How a Transient Workforce Is Shaping the Secondary Packaging Industry

Published April 12, 2019

Each year, the consumer packaged goods (CPG) and secondary packaging automation (SPA) industries directly impact over 2 million jobs and 30,000 communities. CPG alone generates $8 trillion in global value annually. Within the next six years, that number will approach $14 trillion. Because every single person is a consumer of some type of CPG product, consumption and demand for these goods affects supporting industries and groups including packaging automation, the supply chain workforce, farmers and more. Industry trends can spark great progress or create challenging barriers within the field of manufacturing, depending on how they are addressed. One such issue facing the SPA industry is the prevalence of transient workers and their effect on how packaging machinery is made.

Who are Transient Workers?

Transient workers represent a portion of the workforce that transitions quickly to and from roles requiring little technical skill. Considered by many to be underpaid and overworked, transient workers often pick up dangerous or undesirable shifts and jobs, or help to fill needs in the manufacturing industry by performing more basic tasks that require no experience. Similar to temporary workers, who work with temp agencies and are usually contracted to work a project or position with a specific start and end date, transient workers are not eligible for employment benefits and often receive less formal training than full-time employees.

Research shows that 59% of manufacturing employers utilize the transient workforce. The advantages are clear: these workers are particularly attractive to employers seeking short-term or immediate help, or filling in the spot of a full-time employee on leave.

Why are Transient Workers so Prevalent in Manufacturing?

Despite changes in manufacturing work like unions and more strictly enforced labor laws, there remains a general impression that manufacturing jobs are less than desirable as a result of challenging working conditions (longer hours, manual labor, etc.). In addition, younger members of the workforce — millennials and recent college graduates — are not drawn to manufacturing jobs due to the monotony of work and lack of flexibility. Another important fact to note is that the number of temporary jobs available in the U.S. continues to rise.

Due to perceptions of manufacturing work and other challenges, there is an industry-wide shortage of skilled SPA (and CPG) manufacturing workers. Although technological advancements have greatly simplified manufacturing processes by requiring less workers to maintain productivity, companies are choosing to pursue alternative sources of labor—like temporary and transient workers—to meet their quotas. In an age where consumer trends increasingly drive manufacturing results, we’re seeing hiring preferences shift towards transient workers which gives employers more flexibility in their payrolls.

What Does the Prevalence of Transient Workers Mean for the SPA industry?

Industrial packaging machines are complex — their design and functionality often require training and experience in order to operate them safely and efficiently. With the continuing rise of transient workers in the secondary packaging and machinery automation industries, packaging providers are being forced to adapt by building intelligent machines that streamline production processes and can be operated without extensive experience. Companies like INSITE, founded by Douglas Machine Inc, have recognized this need and are responding by using smart, simple concepts to design and build advanced equipment for the secondary packaging industry. While remaining entirely efficient, our case erectors and case sealers are designed safely and simply so they can be operated without extensive experience.

For every manufacturer, safe working conditions (including well-maintained machines) should be of the utmost concern. In addition to building better designed, more efficient secondary packaging machinery, it’s vital to have a thorough, consistent training process in place for every single employee — transient or not. Unfortunately, reality doesn’t always fit the ideal. Temp workers across the country have reported seeing employers skimp on training and quality equipment, which can get dangerous. Ensuring that every employee undergoes the same basic training will go a long way towards establishing consistent processes and procedures that keep all of your workers safe.

Moving Forward with INSITE

As the packaging machinery industry continues to utilize the temporary and transient workforce, now holding a record 2.8 million workers, we must also continue to adapt in order to remain productive and profitable. If you’re examining different ways to innovate your secondary packaging automation process to better accommodate transient workers, contact INSITE today. Having found success by eliminating the complexity commonly found in other packaging equipment, we are eager to partner with you and introduce our streamlined approach to your packaging automation.

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