Food manufacturers are faced with strict regulations to meet food quality and safety standards. The Food Safety Modernization Act requires food processors to use equipment that meets rigorous design standards, such as 3-A Sanitary Standards, NSF standards for food equipment, and others. As such, food equipment manufacturers face costly design and certification processes, and as a result, food manufacturing equipment is costly. In fact, equipment investments – including original equipment purchases and repairs and maintenance – are one of the biggest overhead costs for food manufacturers. An effective maintenance management program helps food manufacturers reduce equipment manufacturing overhead costs in several ways.
Maintenance management helps food manufacturers remain compliant with stringent industry regulations. The USDA and FDA may carry out routine inspections or inspections to follow up on complaints received without prior announcement, meaning food manufacturers must ensure continuous, 24/7 compliance. Equipment that’s not in good working order may allow contaminants to enter food, resulting in a public health risk and potential penalties for non-compliance. If contamination isn’t discovered before food reaches the grocery store shelves, manufacturers are on the hook for damages if consumers suffer health complications.
With maintenance management, food manufacturers can evaluate operational performance and safety for all manufacturing equipment, taking immediate action if potential safety hazards or other compliance issues are found.
Tracking equipment with durable barcode labels and a CMMS solution enables food manufacturers to maintain a complete record of an asset’s history, including all maintenance activities. During inspections, operators can easily produce detailed documentation and complete audit logs to prove that all appropriate actions were taken to comply with regulations.
An audit trail can also help food manufacturers identify the root cause of an issue if contamination or other safety risks are identified. And, thanks to equipment tracking, it’s easy for manufacturers to identify the equipment assets involved in production of a contaminated batch. Operators can then shut down that particular production line to inspect and repair equipment without the need to bring the entire operation to a halt.
Poorly functioning equipment can also lead to inaccurate temperature readings and other factors that can compromise quality. Well-functioning equipment, on the other hand, helps food manufacturers maintain consistency in temperatures, cooking times, and other factors for consistent quality.
Manufacturers that use conditions-based monitoring can leverage a CMMS solution or work order management solution to trigger work orders automatically based on an equipment asset’s condition or usage. For instance, a CMMS may be configured to trigger a work order for a belt replacement after every 10,000 hours of usage, reducing the risk of unexpected breakdowns. With these maintenance management systems in place, manufacturers can ensure proper equipment performance and consistent results.
Whether you use automatic or manual work order triggers, maintenance management makes it easy to keep up with regular maintenance activities that keep your equipment in good working order. When parts and components aren’t inspected or tuned up regularly, it can place added stress on other components or on the equipment asset overall. Operating in these less-than-ideal conditions for an extended time can reduce the overall lifespan of expensive food manufacturing equipment, making it necessary to replace equipment more frequently.
On the other hand, when you leverage maintenance management to carry out preventive maintenance activities and keep your equipment functioning optimally, production is maximized, which boost the bottom line. And, by treating equipment well through regular maintenance and tune-ups, food manufacturers can get more usable life out of their expensive equipment investments – sometimes extending the lifespan of an asset by several years.
In order to keep pace with the competition, food manufacturers operate 24/7. Equipment breakdowns can compromise food integrity, making it necessary to discard an entire batch from the production line. Breakdowns also halt entire production lines in their tracks, bringing production to a standstill while equipment is repaired. If a manufacturer doesn’t have a necessary replacement part on-hand, repairs take longer, and production can’t resume until repairs are complete.
The consequences of unexpected breakdowns are multi-fold. When their favorite brand is out of stock, consumers typically turn to competitors’ brands. When those favorite brands are on backorder for weeks or months thanks to a major manufacturing delay, manufacturers leave the door open for consumers to shift loyalty. In other words, breakdowns are costly to the company’s bottom line, both in the short-term and the long-term.
While food manufacturers can’t prevent every instance, maintenance management significantly reduces the likelihood of unexpected breakdowns. Not only does regular maintenance keep equipment in good working order (and less likely to break down), but it also enables manufacturers to keep adequate inventory of commonly used replacement parts to avoid those potentially devastating long-term delays.
Equipment manufacturing overhead costs are one of the biggest overhead costs for food manufacturers. Instead of allowing wasteful overhead spending to eat into your bottom line, implement an effective maintenance management program to control and reduce equipment manufacturing overhead costs while improving regulatory compliance, food quality, and consistency at the same time.
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