The higher minimum wage set for the US state of California will see more bakeries turning to automation and robots, says bakery equipment supplier All Bake Technologies.
The United States will raise the minimum wage in California to $10 per hour, up from $8 per hour, by 2016 – the first state in the nation to pledge such a rise. The law, which was signed last month, will see hourly wages go up to $9 per hour by July 2014 and $10 by January 2016.
Speaking to BakeryandSnacks.com at IBIE 2013 in Las Vegas, regional sales manager for All Bake Technologies Anthony Lucisano said that this would spark an automation age across the US bakery sector.
“I believe bakeries are going to lead more toward automation and machinery to do the jobs of workers, being as it is that it costs more money to pay them, and I think that trend will spread across to the east coast as well,” Lucisano said.
This reliance on automated machinery and robots will very much be a trend for the future across bakeries in the US, he said, both on an industrial scale and in retail bakeries.
And there are clear benefits, he added, as “they’re more reliable and they don’t fall out sick”.
But human skills still required…
Despite this inevitable shift to automation, Lucisano said there would still be challenges for bakery manufacturers to overcome that would need a human eye.
Quality and durability of these machines will be crucial, he said, along with the consistency of an end product.
“Finding people with the technical ability to work and service on the machines – that’s going to be the biggest issue, especially because most machines are European,” he said.
These workers will need to have skills to work on preventative maintenance, cleaning and replacement of parts, he added.
“Particularly if you’re in specialty trades, you’re definitely going to see an increase in demand for someone who knows specifics like this.”