Today’s Food Processing industry has been transformed with the latest advances in technology. It’s miles ahead of where it was even ten years ago. For the most part, it’s been for the better. Factories that benefit from automation can improve productivity and operational efficiency.
When things go wrong, newer factories have also benefited from improved traceability. It makes recalling batches of products easier. Instead of recalling an entire month’s worth of products, sometimes only a week’s batch needs to be recalled. Updates in traceability systems have also led to vast improvements in key operations. A manufacturer can identify weak points faster and work on them before they cause any major issues.
Automation has also eliminated a lot of manual tasks that used to be associated with food processing. In other words, it’s the machines that are doing all of the heavy lifting, not us. There’s less need for workers to carry out back-breaking manual handling tasks. There’s less of a physical strain on workers so the likelihood of OHS issues arising also decreases.
One of the many deterrents for food processors choosing automation is the cost. It can cost millions to automate even one step of food production. What a lot of food processors don’t understand is how much they’re already losing out on. Speeding up production can increase profitability. With fewer OHS issues to worry about, a food processor can reduce the costs of maintaining a workforce. Less manual handling tasks can lead to fewer incidents and lower insurance premiums. This is also an important part of your plant’s Risk management Strategy.
If your food processing business is looking to automate, then you’re taking a step in the right direction. Automation systems are designed to improve the way your factory operates. The hardest decision to make with automation is where to start. That’s why it’s best to weigh up the solutions of automation and see which one your factory can benefit from the most. Follow our in-depth guide to the benefits of automation to help you make a better decision on what to improve next. It is wise to also consider your risk assessments which will provide guidance on which improvements will reduce risk in your business. Consider all five jeopardy areas:
1. Worker Safety
2. Food Safety
Consistent quality and output
With new automation systems in place, you can achieve more consistent results with your food products. Why is this so important? Any successful product thrives on consistency. Your customers choose your product because of its great qualities. If one of those qualities isn’t up to scratch it can become an instant deterrent. Does your product always have the same look and appearance? Automation in a production process is one of the easiest and fastest ways to ensure that consistency.
Consistent production output is another great advantage of automation. When it’s time to establish budgets and meet production deadlines, you can benefit from consistent production results. Relying on manual tasks can cause unpredictable results. Certain staff or teams may be able to perform tasks more efficiently than others. With automation in place, you eliminate any doubt in terms of output.
It’s also worth pointing out all the advantages of having more consistent product quality and output. For example, when your business is ready to expand and take on more supplier opportunities, you’ll need confidence in your factory’s output. With consistent results, you can accurately predict if your factory can take on increased production demand.
A safer work environment
Implementing automated machines into your production line can offer far more insights. You will get a more detailed view of every step. One of the hardest parts about reviewing workplace safety is finding the cause of an issue. One tiny kink in the chain can take countless hours to find and identify. With a fully automated system, you can identify an issue straight away by identifying the section of the production line that failed.
Automated systems can also improve safety by encouraging error-free production and consistency. When you have a consistent production output there’s less need to improvise on operations. Safety issues often arise when one area of production underperforms. To pick up the slack you will often find producers trying to cut corners to speed up production and make a deadline. Consistent production with automated machinery ensures everything runs smoothly without the need to improvise or make last-minute decisions.
A major decrease in manual handling is another great advantage of automation. There’s less chance of workers carrying out potentially dangerous or repetitive work that could lead to serious workplace injuries. Automation can also help prevent any production process from being mishandled. There’s less chance of foods being overheated, undercooked or contaminated when automated machines are the ones handling all these production processes for you.
With so much data available you can also identify where issues occur in food production. None more so than when a product recall is required. It’s one thing to identify exactly which batch of products requires a recall. It’s another to actually identify where things went wrong in the production process. This transparency can help you identify where a product was contaminated or damaged. This form of reporting can also be a great preventative measure. You can identify the cause of an issue and prevent it from happening again.
After improving traceability you can start to lower your regulatory compliance costs. This can be a massive win for your business. It’s further proof that investing in automation can deliver long-term benefits when it comes to managing the costs of your operations.
Improve your workforce with NFI
Improving productivity requires more than just new technology. It’s best to take a holistic approach. Regardless of the technology used in a food processing business, you still need good staff on site. Here at National Food Institute, we provide quality training and assessment in Food Processing. We work closely with employers to develop training that improves work performance and positive production outcomes. Our goal is to make all staff effective risk managers at your business. In this way, we are also modernising food processing businesses around Australia. So as you look to modernise your business with new technology, make sure your workforce is up-to-date too. It’s a great solution for all involved. New training and technology can help steer your business towards continued growth and success.
Contact National Food Institute today to discuss your workplace training needs.