The history of the Göbecke Bakery - or Bäckerei & Konditorei Göbecke - offers a great lesson in small-business resilience. This family-owned establishment has been preparing bread and cakes at its site on Hans Poeche Strasse in the German city of Leipzig for well over 100 years. During that time, it has survived extensive aerial bombing of the city during World War II and the Soviet occupation of Eastern Germany over the following four decades.
Today, the Göbecke Bakery is run by the fourth-generation, sister-and-brother team of Christine and Matthias Göbecke, who have managed to keep it up and running during the Covid-19 lockdown, with reduced working hours and careful management of employee shifts.
Now, they’re looking forward to getting back to full operations, while also keeping staff safe, using Smart Social Distancing technology built on Software AG's Internet of Things (IoT) platform. Says Christine Göbecke:
Just like so many other businesses, the current situation is tough for us and holds many challenges. Covid-19 hit us by surprise in the middle of March, with the closure of schools and a lockdown for the public, but the bakery had to stay open because we had to deliver bread and rolls to the population, so we never really closed. But the most important thing, to us, is that nobody on our staff got sick.”
Getting back to business
As lockdown eases, business is picking up, she says. Workers are returning to local offices. Hotels in the city, supplied by the bakery, are reopening to visitors. The bakery’s shop and bistro are seeing more foot traffic, too. The bakery has often provided Software AG with cupcakes and pastries for business events and staff from the software company’s Leipzig offices have long been regular customers - which is how it came to pilot the Smart Social Distancing solution.
This relies on smart badges worn by all members of staff close to their collar. These emit a short alarm if staff members come within 1.5 metres of each other and remain in proximity for more than 15 seconds. The badges interact with beacons placed at cluster points throughout the workplace and the data is processed through Software AG’s Cumulocity IoT platform.
When an alarm goes off, the ‘incident’ is registered on the system, which only authorized personnel - in this case, Christine Göbecke and her brother - can access via a mobile app. She says:
So I can log in on my iPad and see who is getting too close to each other, at which time of day. It might be the two girls in the pastry shop, or two staff baking bread in the back. And then we can talk to our employees and say, ‘OK we have to make this environment work, so we all need to change our behavior.’ It helps with our awareness, because we are a family business, we all know each other very well and our rooms here are quite small, so it’s good to have a reminder that we all need to take a step back.
Positive message to staff and customers
Smart Social Distancing was implemented at the bakery some five weeks ago and she feels it’s been a big success for the company. Should someone get sick, she adds, it offers a way to see who else they were in contact with at work, so that those involved can get tested.
Our employees are already very comfortable with this solution. And our customers feel safer, too, because this sends them a message that we take good care of our employees and our business environment and that’s very important to me as a business owner.”
The solution is also being trialled at Software AG’s own headquarters in Darmstadt, Germany, but could be applied to many different kinds of workplaces, says the company’s chief evangelist Bart Schouw.
We know that perhaps as much as 40% of the workforce must work in controlled spaces, in physical proximity with colleagues, in order to fulfill their job. So we will be looking especially at manufacturing, for workers on factory floors, and we see plenty of potential in the food production industry, too - but there are many, many more areas where this technology could be applied.