Otis Spunkmeyer bakery automation
Automation can be controlled by one of three Allen-Bradley PLC controls in the bakery.

'AIM'-ing for the highest quality

When looking at that cookie crossroads, convenience is a huge factor in the equation. Recognizing this, Otis Spunkmeyer recently launched its grab-and-go No Funky Stuff portfolio, including Chocolate Chunk cookies, Iced Lemon loaf cakes, Cinnamon Crumb loaf cakes and Mini Brownie Bites, for distribution into c-stores.

At the bakery in Alsip, Ill., Otis Spunkmeyer produces on average almost 1 million cookies a day, including chocolate chunk, chocolate/chocolate chunk and oatmeal raisin, for distribution across the U.S. and Canada. That’s about half of all No Funky Stuff foods. “The No. 1 thing that sets us apart is the way our employees understand how many people they touch in a given day,” said Robert Mina, vice-president, operations, for Aryzta.

To ensure that Otis Spunkmeyer is efficiently producing the highest-quality foods, the facility participates in Aryzta Integrated Management Systems (AIMS), a series of 26 different programs developed to focus specific areas of operations for internal quality control. This process is used across Aryzta’s 25 U.S. bakeries, six of which produce Otis Spunkmeyer foods. “It’s something that we devised as a company several years ago in an effort to get all the bakeries on the same platform of ­operation,” Mr. Mina said.

Whether it’s sanitation, maintenance, HACCP, GMP, security, food and employee safety, or vendor management, AIMS provides one cohesive, streamlined operations system for any type of Otis Spunkmeyer product. “It allows a broader connection between what’s happening on the floor, in management and at the executive ­level,” Mr. Mina explained. “AIMS gives people the visibility to see and understand what’s going on when they can’t be there in person all the time.”

Through this system, Mr. Mina can access any bakery in the U.S. or Canada to see management logs, workbooks and any corrective action documents.

At Alsip, employees are trained on quality control standards, and food is periodically removed from the line for quality checks based on custom specifications including weight, depth and diameter. Cookies are checked and graded on a color-coded system. If the food is out of spec, operators can make adjustments on the line via one of three Allen-Bradley control panels.

Additionally, foods go through sensory testing, and trained employees grade the food before releasing it to ship. In addition, HACCP records are identified prior to releasing any foods from the bakery.

To keep everyone on the same page, each shift (the bakery runs three shifts six days a week) has a 30-­minute overlap, where leads and supervisors can discuss any challenges and opportunities from the previous shift. And quality control personnel spend about half an hour each morning reviewing the prior day’s production before any foods leave the bakery.