handling food, food waste
© Alexey Emelyanov Eanstudio |

With up 90% of food wasted and lost before the product even reaches supermarket shelves Robin Travis, Managing Director at Renby Ltd explores how to improve the efficiency of handling food and erasing double handling

From manufacturing to the supermarket, food waste is valued at a whopping £2.2 billion, contributing to millions of tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions. When you couple this with the fact that an ecover survey found more than a third of Brits would back businesses facing fines for not recycling, it’s fair to say that the spotlight on waste management is not going away any time soon.

Companies which bulk handle foods are placed into the spotlight the most often – a staggering 90% of wasted food is lost before the product even reaches supermarket shelves. Some stores do have farm programmes to donate wasted food to, along with giving to the homeless and the recent ‘wonky’ vegetable and fruit boxes, but efficiency can still be improved upon to reduce waste.

Spotlight on supply chain

Often, the amounts of waste produced is heavily influenced by the supply chain. One of the main culprits can come from performance problems with machinery in the manufacturing process. Product blockages, belt damage and mechanical mishandling account for up to three-quarters of the total food wasted by ready meals and chilled product manufacturers.

Businesses are also sending materials from one facility to another as well as double handling which decreases the product flow and can waste precious time.

What is double handling?

Double handling is when a worker transfers a material to the wrong place and it needs to be moved, or intentionally moves it into an intermediate store area and then needs to be transferred to another location. This not only increases the chances of waste and product damage, but also the potential for physical damage and degradation of said material.

Storage is one of the biggest contributors of double handling, as a lot of supermarket areas do not have sufficient space to accommodate all of their stock. Hence, it needs to be stored due to the need for regular replenishment.  Unloading and reloading of intermediate containers can increase the opportunity for manual handling injuries to staff.

Double handling is not just done by humans, but also machinery, which can be temperamental as mentioned above. Yet this can become dangerous when multiple vehicles become involved to handle and transport the stock, resulting in further product damages. And when people have to move heavy boxes to storage, and then to the supermarket floor, it increases the risk of a domino effect – more risk of damage, which increases the chances of waste, both in terms of product and of time.

So what’s the answer to solving the double handling waste problem? Moving floor bunkers.

Moving floor bunkers

Moving floor bunkers and bag openers receive and convey incoming bulk waste materials and heavy solids. They automate and facilitate the loading and unloading of all bulk solid goods, eliminating the need for a forklift, front loader or heavy lifting.  Designed for the waste industry, they are often used in warehouses, loading docks or semi-trailers.

They essentially reduce the need for double handling by allowing the vehicle to deliver material directly to the conveying floor and feed bulk materials to subsequent stages of the process.  This eliminates the need for any intervention with the material as it moves through the process.

Moving floor systems are not only tough enough for virtually any loaded waste vehicle to drive over, but they can also handle highly bulky, heavy and aggressive waste to eliminate the human error risk of product and physical harm.

Other benefits of a walking-style moving floor include the fact that the endless movement cycle means optimum material flow is achieved – saving that crucial time. Loads can be discharged at a variable measured rate, and the simple design of them reduces maintenance to a minimum.  Incoming lorries can be discharged in minutes and leave the material to feed into the process at the required rate.

Technologically advanced systems like moving floors are customisable for a wide variety of applications. The planks move in sequence and the load travels smoothly without damaging the surface. It’s even tough enough for heavy vehicles to drive on.

Overall, moving floors can substantially increase the efficiency of your waste processes. In an era where so many people are shining a spotlight on waste where food producers and supermarkets are held responsible, they need to address the ways in which they can reduce said impact.  Moving floors can help create an efficient, automated and safe waste management system.

Other top tips for reducing waste in the warehouse

–       Measure your Waste

–       Set targets and KPI’s

–       Take action on highest waste areas

–       Set deadlines

–       Improve your culture of waste prevention at work


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