Packaging and Filling Machine Operators
On the Job
Packaging and filling machine operators run machines to produce or wrap products.
The Jelly Belly Candy Company, located in Wisconsin and maker of the famous Jelly Belly jelly beans, can make 100,000 pounds of Jelly Belly beans per day. That's 50 tons of jelly beans, in just one day! This translates to 347 beans a second. Where do all these beans go? Before they go to the customer, they first have to be packaged up and shipped. This is where packaging and filling machine operators come in.Packaging and filling machine operators create a variety of products. For example, they stuff sausage meat into casings, add potato chips to bags, or put plastic wrap around rolls of paper towels. Operators use different machines for these and many other products. Regardless of the type of machine operators run, they have several tasks in common.
Machine operators make sure they have packaging materials and a supply of items to be packaged. Then they start the machines and adjust controls as needed. For example, they adjust the speed of machines and the amount of product added to packages. For some machines, operators control when packaging material, such as plastic wrap, is cut.
Packaging and filling machine operators observe machines to make sure they are operating properly. When items become jammed in machines, operators remove them. Once items are packaged, operators remove them from machines and stack them in cartons or containers. While doing this, they inspect the output. For example, they weigh potato chip bags to make sure they hold the right amount of chips. When they find items where the packaging is torn, irregular, or does not otherwise meet requirements, operators set those products aside. Operators may add identification labels to items and secure finished packages by hand.
Some operators keep records of the number of items they package each day. They may also record the number of finished items they rejected. They may code items by date if they are perishable. In addition to their other tasks, operators maintain their machines. They clean and oil them and make minor repairs. They must also follow strict sanitation procedures, especially when handling food items.
The following list of occupational tasks is specific to this career.
- Operate mechanisms to cut filler products or packaging materials.
- Remove packaged items from machine and separate rejected items.
- Adjust machine controls to change speed or amount of product released.
- Check stock of materials to be packaged or filled.
- Check stock of packaging materials.
- Start machine by engaging controls.
- Stop or reset machine when malfunctions occur and clear machine jams.
- Inspect products to determine if they meet standards.
- Clean, oil, and make minor repairs to machinery and equipment.
- Stack packaged items or pack them in cartons or containers.
- Count and record finished and rejected packaged items.
- Attach identification labels to finished items.
People in this career perform the following list of tasks, but the tasks are common to many occupations.
- Control machines and processes.
- Handle and move objects.
- Inspect equipment, structures, or materials.
- Monitor events, materials, and surroundings.
- Identify objects, actions, and events.
- Perform activities that use the whole body.
- Get information needed to do the job.
- Communicate with supervisors, peers, or subordinates.
- Make decisions and solve problems.
- Evaluate information against standards.
- Process information.
- Estimate sizes, quantities, time, cost, or materials needed.
- Judge the value of objects, services, or people.
- Update and use job-related knowledge.
- Document and record information.
- Analyze data or information.
- Coordinate the work and activities of others.
In a typical work setting, people in this career:
- Have a medium level of social contact. They usually work with others.
- Are responsible for coworkers' health and safety.
- Are responsible for work outcomes and results of other workers. They monitor production, and inspect products to determine if they meet standards.
- Communicate with coworkers daily in person.
- Work in a group or as part of a team.
- Almost always work indoors. They may work in warehouses without heat or air conditioning.
- Are exposed to hazardous equipment daily.
- Are exposed to contaminants on a daily basis. Packaging and filling machine operators can reduce the risk by following safety procedures.
- Are exposed to sounds and noise levels that are distracting and uncomfortable on a daily basis.
- Always wear protective or safety attire.
- Are frequently exposed to hazardous conditions, such as high voltage electricity.
- Are often exposed to hazardous situations that may produce cuts or minor burns.
- Work near coworkers. They may share work space, but usually have a few feet of space separating them from others.
- Must be exact in their work. Errors could seriously endanger coworkers.
- Must allow the work pace to be set by the speed of the equipment or machinery.
- Repeat the same physical activities, such as stacking finished packaged items.
- Make decisions on a weekly basis that strongly impact coworkers. They consult supervisors for some decisions, but make most without talking to a supervisor.
- Are able to set some tasks for the day without consulting with a supervisor.
- Are often required to meet strict deadlines. They usually keep records of the number of items they package each day.
- Generally work a standard 40 hour week.
- May work eight- or ten-hour shifts.
Physical Work Conditions
In a typical work setting, people in this career:
- Use hands to handle, control, or feel objects, tools, or controls.
- Stand for long periods of time.
- Repeat the same motions.
- Bend or twist their body.
- Walk or run for long periods of time.
- See details of objects that are less than a few feet away.
- Use fingers or hands to grasp, move, or assemble objects.
- Hold the arm and hand in one position or hold the hand steady while moving the arm.
- Make quick, precise adjustments to machine controls.
- Speak clearly so listeners can understand.
- Hear sounds and recognize the difference between them.
- Use muscles to lift, push, pull, or carry heavy objects.
- Move two or more limbs together (for example, two arms, two legs, or one leg and one arm) while remaining in place.
- Adjust body movements or equipment controls to keep pace with speed changes of moving objects.
- Focus on one source of sound and ignore others.
- Use stomach and lower back muscles to support the body for long periods without getting tired.
- See details of objects that are more than a few feet away.
- Understand the speech of another person.
- React quickly using hands, fingers, or feet.
- Be physically active for long periods without getting tired or out of breath.
- Make fast, repeated movements of fingers, hands, and wrists.
- Choose quickly and correctly among various movements when responding to different signals.
- See differences between colors, shades, and brightness.
- Move arms and legs quickly.
- Bend, stretch, twist, or reach out.
- Determine the distance between objects.
- Use muscles for extended periods without getting tired.
- Coordinate movement of several parts of the body, such as arms and legs, while the body is moving.
- Keep or regain the body's balance or stay upright when in an unstable position.
People in this career frequently:
It is important for people in this career to be able to:
It is not as important, but still necessary, for people in this career to be able to:
Source: Minnesota Department of Education.