Packaging operatives work on the machines and production lines that put finished food and drink products such as biscuits, crisps, soup, soft drinks and chocolate bars into containers, cans or packets. These may then be packed into larger boxes or crates. Job titles vary between companies, with some operatives being referred to as machine technicians, and others known as packers if the finished product is packed by hand.
The manufacture of food products is a highly mechanised process. Consequently, the job is likely to consist of adjusting the settings of machines to handle the change from one type of product, or shape and size of container, to another. Packaging operatives are also trained to identify errors and correct the machines as soon as a fault develops.
In large factories packaging operatives ensure that the machines are loaded with supplies and run smoothly. They remove any damaged goods and clean the machines ready for each new batch.
Operatives usually work 37 to 40 hours a week on a shift system, often including weekends. Overtime is common during busy times. Part-time positions are often available.
Factories can be hot or cold, depending on the product being made. Protective clothing is worn at all times and operatives must follow health and safety rules.
There can be a lot of lifting, carrying and loading in this job.
To be a packaging operative in the food and drink industry, you should:
The food and drink industry is the United Kingdom’s largest manufacturing sector, employing over half a million people. Some factories are large, employing over 500 staff, while others are small, family-run companies.
Openings for school-leavers and experienced adult workers are good, though some work may be seasonal.
With experience it is possible to be promoted to supervisory and even managerial grades, as recruitment for these posts is often internal.
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