Wasted Labour + Skills Shortages + Stunted Growth = Production Line Anarchy in the UK

Updated: Feb 5, 2021

How these factors are causing Production line Anarchy in the UK

What type of labour force will be available post Covid, and post Brexit? Humans at the production line are an expensive resource that can and should be redirected or left to natural attrition. Not everyone will either have the correct skillsets or be prepared to work on a production line that has a perception of, little job satisfaction in a new normal world.

Where is the innovation and competitive advantage, in managing efficiencies and costs, for food production companies going to come from?

Having owned and run sales, service and manufacturing businesses for nearly three decades, I have counselled and consulted with hundreds of UK companies around their production line efficiencies. In some instances, cost savings amounted to hundreds of thousands of pounds simply by identifying clear and blatant inefficiencies and utilising labour and skills to best increase the profits of the business.

Taking the waste out of your process

There can be a lot of time wasted in the food production process. This time wastage can often be the result of manual processes that rely on people. At times, manual processes, especially around coding, can result in a highly inefficient system that ultimately costs your company money, particularly where output is restricted due to production operatives natural pace.

Achieving operational excellence by gaining automated production line efficiency can be seen as a costly and lengthy process, but not when compared to the cost of manual inefficiencies. New and inexpensive innovation can be employed to achieve operational excellence.

In the food industry, maximising the uptime of Flow-wrappers, Vertical Form Fill & Seal, Labellers, Carton Erectors, Shrink-wrappers etc. by integrating the coding and traceability system, is crucial to a smooth and efficient production process. Senior managers cannot be expected to know every development of every component used in a production line to enhance their operation. It is essential that you partner with coding system experts who are able to see how to improve your production line efficiencies and incorporate simple, stand-alone systems to ensure efficient deliverables.

Wasted Labour

Your food production line requires a core permanent workforce, and often temporary workers are utilised in peak times, or as a permanent fluid floating addition, to accommodate planned and unplanned employee absence. These temporary workers are usually employed at a higher cost through agencies and have differing skill levels requiring varying training needs.

In addition, there are the hidden or “unseen costs” in human resources results in high costs for a business. Dealing with staff issues such as illness, holidays, staff turnover, and the time needed to train new employees is onerous to an organisation. And of course, there is always the concern of human error in the production process, all of which result in a reduction in efficiencies and an increase in the associated cost.

If you could utilise labour in places where they could be of more value, reduce the need to bring new people into the business, reduce training and overheads, and allow people the opportunity to grow in your business by automating processes in the most efficient way possible, the possible food production line anarchy that is anticipated can be avoided.

You can also eradicate your temporary workforce by investing in equipment that fills the needs previously left to humans. The initial cost of the asset spread out over its life (with depreciation), or even supported by low cost funding options, works out to be a huge cost-saving when compared to relying on a manual and temporary workforce.


How many times has a business “dodged a bullet” by catching things before they go awry?

What would be the cost to your business as well as the hidden cost of reputational damage? Traceability enables corrective actions to be implemented quickly and effectively when something goes wrong. Having automated codes or marks is vital so that if there is a problem with the product at the consumer end, the traceability of the equipment and software can go back to the original component source.

Automating traceability through coding is essential so human error is removed.

While human checks rely on small sample groups, automatic recognition programmes ensure each item has the correct code and is able to verify it. You can also ensure the software works to send the correct production information for primary, secondary and tertiary coding, to the right place, at the right time

Turn your ‘Dead-Time’ around

Have you done a proper assessment of the efficiency of your production line, especially related to non-productive time or dead-time?

These days businesses that want to run an efficient food production line, need to partner with a company that does an assessment of the production line efficiencies relevant to the traceability and compliance coding. These companies also need to look at the direct and indirect labour costs of dead time and assist with automated solutions to drive higher efficiency.

By enhancing your production line with the correct equipment, you can experience significant increases in output alongside increasing profitability.

Rather look at a process where dead-time of labour is eradicated, and up-time is maximised. Correct resources and equipment is no good to make sure the production line operates at its most effective.

Produce More, Cost Less

Manual production lines are limited to the speed at which a human can work. As an example, hand labels on secondary coding can generally only put 8 to 12 labels on at a time. Automating this process can significantly increase the output generated by 400%, With this saving in time and manual labour, employees can then be used more efficiently for other more productive tasks.

Producing more and costing less in the times we’re working in is required. With the impact of events such as Covid and Brexit, and the resulting skills shortages and stunted growth. Business strategy should be focused on efficiency and cost-saving.

So what does this mean practically? How effective is your current method of printing a code? Do you have the most efficient and up-to-date resource available to you? Does it reflect how your production has evolved and taken your future needs and business objectives into account? Do your current processes or equipment match the state-of-the-art equipment now available to you? These are vital questions to ask as we navigate the future of food production lines.

Given the volatile waters ahead, how are you making sure anarchy is not a part of your food production line?

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