Packer Job Description - Skills, Duties, Requirements and Career
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What Does a Packer Do?
A packer is responsible for preparing and packing products for storage, transport and sale.
The specific tasks of a packer vary according to the sector (e.g. food and beverage, pharma, industrial, clothing, warehouse etc.), as different products (e.g. food, medicines, consumer goods, industrial goods) all have their own different packing methods and materials. Common packing operations include boxing, canning, wrapping, bagging, bottling and labelling.
In performing their tasks, packers use automatic packing machines of various types and levels of complexity (including filling, sealing, wrapping, labelling and strapping machines), each performing a specific packing operation. The packer monitors packing machine operations, ensuring that the machine is always loaded with the materials required, e.g. boxes, wrappings, lids, labels etc., and is also responsible for verifying the integrity and quality of the final product.
A packer’s duties include performing sample quality control checks on packed products and recording data in quality reports, which help to ensure production efficiency and quality targets are being met. In some packing facilities, packers are also required to pick products from the warehouse. Where this is the case, the worker is classed as a picker/packer (or picking/packing operator).
Packers may be employed directly or through a temporary work agency. They report to a shift manager and carry out their work in accordance with internal procedures and the applicable safety regulations. Packing work may be full-time, part-time or casual/seasonal. Casual or seasonal work is particularly common in the food and beverage sector, where seasonality may impact heavily on production. Working hours are usually organized in shifts (including night shifts) based on production line requirements.
Packer Duties and Responsibilities
The main responsibilities of a packer include:
- Performing packing operations in accordance with time, quality and quantity targets
- Loading packing machines with packing materials (e.g. cans, boxes, bags, containers, wrapping etc)
- Supervising the packing process and monitoring individual machines
- Controlling the quality of packaged items
- Performing adjustments on machines where necessary
- Ensuring the correct operation of machines
- Reporting any maintenance or repair requirements on assigned machines
How to Become a Packer: Requirements and Training
There are no specific entry requirements to become a packer, but it is advisable for candidates to at least have obtained a general school leaving certificate or technical qualifications at an equivalent level. Often, due to production requirements, packers acquire the skills and knowledge required to carry out the work through on-the-job training, which may take the form of a period of mentoring or shadowing by a more experienced worker.
Because packers work with highly-automated machinery (e.g. filling, bagging and labelling machines), it is essential for them to have some technical knowledge of such machinery works and of their operational sequences, as well as a familiarity with the types of packing materials used (e.g. printed or plain polypropylene film, paper, glass, aluminium etc).
Job advertisements for food packers may require candidates to hold specific food storage and food hygiene certificates.
Skills and Qualifications
The main skills required by a packer are a knowledge of how packing machines work and the ability to operate them. Also useful is the ability to carry out minor maintenance tasks. Packers need to have good manual skills and attention to detail. Team-work capabilities are also essential, as the job entails coordinating with the other workers involved in the production process.
Packer Career Path
The career path for a packer may involve progression to the position of supervisor or packing manager, with responsibility for managing and supervising the whole production line. The skills acquired in this role may then lead to a move to another related sector, such as production, logistics or quality control.
Alternatively, packers specializing in the maintenance of packing machines may find employment opportunities as a maintenance mechanic, maintenance manager or automated machinery operator.
Top Reasons to Work as a Packer
Packers are needed in a wide range of manufacturing sectors, including food and beverage, pharmaceutical, industrial, leather goods and clothing, where they are instrumental in ensuring that goods can be kept in storage without deterioration or spoilage. A good packer will be able to use their skills and knowledge to suggest changes that will increase packing line productivity without adversely impacting on quality.
Since packers work in coordination with the production, warehousing, logistics and quality control departments to ensure that goods are processed correctly, in accordance with the set procedures and time targets, a job as a packer represents an excellent opportunity for anybody looking to start a career in production or supply chain management.