Labour market information Explore careers by essential skills

Essential skills profile

This profile contains a list of example tasks that illustrate how each of the 9 essential skills is generally performed by most workers in this occupation. The levels of complexity estimated for each task are ranked between 1 (basic) and 5 (advanced).

You can use this profile to:
Find a job
Write your resume and prepare for job interviews
Plan your career
Determine which career may best suit you based on your skill set
Manage your workforce
Write job postings, assess employee performance and develop training

Find out more about this occupation

For more information on this occupation, look at the related job profile. It provides information on prevailing wages, job prospects and other skill requirements.

Look up job profile

Process Control and Machine Operators, Food and Beverage Processing (9461)

Process control and machine operators in this unit group operate multi-function process control machinery or single-function machines to process and package food and beverage products. They are employed in fruit and vegetable processing plants, dairies, flour mills, bakeries, sugar refineries, meat plants, breweries and other food and beverage processing establishments.

Reading Help - Reading
  • May read notes outlining the types and quantities of products to be processed. (1)
  • May read company rules and regulations. (2)
  • May read memos from the office regarding production schedules. (2)
  • May read changes in brewing procedures. (2)
  • May read food handling manuals to stay current on sanitation and hygiene. (3)
  • May read machine manuals to learn how to care for and repair the processing machines. (3)
  • May read Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) to locate information about the handling and cleanup of spills. (3)
Document use Help - Document use
  • Read safety signs and symbols posted throughout the plant. (1)
  • Read product codes for ingredients and packaging materials. (1)
  • Obtain information from pictures and icons on the computer screen. (1)
  • Read pressure and temperature gauges on tanks. (1)
  • Read lists of ingredients and recipe formula printouts indicating the amount of ingredients required for batches of different sizes. (2)
  • Read graphs to determine if the air level in cans is within an acceptable range. (2)
  • Read computer charts which show which products are running from which tank and at what temperature. (2)
  • Read a schematic diagram of the production process on the computer screen, with a flashing light indicating the part of the process presently in progress. (2)
  • Complete Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) labels when pouring cleaning chemicals from one container to another. (2)
  • Complete production record forms by entering codes for weight and taste. (2)
  • Fill in order forms to obtain ingredients from suppliers. (2)
  • Complete work schedules. (2)
  • Read assembly drawings of machines to understand cleaning and maintenance functions. (3)
  • Record information in tables listing all ingredients used and their weights. (3)
  • Complete bar graphs to show the efficiency of current hourly production when compared to a standard hourly rate set by the company. (3)
Writing Help - Writing
  • Write reminder notes and "to do" lists for the incoming shift. (1)
  • Write memos to the maintenance department to request repairs. (1)
  • Write notations in a report book, for example, to indicate vibrations in equipment or high temperatures which have triggered alarms. (1)
  • Write cleaning log reports to record specific tasks and times, such as "grain bin hosed out - 11:00 a.m.". (1)
  • Write up procedures to keep track of steps in an operation. (2)
  • Write recipe sheets when changes are being made to ingredients or quantities. (2)
  • Write reports to supervisors to provide information on production problems and the sequence of events that led up to them. (2)
Numeracy Help - Numeracy Measurement and Calculation Math
  • Measure quantities of liquid and dry ingredients for recipes or batches. (1)
  • May measure the thickness of products, for example, a pizza pop. (1)
  • Weigh products to determine packaging requirements. (1)
  • May calculate the volume of syrup, sugar or water from levels shown on a tank. (2)
Data Analysis Math
  • May read lab test results to determine if a product falls within specifications for that product, for instance 30% butterfat content. (1)
  • May calculate the average usage of ingredients such as salt, sugar and dough over various time periods to verify if the machines are performing consistently. (2)
Numerical Estimation
  • May estimate the distance of hoses from pumping mechanisms when connecting hoses to different pumps. (1)
  • May estimate how many empty bottles will be required to empty the dispensing machine. (2)
  • May estimate how much bottle-filling is required for an eight-hour shift based on a number of variables, such as whether the machines are running well, how many mixes can be completed per hour and how many staff will be available for the whole shift. (3)
Oral communication Help - Oral communication
  • May interact with suppliers to discuss orders or to resolve supply difficulties. (1)
  • Exchange information with co-workers about processes and production levels. (2)
  • Communicate with supervisors to clarify instructions or report equipment problems. (2)
  • May interact with the quality control manager to discuss possible improvements to processes. (2)
  • May discuss equipment failures with engineers, millwrights or mechanics. (2)
Thinking Help - Thinking Problem Solving
  • May find the bread crust is wrinkled. They may change the thickness on a rolling machine or reset the pressure on the machine moulds. (1)
  • May find that grain "hangs up" and does not enter the slide to the brewing vats. They place vibrating equipment to open the slides and free the grain. (1)
  • May find that there is an incorrect percentage of butterfat in a dairy product, placing it in violation of government regulations on fat content. They may resolve the problem by making another batch of the product and then mixing the two to get the correct level. (2)
  • May deal with equipment malfunctions or machine failures. They attempt the repairs themselves, but in some cases have to call maintenance personnel for assistance. They may have to create their own solutions with scrap parts if a supplier cannot supply the needed part immediately. (3)
  • May experience a complete computer shutdown, which makes the screens go blank and which automatically halts the process. They call maintenance immediately, performing some steps manually in the interim, if possible. (3)
Decision Making
  • May decide whether to pull dented cans off the line. (1)
  • May decide whether to reject a whole batch of a product when a foreign object is found in one small portion of a mix. (2)
  • May decide when to shut down a machine which is performing poorly, taking into account the consequences on production. (2)
  • May decide when to change flavours in a production run. (2)
  • May decide how to modify a product to make it more appealing to customers' tastes. They make this decision based on past experience with other products and based on consulting sources such as recipe books and magazines. If the modification is not a good one, the result will be lost money for the company. (3)
Critical Thinking

Critical Thinking information was not collected for this profile.

Job Task Planning and Organizing

Own Job Planning and Organizing

Process control and machine operators in food and beverage processing receive instructions from their supervisors on a daily basis. The tasks are repetitive, with some interruptions caused by machine breakdowns or supply shortages. Since processing is a step-by-step procedure, tasks are performed in the same order every day. (2)

Planning and Organizing for Others

Since processing is generally part of a streamlined, assembly-line operation, process control and machine operators co-ordinate their work activities with workers who are part of the same production team. They organize their tasks with strict time lines in mind to respect the schedules of packaging and shipping personnel. (2)

Significant Use of Memory
  • Remember the steps of processes in sequence.
  • Remember production targets for a variety of products or batches.
  • Remember which tanks are running which product and which tanks are being cleaned.
  • Remember settings and adjustments to gauges and machinery.
Finding Information
  • May refer to ingredient lists to identify ingredients which might be harmful to people with food allergies. (1)
  • May get information on syrup mixes from a computer database. (1)
  • May consult a recipe book for a recipe which has not been used recently. (1)
  • May contact product testers at a supplier's laboratory to discuss problems encountered when using a product. (2)
  • May read articles in culinary magazines to find specific information to improve the recipes they are presently using. (2)
Digital technology Help - Digital technology
  • Use other computer applications. For example, they may use computer-controlled machinery programmed to check which tanks contain which products and to control time, temperatures and tank cleaning schedules. (1)
Additional information Help - Additional information Other Essential Skills:

Working with Others

Process control and machine operators in food and beverage processing generally work independently. While they may work in their own separate production or control rooms, they are in close proximity to bottling or packaging lines.

They may work with a partner to place raw material into machines. When they are part of an assembly line process, they work as members of a production team.

Continuous Learning

Process control and machine operators in food and beverage processing learn on the job, supplemented by training courses in first aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). They may receive instruction from manufacturers on the features of new process machinery.

They may attend problem solving or communication courses offered by the company. They may supplement product knowledge by attending trade shows.

Date modified: