To Open, That Is The Question
We’ve all witnessed some of our favorite businesses reopening. We’ve also all been saddened by seeing some of our favorite ones remain closed, perhaps forever. And we’ve all been confused by some places amending their hours to times that seem hardly recognizable. Be that as it may, businesses at all levels of food production and service have had to analyze carefully what times to be open, if at all.
Companies as large as Walmart have had to take a deep look at their operating hours and have amended them as they see fit. It can be very difficult to know what the ideal hours of operation are, but data analysis of peak times (daily, seasonally, etc.) can help you gain an accurate picture. Understanding your workforce is also an effective tool. Where are their strains, and what are their strengths? These are questions to get answers to while you’re deciding the prime times for your business to remain open.
Open Up Your Checkbook
It has been a cliche for a long time now in the food industry that workers get paid much too little for their services. Most of us complain that we should get paid more, and most of us know that the best way to hold onto quality employees is to compensate them handsomely. This, of course, can lead to lower profit margins and possible bidding wars with competitors.
There are alternative forms of compensation to consider that may help not only to retain quality employees, but also to preserve your vulnerable cash flow. Gym memberships, extra vacation time, delayed signing bonuses, and other tactics have been used by employers and have shown themselves to be mutually beneficial for employers and employees alike.
Like it or not, technology is here to stay. Not only that, but its use is only going to increase, exponentially. It started with digital cash registers and Google Maps, and now there are robots at every level of large-scale food manufacturing. Their efficiency is undeniable, especially when it comes to repetitive tasks. There are even robots that will predict future orders based on a multitude of factors. This reintroduces a question that has been around for awhile: how much of food production can be done by technology? Automation doesn’t initially seem to lend itself to the growing “farm to table” trend, but the two have been integrated in some very interesting ways.
Although “farm to table” and “the slow food movement” have many good qualities, efficiency may not be one of them. Technology can help with that. From automating distribution to regulating water supply, computers could play a key role in aiding small farms and food companies.
There may even be robots in our favorite restaurants, particularly when it comes to the more basic aspects of food preparation. Slicing and dicing vegetables, grilling a burger, or even preparing a salad are all tasks that robots have already shown they can perform quite well.
There are several downsides and things to think about when it comes to bringing more and more technology. First, there may be a large up-front cost when switching over any aspect of your business to a new technology. Second, depending on just how much technology you integrate and how complicated it gets, you may have to think about having a full or part-time person on staff who deals with such tech issues. And, third, there is always the danger of losing customers because of a perceived lack of that ‘human touch’.
Just some ideas to roll around in your head….
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