Labor shortages were top of mind for many in the bulk material handling world last month, as changes in supply chains presented unique challenges. Still, stories celebrating the future of manufacturing, detailing chemical advancements and even announcing the return of strong Halloween confectionery sales offered a cauldron-half-full outlook. Here are 9 stories to fill you in on what happened in bulk material handling last month.
Strikes at four Kellogg’s cereal plants last duration of the month
Oct. 1, 13, 27
On the first Tuesday of last month, 1,400 Kellogg’s workers went on strike at plants in Omaha, NE; Battle Creek, MI; Lancaster, PA; and Memphis, TN. Pay and benefits issues were at the forefront of the employees’ demands as Kellogg’s maintained throughout the month that their proposals have been “grossly misrepresented.” Ultimately, contract talks were set to resume on Nov. 2 and the company stated that it is not clear how the strike will affect the availability of cereal in stores.
Manufacturing ‘cool again,’ according to Forbes op-ed
The “wow factor” present in the manufacturing sphere when innovations of the 20th century were propelling society forward seemed to diminish in recent decades, but an article from Forbes last month made the case that manufacturing’s “coolness credentials” may not be so lost after all.
Citing everything from space travel to advancements in fighting climate change, what takes manufacturing “to the next level” is “how the daily work of manufacturing itself is undergoing a bold reimagining of people's roles,” CEO of Bright Machines Amar Hanspal said in the piece. Both for those who enjoy solving puzzles and those who are empathetic enough to face “customer-facing” roles, Hanspal explained the manufacturing field should be celebrated.
Glass found in snack product prompts nut and trail mix recall
Last month cashew nuts and trail mix products were recalled in 12 different states after glass pieces were found in a product from SunTree Snack Foods LLC. The company recalled lots of cashew and trail mix products sold under the Harris Teeter, HEB, Happy Belly, and Price & Spring brands.
Recalls can be disheartening, but systems with track and trace abilities can save on the costs of scrapping large amounts of material. Our free guide detailing the AZO COMPONENTER® can be found here.
Companies announce initiative to advance circular plastics
The way that the building blocks for chemical products used in everyday materials are created may change thanks to Technip Energies and Siemens Energy. The two European companies announced an exclusive agreement to partner in developing, commercializing and licensing the Rotating Olefins Cracker (ROC) technology that decarbonizes olefin production processes. Laboratory testing is already underway, and the first turbomachinery prototype is expected to enter shop testing during the first half of 2022.
Frito Lay announces plans to hire significantly more workers
When consumer demand is particularly strong, meeting it with more supply chain and frontline sales employees becomes advantageous. So was the aim of Frito-Lay, a division of PepsiCo, as they announced Oct. 7 that investments are contributing to hiring 15,000 new employees of this stature. From now until the end of the year, more than 5,000 roles are actively being filled, according to the company.
Labor shortages influencing product innovation highlighted during Baking & Snack podcast episode
Amid a conversation about various challenges within the baking industry on the Baking & Snack podcast, the president of Weston Foods also addressed how their company has handled recent challenges relating to labor availability. On the Oct. 20 episode of “Since Sliced Bread” Luc Mongeau said that Weston has actually created space for product innovation through this time.
“The demands that we’re seeing from operators link to labor shortages and supply chain issues,” he said during the episode. “They’re really asking for tons of options … that are easier to prepare and require less labor. The challenge is how can you provide superior solutions that require a bit less work to prepare, and at the same time, deliver the same great experience as a product that is fully finished on-site.”
If your company is looking for ways to innovate through such labor shortages in your industry, AZO offers several bulk material handling solutions that can help. As consumers’ tastes have “evolved throughout the pandemic,” as Mongeau said during the podcast, the time to answer these demands most effectively could be at this moment.
Halloween candy sales crushed 2020 as well as 2019 numbers
Stats from the National Confectioners Association (NCA) confirmed last month that the sales of both chocolate and non-chocolate candy increased not just over last year, but over 2019 as well. $324 million was spent during a specific four-week period on candy, a 48% increase over 2020. This is a 60% increase over 2019. The NCA received notice of this likely increase after the organization conducted an online survey back in June. The survey revealed that 87% of people intended to buy the same amount, if not a greater amount of candy for Halloween in 2021.
IEN op-ed explains why we shouldn’t go back to pre-COVID supply chains
In the wake of COVID affecting the entire manufacturing industry for more than a year and a half, an op-ed in Industrial Equipment News made the case for businesses to continue to ensure their supply chain requirements can exceed “seemingly impossible expectations.” The piece supported global production and embraced “smarter supply chains.” It is Imperative” for companies to embrace this change, according to the piece, “even partially, from global warehousing to global production in order to overcome supply chain disruptions and sustain themselves for years to come.”
U.S. chemical production experiences mixed results, but declines
As most manufactured goods are produced using chemistry at some level, chemical demand many times can be indicated by manufacturing activity. Results reported last month showed that chemical production in September was mixed. Chemical Engineering reported that the U.S. Chemical Production Regional Index (U.S. CPRI) fell by 1.5%.
Chemical production was reportedly mixed and showed an improving trend in the production of synthetic rubber, manufactured fibers, other specialty chemicals, fertilizers, crop protection chemicals, adhesives, coatings and consumer products. Still, weakness in organic chemicals, plastic resins, basic inorganic chemicals, and industrial gases offset these results.
Handling materials is our world at AZO. If you have any other questions or concerns regarding material handling, feel free to contact our sales team. Recently we’ve posted a variety of content related to keeping in line with critical dust hazard management practices. We have more than seven decades of experience in the ingredient automation world and have added tons of other topics also covered at length on our blog.