As the food processing industry digitizes, facilities are introducing more automation, artificial intelligence, cloud computing, and machine learning.
This opens up opportunities for qualified people entering the industry for the first time. This is an opportunity to lead production facilities into the future by using your abilities to pick up and navigate new technologies quickly.
As businesses move away from pen and paper and toward digital tools, there are more opportunities to collect data. Access to so much information is new to food production companies, and many are unsure what to do with it.
So where does this leave you?
Factories have a lot of data that is being underused
Are you good at analyzing and understanding large amounts of data? Amazing! Food safety, continuous improvement, and manufacturing efficiency benefit from knowing how to use data. Freezer temperatures, line speeds, the amount of product created the amount of waste, product movement, and the number of times a piece of equipment needs cleaning are examples of data that can be used to improve operational efficiency and help to control costs. Ultimately, analytics can be used to drive profitability.
Today there are so many possibilities of what can be tracked. For example, inventory can be tracked and used to reduce food waste. Data can provide insight into historical and current inventory levels. If a facility has product sitting for an extended period, data-driven systems can notify the production team that something needs to be done before the product goes bad.
Food safety also benefits from digitalization
Food safety digitalization is already having a positive impact on the agri-food industry as a whole.
Food traceability is the ability to follow the movement of a food product and its ingredient from farm to fork. Traceability requires volumes of documentation that specify where produce is located at each stage of production, processing, and distribution. In the past, food tracing was done via paperwork- that’s a lot of paperwork! The biggest problem with that is that documents can get loss and adultered. Switching to a digital format solves these problems.
Going digital is a gamechanger for food safety. For example, if a product is recalled, digital audits are faster, and food safety experts quickly recall foods, reducing the risk of consumers getting sick.
Being digitally savvy is an asset. It is a skill set that is beneficial in all aspects of the industry. Finding ways to highlight this on your resume is an excellent way to impress potential employers.
Food Factories and Robotics and the Jobs of the Future
Being able to navigate technology isn’t just limited to navigating software but hardware as well. In the food processing industry, hardware often comes in the form of machines and robotics.
Robots are changing the face of the food and beverage sector. Simply search “food factory compilation” on YouTube to see hundreds of crazy and fascinating robots preparing our foods. This isn’t the future, it’s happening now.
Machines are appealing to employers and workers because they can perform difficult and unpleasant tasks that humans do not want to do. The use of robotics to replace more physically or mentally demanding tasks benefits everyone. Manually sorting produce on a production line, for example, can be mentally exhausting. Sorting requires a high level of concentration and is difficult to maintain for a long period of time. Robots, on the other hand, are capable of performing this type of work with high levels of precision and by taking over these more demanding jobs, people can focus on more mentally stimulating roles like operating, maintaining and applying the automation. As we continue into the future, we should expect that people are going to work collaboratively with machines. Some individuals will be working in the manufacturing plant doing complex tasks while others will directly work on creating and developing robots.
Jobs of the future include:
Training needed for robotics
It is not as simple as copying and pasting one’s way into these jobs. Visit Ontario Colleges to learn what skills and education are needed to navigate the robotics space. Ontario Colleges has a page dedicated to showing what someone can expect from a career in Robotics, Automation and Electromechanical Engineering. Robotics programs are available at the following colleges:
Seneca College of Applied Arts and Technology