Is machine automation putting
food manufacturing jobs at risk?

It’s not a new question. Even before the 90s, when Terminator 2 introduced us to the idea of Skynet, humans were worrying about machines taking over the world. And with so many advancements in technology and automation, it does feel like there’s a very real possibility of machines replacing humans in the workplace – especially in manufacturing. But before deciding that robots are bad, here are just a few reasons why we should be embracing automation rather than fearing it.



Machines reduce the risk of contamination

Machines don’t cough and sneeze on food. They don’t carry as many germs, and they don’t have hair and skin cells falling from their bodies.

This means that using machines reduces the risk of contamination, which is especially important in the food manufacturing industry.
In 2018, a worker at Kerry Foods in Burton was convicted of planning to contaminate the food production line. Fortunately, this was prevented, but 18 months later, Kerry Foods lost their Tesco contract resulting in 900 job losses.

It was never confirmed whether the two events were linked, but it gets you thinking about just how serious the consequences could be if your food production line was contaminated.

Now we aren’t saying a single hair entering a food product will result in the same level of job losses. But with a global pandemic at the forefront of everyone’s minds, why take the risk that your products could be compromised.

By automating your lines, you could actually be preventing job losses, rather than creating them.


Automation creates jobs

As it stands, machines can’t design, programme or service themselves – those jobs still require humans.
In fact, the more that manufacturers embrace automation, the more jobs there are being created in robotics, engineering, programming, operations, data analysis, systems integrations, servicing and maintenance.


Applications of automated technology

There are examples of how automated technology is being used across almost every industry. Becker alone can provide numerous examples of how our pick and place technology is being used across different sectors.

  • In printing – to feed and transport paper sheets in offset printing machines
  • In plastics – to remove plastic products from automatic deep drawing and injection moulding plants
  • In electronics – to mount circuit boards and PC boards
  • In woodworking – to load and unload machines, gantry systems and hose lifters
  • In pharmaceutical – to make blister packaging
  • In food packaging – to place food into packaging, palletise goods, open bags and sacks for filling low-pressure equipment since 1885.





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