Jimmy Cregan

In the fmcg world, there are a vast number of components that must be right in order to sell your product. One of those is actually having product to sell in the first place. Here’s where the phrase ‘don’t put all your eggs in one basket’ comes into play. Silly eggs. Stupid basket. In the beginnings of business, you’ll find yourself spending an incredible amount of time nailing three things. They are your branding, packaging and ingredients. Once you’ve got this vital combo together, you’ll have finally made a product that will make it to the shelf, fingers crossed! You’ll hopefully then continue to make products and things get better. However, things can suddenly turn slightly pear-shaped.

What happens when the machine that fills your product decides to not do its thing any more? Or if the machine has a queue of businesses all wanting in on the action? Well, it’s a tough one that we’ve just encountered.

Our machine is so specialist, I’d just like to outline in the plainest English what it does. Our cartons arrive as a giant reel of paper that gets attached to the machine. It then grabs this paper and cleans it, big style. It’ll then bend and glue the paper into a sausage shape, which then gets filled with product that has been mixed in a nice shiny tank. The cartons are then crimped and moulded into shape. Moving on, they are sent along what looks like a Scalextric track where they have the cap added, then on to the boxing area where cartons are popped in boxes, placed on a pallet, wrapped and whisked off to a nearby fridge by forklift. It’s not like getting a Pyrex jug and pouring the contents into a carton and popping the top on while wearing a hairnet.

There are only two machines in the country that fill into cartons like ours, and one is ‘out of order’ until further notice. This means the queue for the remaining one is rather large! So, what do we do? When there are no contingencies, the first thing you have to do is understand when your next production date is and clearly communicate with everyone, from your suppliers to your customers. We have also been researching what it would be like going into a can, so there’s another avenue, too. These things happen in business, but you need to be prepared for them, if you can. If your hands are tied, do whatever it takes to get to the front of that queue!