Pet food production tech creates need for skilled labor

Technology used in pet food production, such as robotics and computers, create a need for skilled workers at dog, cat and other pet food facilities.

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(Masarik | BigStock.com)
(Masarik | BigStock.com)

Technology used in pet food production, such as robotics and computers, creates a need for skilled workers at dog, cat and other pet food facilities. Finding those workers and drawing that labor into a community depends on various factors, which Jason Godsey, executive vice president of Simmons Pet Food discussed during the Kansas Department of Agriculture’s Ag Summit 2020.

Simmons pet food facility in Emporia, Kansas

In June 2019, Simmons opened a US$62 million Flexible Packaging Facility in Emporia, Kansas, USA. The plant produces pet foods in cup, tub and pouch packaging formats. The new facility added 200,000 square feet to Simmons’ custom and private label pet food operations in Emporia. Simmons employs 1,200 people in the city and is hiring for 100 more, Godsey said. The company also runs dry pet food and treat production plants in Decatur and Solomon Springs, Arkansas, USA.

“In the Emporia facility, we continue to put in new processes, and so as we continue to sell and grow those out, we'll continue to see that workforce grow in Emporia.”

Simmons employs among the highest numbers of people in the area, he said. The company draws from the local community, while continually needing to attract more. Those workers need houses, so Simmons partnered with the city of Emporia to identify housing requirements to meet their employment needs.

Even as they continue hiring more humans, automation expanded at Simmons’ pet food production plants.

“It's highly automated and most equipment takes a skill level to be able to operate,” he said. “In many cases we're running lines that have 1,200 to 1,500 cans a minute moving down the line.”

Local schools, like Flint Hills Technical College, help fill those jobs with technicians and others.

Petfood Industry Career Center

The Petfood Industry Career Center is available to help connect employers to job seekers. 

Features of the Career Center include:

  • Find jobs specific to the pet food industry, many are not found on general job listing sites
  • Perform custom searches by job key word, title or location
  • Utilize resume review services and other career resources to build applications
  • View key industry information and events
  • Sign up for email notifications sent twice monthly with available openings
  • Free, easy registration for all Career Center services

 

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