We love to see young people getting to grips with new technology and learning about how it makes packing our eggs so much easier. Last week a group of A Level students from Keswick School visited the Lakes Free Range Egg Company (The Lakes). These lucky students from Keswick School had a very real lesson in technology at work. It’s the fourth time the school has visited with A Level students studying Systems and Controls but this year, they extended the opportunity to those studying Product Design too.
The Lakes Free Range Egg Company has always encouraged young people to look at agriculture and food production as a future career, so this visit also represented an opportunity to demonstrate that the food industry has a breadth of careers to explore.
Managing Director Mark Gaskin introduced the company and gave an overview of the volumes of egg collected and despatched across the country each day. Mark also explained how the short lead times mean the factory is operational six days a week and discussed the operational challenges of meeting seasonal demand from hens that lay a consistent number of eggs.
Egg consumption has increased, with the UK population consuming over 16 billion eggs in 2015.* Explaining the growth in sales to the students, Mark said “year on year egg sales continue to rise which is good news for the industry. Eggs now feature strongly at breakfast time and people recognise their value as a premium protein food. Our job is to predict far enough ahead to have enough hens laying eggs at the right time. Eggs are popular all year round, but the spike in logistics comes in December – that’s when planning, systems and logistics really make a difference.”
Keen to see the factory in operation, the students and teachers donned their protective clothing and were taken for a tour by Mark and Factory Manager Maria Harris. Students learned that each pallet delivered in from farms contains 8,640 eggs – and they only take only 5 minutes to grade by machine.
Spending time with students with a technical understanding was a treat for factory Engineer Anton Parks who ran through the mechanical processes, lifting the lid on how the systems and controls worked.
Student Ellie Parkinson said “what impressed me most was the technology that detected a crack in an egg and monitored it the whole way through the process.” All the students agreed the scale of the operation was far greater than they expected.
Physics and Design Technology teacher Ms Orla O’Donnell said “an egg has the smartest packaging of all; it’s sterile, breathable, strong, protective and doesn’t need washing. The technology used at the Lakes Free Range Egg Company is also very leading edge and innovative. It’s not just the technology and robots in the factory; it goes through their whole process, from recycling rainwater to creating their own energy and becoming the first egg packing factory in the UK to become carbon neutral.
I’ve been visiting for four years and every time there’s a new initiative or innovation. Our students found it very enlightening and who knows, we may find one of them working in the food industry in the future.”
Anyone interested in finding out more about the innovative technologies used at the Lakes Free Range Egg Company can find out more by visiting their website www.lakesfreerange.co.uk