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Bakers Summit

Baking with Confidence: Eric Muraguri on the Importance of Quality in Operations

Baking is a delicate art that requires precision, creativity, and, most importantly, a dedication to quality. In this episode of Bakers Summit, we have the pleasure of welcoming Eric Muraguri, the general manager at Bakels East Africa Limited, to share his insights on ensuring quality in bakery operations.

Quality is at the core of every successful bakery, as it sets the foundation for customer satisfaction, brand reputation, and ultimately, business success. Eric starts his presentation by addressing the fundamental question: What is quality? He emphasises that quality is multifaceted and can vary depending on different perspectives.

From a customer’s perspective, quality encompasses receiving a good service and product that is free from deficiencies and defects. Customers also appreciate products that have a “wow” effect and are safe for consumption. On the other hand, employees consider quality to include factors such as a good paycheck and a conducive work environment. Even the neighbours and other stakeholders have their own perspectives on quality, which may include pollution-free operations and minimal noise.

However, Eric highlights that when it comes to product quality, there is a defined process to follow. He introduces the PDCH cycle, which stands for Plan, Do, Check, and Act. This cycle outlines the steps necessary to ensure quality. Planning involves setting objectives and determining what needs to be done. Executing the plans with precision is the “Do” phase. Checking involves monitoring each step of the process to identify any deviations from the set specifications. Finally, acting entails making improvements based on the feedback received.

Eric then delves into the distinction between quality control and quality assurance. While these terms are often used interchangeably, they have important differences. Quality control focuses on identifying defects after they occur, while quality assurance takes a proactive approach to prevent defects from happening in the first place. Eric encourages bakers to prioritize quality assurance, emphasizing the importance of monitoring processes, knowing the quality of raw materials, and verifying compliance with standards and specifications.

In bakery operations, several crucial aspects contribute to overall quality. Production planning plays a key role in ensuring smooth operations and timely delivery. Effective planning helps prevent last-minute crises and ensures that suppliers can meet the demand for vital ingredients, such as yeast. Eric emphasizes that customers perceive quality based on timely delivery, as delays can lead to dissatisfaction and affect the brand’s reputation.

Raw material and ingredient supply is another critical area in bakery operations. Eric highlights that the quality of the end product is heavily dependent on the quality of the ingredients used. Establishing clear specifications for each ingredient, such as flour, is crucial. This includes understanding the type and quality of gluten in the flour, as well as other important characteristics that affect the baking process.

Eric strongly advises bakers to request a Certificate of Analysis (COA) when receiving ingredients. The COA provides essential information for setting equipment and ensuring optimal performance. Without this knowledge, bakers risk improper gluten development, which can lead to collapsed bread during proofing.

In addition to ingredient quality control, Eric emphasizes the significance of plant sanitation and overall operations management. Maintaining proper sanitation practices, waste management, and pest control are crucial to uphold product quality and adhere to safety standards. Effective personnel management, including regular medical examinations and appropriate uniforms, ensures that employees are in good health and minimize the risk of physical contaminants.

To optimize bakery operations and adapt to the ever-competitive market, Eric stresses the importance of support functions such as research and development (R&D). Having an R&D team that focuses on innovation and developing new products can help bakeries stand out from the competition and meet evolving consumer demands.

Take home: Eric Muraguri’s insights enlighten us on the multifaceted nature of quality in bakery operations. From customer satisfaction to employee well-being, quality permeates every aspect of the bakery business. By distinguishing between quality control and quality assurance, and by addressing essential areas such as ingredient supply and plant sanitation, bakers can confidently deliver products that meet or exceed customer expectations.

Baking with confidence means understanding that achieving quality in operations requires a proactive mindset, meticulous attention to detail, and a dedication to continuous improvement. With Eric Muraguri’s valuable expertise, bakers can take their craft to new heights and build a solid foundation for success in the bakery industry.

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