Your Factories Don’t Need to Make Sacrifices to Achieve Sustainability

In Fact, it’s a Bigger Sacrifice to Do Nothing!

From Global Trends to Factory Solutions: A Comprehensive Approach to Addressing Wastage, Overfilling, Packaging and Paper-Recording


Climate Change and COP 28

I think most of us had a warm summer this year. In fact, September 2023 has been recorded as the warmest September globally, and it was warmer than the average July from 2001-2010 according to The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

The rise in temperatures has intensified the frequency and severity of wildfires, droughts, floods, storms, and other natural disasters, drawing attention to the urgent issues of climate change and sustainability.

During COP28 in the UAE, the global agenda focused on realigning with a 1.5°C trajectory, aiming to alleviate the suffering of the most impacted populations and ecosystems. Recognising technology and innovation as the cornerstone of these efforts has become integral to our approach.

climate change COP 28 manufacturing

Huge Carbon Emissions from Food and Drink Production

Bringing this problem much closer to the UK, food and drink is the largest manufacturing sector here and is responsible for more than 30% of our greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, as about a third of our expensively produced food is wasted, the destruction of this waste creates a further 8% to 16% of greenhouse gas emissions. Food production and the destruction of food waste therefore cause huge emissions, both in the UK and globally.

To address the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, we need to optimise food and drink production and distribution. Answering the call of COP28, the implementation of technology and innovation in this sector is crucial for improving productivity and fostering sustainability.

So where shall we start?

Wastage is Everywhere

Wastage is a major issue, and it is everywhere, throughout food manufacturing operations, from goods-in to despatch. Some obvious examples include wastage due to overfilling, incorrect labels on packaging, piles of paper recording production data and sub-optimal efficiencies.

Overfilling Always Costs More than You Think

Overfilling presents a critical and common wastage issue.

We once visited a UK mid-sized spirit bottling factory with an annual production of approximately 12 million cases, equivalent to around 108 million litres. In order to comply with Average Quantity Law, they maintained an average ‘safe’ overfill of 3ml per litre, resulting in an annual giveaway of 324,000 litres. With a production cost of £1.53 to produce each litre of spirit, the company incurred an additional cost of £495,720 in their cost of sales, for little more than half a teaspoonful of giveaway per litre.

Overfilling not only causes wastage of raw materials, but also has a significant impact on the cost of sales, ultimately eroding bottom-line profits. This is where Harford comes in to help with overfilling/giveaway. Harford Weight Control (Fill Optimisation) solutions implement machine learning and combine the advantages of Average Quantity Law with Statistical Process Control and Process Capability, ensuring that optimal control can be achieved, with minimal effort – even in processes with high levels of variation.

weight control volumn control fill optimisation manufacturing

Inaccurate Labelling Leads to More Packaging Waste

Packaging waste is another serious waste issue, contributing to environmental pollution and resource depletion. Global plastic waste has more than doubled from 2000 to 2019, reaching 353 million tonnes, with packaging contributing 40%. Over 50% of this waste ends up in landfill (OECD ORG). Challenges such as inaccurate labelling, wrong date codes, and invalid barcodes in production packing contribute to the disposal of packaging items. We need ‘right first time, every time’ to ensure accurate labelling and reduce the amount of wasted packages.

Harford have enormous experience in helping food and drink manufacturers ensure greater accuracy of labelling for control of allergens, date coding, quality and much more – thus giving manufacturers greater confidence in the labelling of their packages and products.

With Harford Autocoding solutions, at the start of and during each production run, the system will ensure in-line barcode scanners are configured to check that the correct packaging materials and labels are used – on each individual product, case or pallet. This process ensures 100% verification of packaging accuracy, to avoid inaccurate label information and consequential batch rejections.

Eliminate Paper Waste and Improve Traceability

Paper, classified as a forest-risk commodity, contributes significantly to waste in factories. Many factories often accumulate piles of pre-printed paper, documenting line performance data, weight check sheets, quality documents, downtime logs, and changeover logs, leading to the risk of deforestation. In the face of increasing wildfires globally, it’s crucial to reconsider our paper consumption. Eliminating paper in factories not only enhances sustainability but, with the right system, can also improve traceability and productivity.

Harford Paperless Quality solutions help factories remove paper, providing instant visibility of actionable information. Managers and operators are firmly in control of the production processes. With Harford’s Traffic Lights, operators are able to determine the root cause of downtime using our 5 Whys and Fish Bone diagrams (Ishikawa) analysis, in real time. Our in-depth granular ‘drill down’ tools provide the help required to find and fix most root cause problems.

manufacturing execution system software mes

Unlock the Potential of Sustainable Practices

Sustainability doesn’t mean your factory has to sacrifice resources to achieve your objectives. On the contrary, it will help your factory increase productivity, ensure compliance, and reduce transformation costs through our comprehensive MIS/MES system.

We have enormous experience in these matters, gained over the past 55 years of continuous trading, which we are more than willing to share with any companies open to discussion. Don’t wait until it’s too late; we can all do our bit to reduce global warming, whilst doing our utmost to help ourselves.

To know more, call our team on 01225 764461 or contact us here.


Share your thoughts to Info@harfordcontrol.com or give us a call on +44 (0) 1225 764461