Sanitation is critical in food manufacturing – between bacteria, allergies, and the risks of cross-contamination, keeping your equipment as clean as possible is critical for the success of your business. But sanitation also takes up a large portion of time that could be spent manufacturing goods. For manufacturers, the balance between churning out more products and keeping equipment clean is a balancing act between safety and efficiency.
A forward-thinking manufacturer has to account for two types of downtime in their activities: planned and unplanned. Food hygiene falls under the first category – a necessary period of time in which manufacturing operations halt so that food safety standards can be met on the consumer end. From a lean manufacturing perspective, the time spent on this process should be reduced as greatly as possible while adhering to federal guidelines.
Automation should be designed around equipment that is fast and easy to clean, so that more time can be spent on producing goods and less time on upkeep. Below, we examine three key aspects all automation should adhere by when considering the purchase of new equipment.
Assembly and Disassembly
Hygiene is a necessary and time-intensive activity in the food manufacturing process. In order to reduce risk and maximize efficiency, every aspect of the cleaning process needs to be considered to mitigate time lost, while putting the end-user’s health and well-being first.
The best place to start when looking to buy new equipment? The time it takes to assemble and disassemble a machine.
Even the most efficient automation can set you back if it is difficult to take apart. Time is of the essence when it comes to manufacturing, and every minute counts – equipment that takes too long to disassemble won’t only set you back in time spent cleaning, but time spent on maintenance as well.
Some food manufacturers overlook a machine’s vital control systems as an area that needs to be cleaned, but doing so puts them at risk – these isolated areas can become a hotbed for bacterial growth, particularly when they are difficult to reach and are neglected in surface-level cleaning.
Machines like Quantum’s TC5 Waterfall Topping Applicator can be disassembled in under two minutes. Gull wings provide full access to the internal workings of the equipment, with removable parts that require no tools to disassemble. Everything from the funnel, the scrapers, and the top belt can be easily taken apart, making washdowns easier than ever.
Equipment design in food manufacturing can’t only focus on expediting the automation process – they must be built out of durable materials that are antimicrobial and resistant to common cleaning chemicals.
Soft metals are not a good choice when choosing equipment for your food manufacturing process. Stainless steel is a common option used, as it is resistant to bacterial growth. Plastics are growing in popularity for use in conveyors, as plastic is easy to clean and fairly sturdy.
Choose automation that is built to last, and built for ease of use. These two aspects are just as important as keeping your factory line running smoothly during operations, as they dictate the amount of time that will be spent on planned downtime.
When manufacturers think about automation, most of their mind turns to the bottom line – arranging their equipment in a way that expedites the manufacturing process. As a result, the placement of their production line is sometimes neglected. How does this relate to hygiene in food manufacturing?
A machine that is difficult to access is difficult to clean. This equates to greater amounts of time spent disassembling and cleaning a machine, but also a lack of access to surfaces can put your food manufacturing operations in jeopardy if key areas are not being sanitized.
The best food manufacturing automation considers equipment from every direction, so that no matter where a machine is located on the factory floor, every part can be easily washed down. This consideration must be taken by both the manufacturer and the person in charge of the factory layout – is your automation compatible with your factory’s setup?
Hygiene in Food Automation Starts with The Right Equipment
Food safety shouldn’t come at the cost of greater downtime, but it remains one of the most important variables when designing your assembly line. Thankfully, neither of these things has to be compromised. At Quantum Technical Services, we prioritize machines that are easy to disassemble and clean, operate at maximum efficiency, and can be purchased at a great value. Contact us today to learn more about our offerings.