Food maintenance is a term for the maintenance and reliability practices performed by food and beverage manufacturers on their machines and other assets.
For food health and safety, regulatory compliance is paramount, ensuring you have a traceable process for protecting the integrity of consumer-based products. Adhering to stringent regulations is the best way to keep your business running.
For that purpose, factory supervisors will need to plan around their asset lifespans, moderate production to an optimal pace, shorten food processing downtime, and factor potential failures into their budget.
Five Reasons Maintenance is Important in the Food and Beverage Industry
1. Supports Food Safety
During maintenance, the factory floor and equipment surfaces are sanitized to avoid food contamination and safety hazards. Foodborne outbreaks should not be taken lightly: The spread of pathogens can compromise food supplies, forcing you to dispose of ingredients before any products make it out of the facility. Food maintenance personnel may monitor data like air quality and temperature to protect food safety.
2. Creates a Paper Trail
Food distributors have to follow strict guidelines set forth by the FDA, OSHA, and EPA, which govern the use of additives, labeling of contents, and sustainable farming methods. They also need to document maintenance activities, such as studying the root cause and reporting what tools were used to prepare for an upcoming inspection.
3. Elevates Machine Performance
A maintenance schedule lets you monitor the condition of equipment involved in food preparation. Continuous upkeep of processors, grinders, or cutters will sidestep any interruptions in the production line. A properly cleaned and calibrated system will boost productivity once worn parts are swapped out.
4. Gets Rid of Food Waste
Many factories churn out tons of food on a daily basis, so it’s no surprise that waste accumulates in the supply chain. When these products are exposed to unsafe conditions for too long, they will end up spoiling, leading to a huge loss in profits. Therefore, it’s important to reduce food waste by storing perishables in refrigerated environments or shelving cooked items in heated rooms.
5. Catalog the MRO Inventory
Instituting a maintenance strategy allows you to track the MRO inventory, ranging from service and repair tools to spare parts that belong to high-priority assets. Ideally, you want to occupy the middle ground where assets are repaired in a timely manner without overstocking items in the warehouse. For MRO management, you can add a purchase request to the work order to avoid a rush delivery.
What are the Best Practices for Food Maintenance?
Aside from the ever-changing standards, there are many challenges to handling consumable goods, making a robust food maintenance program invaluable.
- Wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Factories must undergo frequent cleaning to remove loose debris and harmful chemicals, thus you should install equipment that can withstand wet conditions and exposure to high pressure or temperature. Hence, it’s crucial that your R&D team wear PPE when entering the laboratory.
- Train Your Team. Because food manufacturing poses a lot of obstacles, it justifies having a strong foundation for enforcing reliability in every building. An example would be providing your engineers with specialized training so they can navigate hardwired, complex machinery. Try to implement a continuous process–that way, you won’t lose sight of what controls the production line.
- Standardize Employee Hygiene. For ensuring food safety, it’s vital that you implement standards for employees hygiene. This includes washing their hands before touching any food materials, along with removing grease from surfaces to clear out a workstation. Per the best practices, have them answer health questionnaires upon arrival to contain the spread of disease. Coverings for hair and shoes are strongly recommended when operating on food processors.
- Be Mindful of Food & Beverage Contamination. Only apply food-grade materials to running equipment because that keeps products away from contaminants.
- Invest in Predictive Maintenance through Condition Monitoring. Monitoring the condition of your assets is essential for predicting failures. Predictive maintenance is the practice of gathering asset data through condition monitoring with tools like vibration sensors, and then developing a maintenance schedule optimized for the specific asset. This maximizes equipment uptime and reduces costly planned and maintenance-related downtime.
Benefits of Leveraging a CMMS for Food Maintenance
A computerized maintenance management system, or CMMS, can be effective for designing your own preventive maintenance (PM) program if you need to summarize reports or make user manuals accessible to the team. To achieve this, you must invest in cutting-edge technology that detects the risk of breakdowns and dispatches technicians to quickly correct the problem.
1. Regulatory Compliance
To pass facility inspections, you can build a collection of maintenance dates, broken down into daily or monthly intervals. A CMMS makes it easy to document your records electronically, with features for scanning internal parts, taking timestamped photos, and assigning tasks to your technicians. It also saves your actions in an audit trail available for review if something does go wrong.
2. Equipment Maintenance
A CMMS allows you to get the full scope of your inventory, covering items such as cutters, mixers, storage silos, HVAC units, and just about anything in the facility. You can assess the risk of each system by setting them to different priorities depending on how they are managed. Leading CMMS software like eMaint will also give you the ability to perform condition monitoring with vibration sensors and use the data to evolve your program into condition-based maintenance.
3. Avoid Costly Shutdowns
A CMMS helps you recognize and plan for failure modes, by ordering only the necessary tools to get through the day. The cost of materials and amount of space is already accounted for whenever you purchase MROs to fix broken machines. If PM doesn’t pan out, it will suggest temporary fixes to alleviate the damages.
4. Multi-Site Controls
The automated dashboard responds to your data input by generating work orders. It’s even designed to update your historical records and manuals from connected mobile devices. Some advanced CMMS will display analytical KPIs and notify you of serious issues. You can count on seeing AR/VR to imitate a production scenario in the future.
In the end, create a post-maintenance checklist to summarize what instructions were followed, which items were serviced, and what visual aids were used to conduct the evaluation. By switching to a CMMS, you can improve the efficiency of your food safety program. This translates to better taste and consistency for packaged foods which the customer will appreciate.