Efficiency & Maintenance in Food Manufacturing
So you’re concerned about efficiency and maintenance as a food manufacturer…
Good news! You’re not alone. According to the 2019 Food Engineering State of Food Manufacturing survey, 37% of its food and beverage manufacturing respondents stated that efficiency/maintenance/new equipment is their number one concern – overtaking automation from previous years. Better news! We’ve rounded up some of the best tips for tackling this concern with ease. See them below.
Here are 3 tips for tackling the food manufacturing efficiency and maintenance challenges…
- Conserve: Conserving energy, water, and time translates into boosting efficiency (and your profits, if it’s done right).
- Conserve energy: Incorporate natural light into your facility to reduce the number of light fixtures you need and for the light fixtures you do need, use long-lasting LED bulbs that use less power and last longer (like, years longer) than fluorescent or incandescent bulbs. You can also make your refrigeration units more efficient by moving any heat-generating equipment away from the refrigerators so they don’t have to work harder to refrigerate and, speaking of lightbulbs, you should use LEDs in your refrigerators too because they’re not as sensitive to cold temps as fluorescent lights and incandescent lights generate heat, which is the opposite of what we’re going for in a refrigerator.
- Conserve water: Reevaluate the cleaning practices at your facility because sanitation uses a lot of water and you can consider investing in reuse systems and flow restrictors to reduce the amount of water used for cleaning.
- To conserve time: Fixing errors takes time and so does making decisions, so by reducing errors and having accurate data to make decisions can save you time, therefore improving your efficiency. To reduce errors and maintain accurate, real-time data, use food ERP software that provides useful automations and integrations that allow you to eliminate a lot of manual data entry, which poses a huge potential for error. Additionally, with food ERP software like NorthScope, it will help you manage production levels accurately and efficiently as a system that optimizes inventory tracking, giving you “real-time transparency into shortages, sales trends, and more, allowing you to make informed decisions regarding production to ensure resources are being” efficiently used. And, as you manage your inventory of food items, you run the risk of spoilage, so the “successful monitoring and management of inventory will cut waste and improve efficiency.”
- Prevent: Recalls and equipment breakdowns can cost a lot of money and a lot of time that would better be used elsewhere. Prevent these inefficiencies by regularly maintaining your quality control and your equipment.
- Maintain quality control: A well-maintained quality control process can help prevent recalls and help manage recalls quickly when they do happen. By preventing recalls you can avoid the unnecessary time and hassle a recall brings and spend that time and energy on proactive measures instead of reactive ones. To prevent recalls, you need a system that can track production lots and quality test results so that you only release product that adheres to industry and company standards. If a recall does happen, this system’s same qualities will help you track down the recalled product quickly and cost-effectively.
- Maintain your equipment: To best maintain your equipment and keep it up and running, you can embrace a combination of predictive and preventative maintenance programs. Predictive maintenance can save you time and money with technology that can tell you when your equipment is about to break down, allowing you to plan repairs and upkeep more efficiently and reduce downtime. Similarly, preventative maintenance is important for operational efficiency, functional performance, food safety, documentation and traceability, and repair costs and it follows a scheduled maintenance plan, mandating “inspection, diagnostics, service, and parts replacement according to well-planned and timely schedules.” Moreover, these “proactive equipment maintenance programs have been shown to result in significant cost reductions, with some manufacturers tracking savings as high as 80%.”
- Plan: As much as you may invest in preventing time and money wasting events, sometimes they’re inevitable. So, in order for these events to have as little impact as possible on your efficiency, you need to plan for them so you’re prepared if they happen and you can plan with maintenance documentation and keeping the necessary resources on hand to respond.
- Document your maintenance: By keeping detailed maintenance records you’ll be better equipped to determine what went wrong and when if a piece of equipment breaks down. Just like with your food products, traceability should be a top priority when conducting equipment maintenance.
- Keep resources on hand: If you prepare for the potential of a piece of equipment to go out, you’ll have a backup plan in place that can reduce the effects of the event and get you back to normal operating procedures as soon as possible. But, in order for that plan to work, you need to have the resources on hand, and continually maintained. For instance, if a refrigerator goes out, you should always have backup generators ready, meaning on hand and maintained regularly, so they can keep your cold storage running and prevent any inventory loss while the refrigerator is being fixed. Additionally, you can prepare for temporary fixes by having the equipment and personnel on staff to handle the fix smoothly.