Occupation summary


This occupation is found in the food and drink manufacturing sector.

Companies are in the main large. They may produce one type of food and drink product or a range of products. Products may include biscuits, cakes, confectionary, fresh fruit, ready-to-eat and ready-to cook food, sandwiches, salads, soft drinks, and wraps.

The broad purpose of the occupation is to support the manufacture of quality food and drink products. They conduct start-up, close-down, changeover, and handovers in the manufacturing process, often using highly automated equipment and technology. They keep the manufacturing process running through operating machinery, front-line fault diagnosis and resolution, asset care, and performing basic maintenance. A key focus for technical operators is food safety, through monitoring Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points and recording the results. As they operate in a regulated environment, they may be involved in conducting internal audits and supporting external audits to demonstrate compliance. Demonstrating compliance will also involve completing and updating documents, risk assessments, and completing traceability records. Food and drink manufacturing is often a team activity. Technical operators may help to develop and support others through training and setting an example. They strive to continuously improve performance and quality (considering safety, quality, driving value). They support the implementation of new products or processes. During incidents, such as fires, accidents or near misses, they implement incident management procedures. Manufacturing process technicians will spend time on the production lines and off-line while working on activities such as projects. They are likely to be required to work shifts, including unsociable hours.

In their daily work, they interact with process operatives, other technical operators and site teams. This may include engineering, maintenance, quality, research and development, and packaging teams. They also interact with auditors, regulators and customers undertaking site visits. They typically report to an operational manager. They work with minimal supervision.

An employee in this occupation is responsible for working as part of a team to manufacture safe and compliant products. They need to meet deadlines, productivity, efficiency, hygiene, and environmental requirements, and ensure the health and safety of self and others.

Apprenticeship Standard
EPA Summary
Level 3 Diploma

Typical job titles include:

  • Advanced operator Manufacturing
  • Technician Process development
  • Technician Process technician Skilled
  • Production operator Technical operator



K1: The food and drink sector. Food industry regulators: British Retail Consortium, Food Standards Agency. Types of organisations: branded and non-branded, high and low care sites. Types of food and drink products. End-to-end supply chain. Customers and consumers. Seasonal impact on product demand. Current food and drink trends.

K2: Food and drink technical operator’s role. Limits of autonomy. Different teams and functions involved in production. Business operation considerations: efficiency, customer satisfaction, competitiveness, minimising risks to production.

K3: Food and drink manufacturing methods and processes. How technology supports production. Characteristics and properties of food and drink products: ambient, frozen, fresh, chilled, confectionery, liquid. Handling requirements. Effects of external influences. Packaging types and functionality.

K4: Standard operating procedures. What they are and why they are important. What they need to cover and why: Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), isolation and lock off, guarding, strip and assembly of equipment, step by step process. Use of visuals and symbols.

K5: Food and drink industry quality management standards for example, British Retail Consortium. What they are and why they are important.

K6: Food and drink tools and equipment: pumps, valves, lines, gauges, temperature controls, mixers, conveyors, depositors, sealers, touch screen technology, human machine interface, Programmable Logical Control (PLC) systems and handheld devices. Operating standards and equipment set points.

K7: Customer specifications: purpose and consequences of non-compliance.

K8: Line performance management. Key Performance Indicators. How line performance impacts profitability of the business.

K9: Role of line trials in new product introduction.

K10: Legislation and standards: Food Safety Act, Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP), Threat Analysis of Critical Control Points (TACCP), Vulnerability Assessment of Critical Control Points (VACCP).

K11: Food safety: microbiology, physical, chemical contamination hazards and control. Food poisoning. Personal hygiene. Design of food premises and equipment. Cleaning and disinfection principles and procedures, cleaning in place (CIP). Pest control. Control measures. Supervisory management.

K12: Food integrity: temperature control, date code responsibilities, foreign object contamination. Documentation records.

K13: Material and ingredient specification requirements: segregation, storage, maintaining product origin, integrity and traceability. Allergen identification and control methods.

K14: Health and Safety at Work Act – responsibilities. Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH). Reporting of Injuries, Diseases, and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR). Risk assessments. Safe systems of work. Manual handling. Types of hazards. Near miss reporting. Due diligence. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Situational awareness. Isolation and emergency stop procedures. Emergency evacuation procedures. Slips, trips and falls. Safety equipment: guards, signage, fire extinguishers.

K15: Environment and sustainability. Environmental Protection Act – responsibilities. Types of pollution and control measures: noise, smells, spills, and waste. Efficient use of resources. Environmental permits. Waste management. Recycling.

K16: Types of incidents – fire, accidents, near-misses. Mitigation methods. Incident management.

K17: Principles of mechanical engineering technologies and safe working practices: lubrication, hydraulics, fluid power, mechanical, bench fitting, pumps and valves, pneumatics, drives, fitting and hand tools, units and measurements, fault-location, stored energy and safe isolation.

K18: Different types of maintenance activities: preventative, reactive. What they are and why they are important.

K19: Food safety engineering: food grade oils, safe use of tools and equipment.

K20: Problem solving techniques: root cause analysis, 6 thinking hats, DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyse, Improve, Control), PDCA (Plan Do Check Act). Fault finding techniques: root cause analysis, 5 Whys, fishbone, half-split.

K21: Continuous improvement techniques: lean, 6-sigma, KAIZEN, 5S (Sort, set, shine, standardise and sustain), SMED (Single-Minute Exchange of Dies).

K22: Audit requirements – internal and external. Five stages of audit. Responsibilities of auditor and auditee.

K23: Information technology: Management Information Systems (MIS), spreadsheets, presentation, word processing, email, virtual communication and learning platforms. General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

K24: Planning, prioritising and time management techniques. Work management systems.

K25: Communication techniques: verbal, non-verbal.

K26: Communication techniques: written. Writing using plain English principles.

K27: Workplace training and buddying techniques.

K28: Team working techniques.


S1: Interpret, follow and implement food and drink production SOPs.

S2: Interpret, follow and implement quality assurance procedures.

S3: Monitor production performance, stock usage and rotation.

S4: Operate or use food and drink production tools and equipment.

S5: Identify hazards (Critical Control Points) and control measures to mitigate risks.

S6: Comply with food safety regulations and procedures.

S7: Comply with health and safety regulations and procedures.

S8: Comply with environment and sustainability regulations and procedures. Segregate, recycle and dispose of waste.

S9: Monitor and inspect production machinery.

S10: Apply basic maintenance practices. For example, check levels, parts wear, pressure, and sensors, and grease and lubricate.

S11: Select and use maintenance hand tools.

S12: Follow food safe engineering standards and practices. For example, use of food safe chemicals, check out and in of components.

S13: Follow site isolation and lock off procedures (lockout, tagout).

S14: Diagnose and resolve issues. Escalate issues.

S15: Apply fault-finding and problem-solving techniques.

S16: Apply continuous improvement techniques. Devise suggestions for improvement.

S17: Collect and interpret information. Use data to apply changes

S18: Record information – paper based or electronic.

S19: Use information technology. Comply with GDPR.

S20: Plan and organise self, others and resources.

S21: Communicate with colleagues and stakeholders visually and verbally.

S22: Communicate in writing.

S23: Identify training needs. Train and buddy team members in the workplace.


B1: Prioritise and promote health and safety, and food safety.

B2: Prioritise and promote the environment and sustainability.

B3: Apply a professional approach.

B4: Take responsibility for work.

B5: Team-focus to meet work goals.

B6: Respond and adapt to work demands.

B7: Committed to Continued Professional Development.

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