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Yamato: Speed, accuracy top of manufacturers’ agenda

21 September 2012

Efficiency and productivity have been the lifeblood of the food and drink industry since the industrial revolution. Getting products on the shelves of retailers across the country is a hugely complex operation and with so many moving parts, any minor problem can have a serious impact on a brand’s bottom line.

Along with the actual production of goods, the packaging process is the most important aspect of any food and drink manufacturing line. Ensuring that the correct volume of products are packed accurately and to a high quality is of the upmost importance to a brand. If it is done incorrectly brands can suffer from reputational damage that can take years to repair.

Take potatoes as an example. Throughout the supply chain they are at risk of damage; from the moment they are harvested right the way through to the packing stage. Indeed, according to the British Potato Council, excessive bruising is the single biggest cause of consumer complaint when it comes to purchasing potatoes. If excessive force is used during the weighing and packaging stage then consumers will not be happy.

Similarly, if a consumer buys two packs of crisps weighing 500grams and opens them to find 400grams in one pack and 600grams in the other, they are not going to be impressed with the brand’s consistency. Both these areas can mean that customer’s elect to purchase different brands which, in the worse case scenario, can have an impact on the bottom line.

Today, speed is of essence, which is placing an increased burden on the manufacturing, weighing and bagging lines. Any brand that can’t meet a retailer’s expectations in terms of quality, quantity and speed will lose out. With so many new products created each year, making the industry even more fiercely competitive, UK food and drink manufacturers find themselves in a position where it is vital that their operations are producing goods quickly and to a high standard.

Technology has helped achieve this over the years and has revolutionised the way that the food and drink industry operates. Where would we be today, without some of the machinery installed in factories across the UK? I imagine that there would be a lot of hungry people!

However, it is hugely important that increasing the speed of the production line does not impact the quality and accuracy of the packaged good in any way. In order to do that, we are seeing machinery manufacturers upping their games and introducing some truly revolutionary solutions which help brands and retailers get products on shelf quickly and to a high standard.

Retailers are demanding the very best from their suppliers, which is forcing manufacturers to improve their operations. Over the next few years, I believe we will see a number of changes in factories across the UK, which help lower operational costs, improve speed and accuracy, and ultimately, deliver a better, more accurately packed final product.

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