Never underestimate what you don’t see in a food processing plant.
Keeping the ovens, floors, and tanks clean is an obvious priority. But maintenance tends to forget about the roof and the significant (and sometimes quite costly) ways the roof can cause quality problems and affect production.
When everything seems to be going well and there are no obvious problems, why go on the roof and check?
1. Roof Blowouts: Unseen Vulnerabilities
If you have a ventilation system on the roof that malfunctions and blows material on the roof, you’ll have a bird and rat infestation. Not so good for a food processing plant.
Also, when the blowout isn’t removed from the roof and it rains or snows (and melts), all that water efficiently washes everything from the roof into the storm drain. And too much discharge of solids in the storm drains brings fines from the county Storm Water Department, which becomes public knowledge and consequently interferes with getting new contracts.
2. Ovens with a Stack and a Unit on the Roof
“Why do we keep having problems with line 4?”
This type of ventilation filters the air as well as helps release heat, and has its own tank on the roof which is supposed to wash itself periodically with hot water. When that automatic washer breaks, carbon buildup crumbles down from the stack onto the food in the production line, providing unusual and unpleasant quality problems
3. Solar Panels
With more factories going green and using solar panels, those panels also need regular maintenance. Just like you need to pressure wash your concrete yearly to get it white again, solar panels build-up film and need cleaning at least yearly. But a simple hose won’t suffice. You need specific equipment for regaining and maximizing the efficiency of your solar panels
4. The Worst-Case Scenario
The most disastrous result when food manufacturers haven’t taken care of roof issues is fires. And the culprit? Dust. When a forklift hits something that creates a spark, that spark can (and does) travel, and when it lands on dust buildup it ignites. That in turn can cause a secondary ignition, causing more damage than the first fire. Be sure to schedule regular cleaning for dust and debris overhead.
Let’s Not Forget Inspections
It’s important how food manufacturing plants look. No spiders over the doors, dust in the rafters, or dirt in the corners. When the National Food Institute comes in and audits, even the shipping areas need to be clean – no long spider webs spanning the corners. That looks bad come audit time.
Keeping Costs Low
Some plant managers dislike preventative maintenance, but it always comes back to bite them later because everything takes longer, costs more, and there’s more damage to repair. It’s always cheaper to take care of things early.
Be aware of what’s on your roof. The state of equipment on the roof, and whether it’s working properly or not, is critical to the functioning of the plant. Make a list of all equipment on your roof, and set up a maintenance and training schedule to prevent problems from happening in the first place. Need help? Get expert advice here.
Whether you do it yourself, or you subcontract it out, you’re always better off at a food processing plant getting roof maintenance done regularly.
Keep the surprises out of food processing.