The original quality of food needs to be maintained during its shelf life; if
the process to pasteurize or sterilize a rough product, to pack and transport it, is not reliable, food safety can be heavily compromised.
A food packaging line can be complex, with many critical control points that need to be monitored. Some of them are constantly monitored through automatic devices, but many need to be put under control through specific maintenance activities. Lack of systematic control of such criticalities may result in a huge food contamination that is dangerous for public health.
This Good Manufacturing Practice examines problems existing in this industry sector and proposes, as a solution, a process to design and implement maintenance activities intended to put food and equipment criticalities under control. These two complementary processes (design and implementation) have been thought and designed to answer the particular needs of the food industry regarding product safety and equipment reliability. Numerous researchers have focused on maintenance engineering and reliability techniques highlighting the contribution of maintenance in achieving world-class manufacturing and competitive advantage. Their outcome emphasizes that maintenance is not a “necessary evil” because of costs associated, but it can be considered an “investment” that produces an added value that generates a real company profit. The existing maintenance engineering techniques and prcatices pursue equipment reliability at minimum cost, but in the food industry, food safety represents the most critical issue to address and solve. Many case studies show that low maintenance effectiveness could have dramatic effects on final consumers and on the company’s image. They underline the need for a maintenance design and implementation process that takes into consideration all critical factors relevant to the food industry.
The increasing regulations in place in the food industry and lack of literature available to establish food safety through a maintenance design and implementation process for food packaging lines, represent the stimulus to present this practice to try to fill this important gap. The findings produced by this research, and many years of experience on the field, provided a useful guide to identify the process to design maintenance tasks able to put under control food safety and equipment reliability criticalities.
The scope of this project is to aid food producers, consultants, students to fill the gap existing between equipment reliability and food product safety by showing important solutions to manage both food safety and manufacturing effectiveness issues in the food industry. This result is achieved through the identification of a maintenance design process able to capture all conceivable critical factors in the food manufacturing lines and to provide a solution to design reliable task lists. The maintenance design and implementation process proposed represents an answer for reliable management of food safety and
equipment criticalities, to allow the food industry to improve its global
Producers, consultants, students and then final consumers will benefit of positive effects generated by this practice that include a dramatic reduction of product contamination cases, less non conformity products, higher profittability and competitive advantage.
BRUNEL UNIVERSITY - United KingdomLead applicant
University based in London Undergraduate, Postgraduate and Research Courses
Maintenance & Engineering - United KingdomInitiative partner
Editorial and Conference
Productivity Press - United StatesInitiative partner
Books and Journal Editor
Food Manufacturing effectiveness through maintenance
The main innovation is based on the process to design and implement maintenance procedures intended to establish food safety through equipment and process reliability. (The documentation that describes the design and the implementation processes habe been attached on step 7 and 10).
This produces economical benefits generated by higher production effectiveness and product quality and safety both for producers and consumers. Reduction of waste (food product, packaging materials, energy...) represents another important benefit that reduces production costs and improve the company's competitive advantage.
Many maintenance practices have been designed for different manufacturing processes and realities, but nothing specifically for food industry. This innovative and tailored process enable food manufacturing companies to discover and put under control critical variables depending on equipment, on operating personnel and that could have an adverse effect on food product sefety.
The environment in which the project has been implemented presents different criticalities based on:
1. LEGISLATIVE CONTEXT
Compliance with product safety EEC directives and international standards represent a mandatory requirement for those who operate in food industry. Current legislation on food packaging call the producers to identify the equipment critical control points in order to put them under control during the different production phases. In the aseptic packaging, which is the most critical food sector, the following are some of the functions that can be considered as critical to satisfy product and process requirements:
• Product sterilization
• Equipment sterilization
• Package forming, filling and sealing
• Package handling.
Manufacturers of food products have to comply with legal requirements. For example, EEC directive 92/46 specifies food composition, safety, hygiene and labelling. At the present time, rules, guidelines and regulations, covering Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) for long-life products, are being formulated in an increasing number of countries, either on a voluntary or legislative basis. Furthermore Hazard Analysis of Critical Control Points (HACCP) is a production process control methodology introduced at the European Community level (Dec.1995) through the EEC directive 93/43. Directive 852/04 sets a mandate to incorporate best practices in hygiene, sanitation, health and product safety through the application of HACCP principles as guidelines. EEC Directives 852, 853, 854 and others, including 1331, set the general guidelines, that call food sectors to implement and maintain a fundamental system for hazard analysis leading to the identification of critical points relevant to food safety.
The mandate set by these directives must be enforced ensuring compliance, by the various food industry sectors, considering the risk factor and implications. HACCP identifies and assesses specific hazards, estimates risks and establishes control measures that emphasize product safety and its control rather than reliance on end product testing and traditional inspection methods. HACCP presumes that not all phases of a food production process are dangerous to man. Therefore, its attention is concentrated on analyzing only process and equipment critical control points and not the whole production process.
Food safety problems produced by low equipment reliability represent one of the most common cause of product contamination. This section introduces, as an example, the production process in place in the Aseptic Liquid Food (ALF) industry (main process): starting from raw liquid product, Ultra High Temperature (UHT) sterilization, aseptic packaging, up to storage and distribution. Equipment and process criticalities are defined together with potential interactions existing between equipment reliability and product safety.
The ALF process and criticalities
The manufacturing process for an ALF packaging line is based on three main operations:
(a) Food product processing (UHT sterilization)
Product processing covers the processes from the raw product inlet tank of the UHT sterilizer, to the product inlet valve of the aseptic filling equipment. The inlet product is sterilized through different technical solutions, but a commercially sterile food, as result, must be free from toxins, pathogenic micro-organisms, and micro-organisms that can grow under normal storage and distribution conditions.
(b) Aseptic packaging (aseptic filling)
Aseptic packaging or aseptic filling covers the processes from the product filling valve (of the filling machine) to the final closure of containers. The sterile product is pumped into a sterile environment to be introduced in the packaging material or container normally sterilized by the aseptic filler. Package filling, forming, sealing and cutting are critical operations necessary to produce a hermetic filled package/container ready to be stored and distributed.
(c) Container distribution and storage
Container distribution covers the processes from the filling machine output to the storage of the container (distribution machines such as straw or spoon applicator, tray packers, and palletizer are normally used for this purpose).
An ALF process must satisfy four main requirements:
1) Raw liquid product sterilization,
2) Aseptic packaging,
3) Production of hermetic sealed packages or containers, and
4) Package/container integrity preservation during distribution and storage.
The raw product must be sterilized, packed, and kept sterile during the different phases of its shelf life. To achieve this result, the liquid product must follow an aseptic transfer throughout the whole process. After product sterilization, the liquid is pumped into a container that has been previously sterilized. The sterile product conserved in the closed container can be contaminated at any time if container integrity is lost. A small hole, of the dimension of one micrometer, produced by a scratch or due to bad container sealing, may produce product contamination. Some critical functions, such as:
• Equipment sterilization,
• Packaging material or container sterilization,
• Container filling with food product,
• Container forming, sealing and cutting, and
• Container handling
might cause food product contamination if an appropriate maintenance activity is not carried out on the line equipments. Product contamination can be dangerous to public health and the production unit responsible for such problem can be forced to close down its activity.
3. CULTURAL CONTEXT
A maintenance process, intended to maintain the equipment criticalities under control, represents a mandatory requisite to insure equipment reliability, necessary to avoid negative interactions between equipment and food product safety. Since a machine failure can have such a tremendous impact on the public health and on the whole manufacturing company, all the conceivable reasons of equipment failure must be identified and monitored to eliminate possible risks to human health. Lack of maintenance procedures, designed and implemented to keep the process “in control”, may also result in heavy losses and low market share due to a poor product safety and quality. In spite of these requirements and stringent health and safety regulations, many companies operating in food processing show appalling complacency when it comes to investigating the reasons behind low food process safety and equipment reliability. In this project we investigate the effects produced by equipment failure and downtime on product safety to highlights the importance of a maintenance design and implementation process specifically designed for food industry. Lack of literature to define a reliable maintenance design and implementation process for food industry, may represent an important gap to be filled to avoid poor manufacturing effectiveness which produce a serious risk for the final consumer’s health. Moreover, a manufacturing company responsible for such events may also experience a big market share and huge economical losses. Sometimes a machine fault creates a big disturbance to the whole process since all the equipment must be stopped to carry out the cleaning and sterilization programme. Therefore, while the time necessary for preventive maintenance activities can be properly reserved, an extraordinary failure will produce disturbance to the planned production and heavy losses due to the unexpected downtime. Lack of maintenance procedures, or a maintenance approach based on reactive maintenance to equipment failure, may produce biological, chemical, and physical risks on the product packed. The process to design and implement maintenance procedures must ensure that all conceivable critical points that may result in product contamination have been identified and put under control through the implementation of reliable maintenance procedures. Too often, maintenance design and implementation is only based on reactive actions intended to fix specific problems or failures happening during the daily operations. A food packaging line is often complex, with many critical control points that need to be put under control through specific maintenance activities. Automatic monitoring devices represent a mandatory solution to monitor critical variables, but lack of a systematic maintenance control of such criticalities may result in a huge food contamination that can be dangerous for public health. Maintenance is to be considered non a cost, but an investment that produces a company’s competitive advantage through a reliable control of all product and equipment criticalities.
During my last thirty years spent in food industry, I realized that reliable solutions depend not only from knowledge of maintenance and food engineering techniques, but also on ability to get people commitment and promote a real cultural change.
The manufacturing company’s competitiveness is heavily dependent on quality, line performance and maintenance cost. Maintenance cost represents the investment that produce an added value measured through the key performance indicators (KPIs) that highlight higher equipment effectiveness and product safety.
Here below the main KPIs used to measure costs and benefits are showed:
• Direct maintenance costs
Direct maintenance costs have to be seen as the investment intended to generate added value in terms of higher company’s competitiveness. These costs normally refer to manpower salaries, spare parts, templates and technical documentation (necessary to improve equipment supportability).
• Indirect maintenance costs
Indirect maintenance costs are those costs generated by a poor packaging line effectiveness due to lack of maintenance or unreliable maintenance and implementation design. Lack of maintenance affects not only maintenance costs, but also operational and capital costs. In food industry these costs can be really heavy and could be due to non conformity products claimed from the market or even worse to product unsterility discovered on the company’s warehouse or on the market. Packaging material and product waste represent another source of cost normally associated to a poor maintenance program.
• Loss of revenue
Loss of revenue is produced by the equipment standstill or rejection of products. Every hour of production lost is to be regarded in terms of missing containers sold on the market, and every container rejected represents a damage depending on loss of revenue and waste of money to produce and withdraw the container from the market. This loss can usually be measured through the net profit margin that the company should have earn in selling the packages not produced because of equipment failure. A maintenance program based on corrective approach only may result in poor equipment availability and unpredicted equipment downtime.
Here below, the figures drawn from a food company were the project has been implemented shows the deployment of the indirect costs, the loss of revenue and the direct costs of:
• the company (A) before the project with a maintenance policy mainly based on corrective maintenance;
• the same company (B) after the project that implemented a preventive maintenance program.
The cost analysis, carried out during a quality audit, have shown these main costs:
- Indirect costs (A):
(a) packaging material waste: 4% on 200 millions of packs/year = 850.000 Euro;
(b) Product unsterility/year: No. 2 main cases = 35.000 Euro;
(c) Non conformity product: No. 60.000 non conformity packages = 10.000 Euro;
(d) Energy loss: due to equipment downtime = 2000 Euro;
(e) Chemicals loss: due to cleaning phases following equipment failure = 5000 Euro.
Total indirect costs = 902.000 Euro.
- Indirect costs (B):
(a) packaging material waste: 2% on 200 millions of packs/year = 423.500 Euro;
(b) Product unsterility/year: No. 1 small case = 10.000 Euro;
(c) Non conformity product: No. 7.000 non conformity packages = 2.000 Euro;
(d) Energy loss: due to equipment downtime = 1200 Euro;
(e) Chemicals loss: due to cleaning phases following equipment failure = 2000 Euro.
Total indirect costs = 438.700 Euro.
- Loss of Revenue
The net margin, for each filled package produced, is 10 Euro Cents, and the packages lost (not produced) in one year, from company (A) compare to company (B), because of equipment inefficiency, are four millions higher. As result the annual loss of revenue of company (A) compare to company (B) is 400.000 Euro higher.
- Direct costs
The direct costs, including among others, manpower, spare part costs, and external training and services costs, have shown that costs of company (B), compared to company (A), were higher than 40.000 Euro.
The costs comparison emphasized that an investment of 40.000 Euro, in a reliable preventive maintenance program (direct cost), has generated the following savings on the other cost indicators:
- Indirect costs: 436.300 Euro,
- Loss of revenue: 400.000 Euro.
The savings showed above represent the result of important changes in the company. The tendency to overestimate direct costs without considering the potential savings that can be obtained on the other cost indicators, is self-explanatory of an old management culture unable to get an holistic view of manufacturing reality.
A short term cost view can often be seen as a way to reduce cost, especially during downturn time, but, as we saw, it can shows terrible effects on indirect maintenance costs and on loss of revenue.
Other benefits, difficult to measure, showed a better holistic view of production activities. People involved in production supervision and operation, in maintenance and in quality control, realized a wider integration that produced, as benefit, more time available for other added value activities.
People who benefit of this initiative have these targets and needs:
1. Food company's management
Managers are normally looking for higher manufacturing effectivenes. Their main target is to improve equipment efficiency, reducing both equipment stops, failures, wastes and non conformty products. This result must be achieved avoiding costs increase and with a wider participation of different categories of people involved in the manufacturing environment. Economical and technical indicators enable the different category of managers to monitor the real benefits produced by the initiative. Facts and figures are normaly the only valuable argument that reduce the fear of project failure and convince the people on the real competitive advantage generated by the project.
2. Equipment operators
Equipment operators normally seek for a wider participation in the manufacturing activities. They feel the necessity to be involved not only on practical issues, but also on the process that lead the management teams to take important decisions on production practices. Their main target is to improve their ability for wider participation and a higher salary. Many of them are willing to be involved in quality circles, in improvement projects which foresee the need to measure their personal performance. They see the training activities as a challenging opportunity to grow and give their personal contribution for the growth of their company.
3. Quality and maintenance specialists
The integration between maintenance specialists and equipment operators enable maintenance specialists to realize different benefits: (a) more time available to solve critical and complex technical problems, (b) less time spent on basic and preventive maintenace services, (c) less extraordinary maintenance due to equipment failures and (d) better cooperation with equipment operators. Maintenance specialists seek to improve their ability for wider participation and a higher salary. Quality specialists have the same order of expectations with a specific focus on food product quality. They benefit on the ability of equipment operators to solve problems at source instead of relying on quality controls, carried out by the quality experts, on end product. For this reason they are willing to train and share their knowledge with equipment operators in order to enable them to carry out quality checks autonomously.
4. Final consumers
Final consumers expectations regard the food product quality and safety. They trust on the ability of food producer to be able to guarantee the quality and safety of the product which is dependant on reliable practices put in place to manage biological, chemical and physical risks existing in the production process.
People who benefit of the results produced by this project were aware that maintenance is sometimes perceived as a disturbance. Some manufacturing units consider production as the sole added value activity that takes place in the shop-floor. Where this view prevails, management is characterized by a reactive approach based on short term problem fixing. As result the short term view of the company’s management does not allow the implementation of a competitive maintenance plan (investment) and to realize the benefits coming from less operational cost and higher product safety. Here below some maintenance indexes allow technical managers to show the added value and competitive advantage produced by the reliable maintenance design and implementation program implemented.
a) Maintenance Cost / Added Value
Maintenance cost includes all costs directly allocated to maintenance activities. Added value means valued production minus expenses due to supply contracts for goods and services from third parties. It measures the incidence of maintenance cost on value added (in terms of increased value that product packed has received at the end of production, minus costs due to third parties).
b) Maintenance Cost / Valued Annual Production Maintenance cost includes all costs directly allocated to maintenance activities. Valued annual production is the total production value to the sales price or transfer price (of a company, cost center, etc..) in a year. It measures the incidence of cost of maintenance on product value.
c) Maintenance Cost / Amount Produced
Maintenance cost are all costs directly allocated to maintenance activities.
This formula measures the incidence of the cost of maintenance on the quantity produced. It provides guidance on maintenance management, with reference to the volume produced from the plant over the relative period.
d) Service Hours / Amount Produced This formula measures the incidence of maintenance, in terms of time, on the quantity produced. It provides guidance on maintenance management with reference to the production volume of the plant. It provides a measure of personnel efficiency, of equipment and resources used in maintenance and effectiveness of services done.
The beneficiaries of the initiative had different targets:
- Company's Management: Higher productivity and quality together with cost reduction;
- Personnel involved in production activities: Higher salary, higher manufacturing effectiveness (efficiency and quality) through a wider integration and better sense of ownership of production activities.
The deployment of people involved is seen looking at the organization of the customer and the project team.
CUSTOMER: The personnel progressively involved on different packaging line were equipment operators running the equipment (product heat treatment, product filling and downstream lines), quality control specialists mainly involved in the end product quality control and maintenance specialists who performed maintenance services.
- Equipment operators were involved in: (a) operating the equipment (pre-production, production activities and cleaning procedures) (b) daily, weekly and preventive maintenance (of the equipment under their responsibility) activities and in (c) quality control activities.
- Quality control specialist were involved in : (a) end product quality control (b) training to equipment operators.
- Maintenance specialists were involved in: (a) specislist corrective and preventive maintenance (b) training to equipment operators.
Moreover production, technical and quality directors were regularly updated and involved in different project activities.
PROJECT TEAM: One project leader was involved in planning, monitoring and presenting the project results to customer management, two project coordinators were involved in implementing the project and managing regular meetings with equipment operators, maintenance and quality specialists, and four service technicians carried out maintenance services and training activity for personnel involved.
The difficulties met during the project implementation can be summarized as follow:
1. Technical drawbacks
With technical drawbacks I refer to:
(a) Technological or reliability problems placed by some of the equipments available in the production line;
(b) Lack of technical documentation available for some equipments of the line;
(c) Lack of training or service support for the packaging line equipment.
Equipment reliability and technological problems
Sometimes equipments showed reliability problems that produce real production line bottlenecks that cannot be overcame by a reliable maintenance program.
When we dealt with home/tailor made or customized equipment with reliability problems, we involved the equipment designer as a mandatory step necessary to identify both the unreliability causes and an improvement program to upgrade the equipment up to an acceptable reliability level. To gain a clear picture about the problems and relative causes that determine low line efficiency the following procedures were implemented:
(1) Production audit
Through a production audit, carried out by a trained staff, was possible to gather numerical figures that highlighted the different causes behind production stops. Every type of production stop were recorded, together with the relative cause, to allows the team to classify the stop time and possibly the reason behind it.
(2) Production stop categorization
In order to categorize equipment and stop reasons, production stops related to equipment, practices or utilities were split for systems, sub-systems and stop category type.
(3) Production stop prioritization
The different stop reasons with relative categorization, were weighted according to the intensity of disturbance produced during the normal operation.
(4) Analysis of priorities
After a selection of main stop reasons, a deeper analysis of potential causes were undertaken to identify the technical reasons behind every stop.
(5) Equipment improvement
A detailed list of problems, with causes that determine equipment or line inefficiency were examined by the equipment designer or supplier to identify the corrective design activities necessary to overcome technical drawbacks and produce better equipment performance.
2. Organizational drawbacks
The organizational model chosen by a food company can give a great contribution to maintenance effectiveness if some important quality methodologies become the source of inspiration in promoting co-operation, best practices and in removing inertia and bureaucracy. These are the main difficulties encountered:
(a) Lack of autonomous maintenance carried out by the equipment operator
The organization in place in some food industry plants shows traditional boundaries among different departments and narrow definition of roles and functions. Normally, as in this case, equipment operators are not involved in maintenance activities for the following reasons:
• Lack of the necessary skill, and
• Different company policy.
Regarding the equipment operator role, few companies normally establish a serious training program to enable the operators to grow to the level required to carry out autonomous maintenance. This situation emphasises that maintenance activities are considered the sole domain of maintenance specialists. The concept “I produce and you repair” is generally well established for the following reasons:
• Narrow view of equipment operator role;
• Fear to increase equipment operator salary;
• Fear to obtain lower equipment efficiency and availability.
We found that against operator involvement in autonomous maintenance activities, plays an important role the unavailability of technical and quality specialists to share their competence and experience with equipment operators. Frictions among different departments is sometime another adverse force which leads the departments to limit their co-operation.
To be able to implement maintenance procedures effectively, we empower the role of equipment operator to carry out autonomous maintenance and good manufacturing practices that have a direct impact on equipment criticalities identified in the HACCP process.
To avoid this organizational drawback, top management was committed to supply a continuous support to the whole organization, and middle managers that should ensure a wider participation of technical specialists for a real integration of company’s roles.
When autonomous maintenance implemented by the equipment operators lack of effectiveness, because of poor co-operation and support provided by maintenance and quality specialists, specialists were trained to identify the advantages coming from an effective implementation of Autonomous Maintenance (AM). When equipment operators were supported by maintenance and quality specialists, the following benefits were experienced:
• Less corrective maintenance and troubleshooting that allow maintenance specialists to use their time to improve equipments and to be involved on more complex technical activities;
• Less product quality and safety non conformities that allow quality specialists to use their time to improve GMPs and to carry out analysis of quality figures to be shown to equipment operators;
• Higher equipment efficiency, less product and packaging material waste;
• Improved quality of containers produced and packed;
• Improved equipment hygiene, cleanliness and capacity to discover anomalies;
• Better KPIs and improved pay-performance salaries.
Above all, specialists finally shared their knowledge and gave their support to equipment operators, for the achievement of the highest possible company’s competitive advantage. This result was strongly dependant on relationship existing among different categories of workers: a warm and altruistic behaviour saved from conflicts, errors, and losses. Managers gave their example and support the workforce in promoting a better ability of everyone to help and support colleagues in their role.
3. Cultural drawbacks
I found that lack of basic maintenance/technical engineering knowledge, quite often, does not enable middle management to motivate company’s employees, to support them in overcoming problems during the implementation phase.
- Old management culture
Because maintenance is sometimes perceived as a disturbance, some manufacturing units consider production as the sole added value activity planned in the shop-floor. In these realities, characterised by a reactive approach, based on short term problem fixing, emphasis is placed only on production: output has to be produced on time, at the minimum cost and in the ordered quantity. To support this culture, managers argue that the reliability of the equipment available today enables reduction of equipment downtime and that corrective maintenance is the only maintenance approach needed in this context. As result the short term view of company’s management does not allow to build up a competitive plant: lack of quality methodologies, bureaucracy and barriers among the departments determine poor equipment efficiency and product safety. The analysis of culture in place in a food company is an important prerequisite to carry out before maintenance engineering implementation can take place. If the forces which are ranged against maintenance design and implementation are not examined and managed in advance, implementation failure can be experienced.
The use of Field Force Analysis (FFA) technique, enabled to list the cultural restraining forces in place in the organization, to carry out the analysis for the implementation of different countermeasures necessary to move to a state of production effectiveness. Often some managers in charge over the manufacturing unit, tend to limit their role just regarding to production planning, to cost control and managing routine daily activities. Their ability to fix daily problems and drawbacks, to fill planning gaps due to lack of personnel or material seems to be the most important task for their role. Both, equipment operators and maintenance specialists, feel instead the necessity to be supported by managers with specific technical skills who can trace the way forward for them. If the staff involved in the “productive maintenance” shall not be leaded by managers fully convinced and enthusiasts for the project they are responsible for, it is very likely that the project itself will not succeed, but fail.
Middle managers involved in this project were trained to gain organizational and technical skill that makes them real points of reference for the staff involved. When it should arise discouragements, or difficulties in the integration process between equipment operators and technical specialists, project managers were able to motivate staff and influence the proper allocation of duties and responsibilities of a technical nature. Managing a project that involves a change, it means also and above all manage people involved with their expectations, concerns and disappointments. I saw that it is not enough to manage technical, organizational and economical issues, success of a complex project go through the proper management of human resources involved in the project.
As soon as we improved the equipment effectiveness (both efficiency and quality) the positive results of this project produced a strong impact on environment, especially in the following areas:
1. Energy saving
When the equipment efficiency is higher the same amount of containers can be produced in less time and this enables a reduction of all sources of energy used to produce the product required. A small improvement in the manufacturing line efficiency produces a huge reduction of energy consumption. This depends on the fact that the running time of all the equipments that make up the line is evenly reduced. In this way the different services to the machines (voltage, air, water, steam...) with the specific sources of energy can be drastically reduced.
2. Food product and Material waste The equipment unreliability produces frequent short stops and failures with a big amount of food product waste. At every equipment stop and restart a constant number of containers with auxiliary material have to be wasted. Both filled and empty containers must be opened and cleaned in order to treat them as material waste.
3. Cleaning solutions
When the time necessary to restore the equipment after a failure goes beyond a certain threshold, some of the equipments need to be cleaned before production restart. The standard cleaning procedures require the use of a certain amount of energy, water and chemicals. Steam, hot water, alkali and acid solutions are normally required to carry out an effective cleaning procedure able to remove the product residues from different equipment components, like pipes, valves and metal containers.
4. Hydrogen peroxide
The equipment efficiency improvement produces a reduction of hydrogen peroxide (sterile solution used to sterilize equipments and packaging material) consumption with a minor quantity of gas evacuated from the machine and introduced in the internal and external environment. Despite the hydrogen peroxide is normally properly conveyed through pipes, the gas dispersed in the environment produces small problems to people and environment.
Workforce cultural change
The implementation of different methodologies like Total Productive Maintenance (TPM) and World Class Manufacturing (WCM) enabled people to gain a hierarchy of needs (as specified by Maslow) that they naturally perform well in the service of objectives to which they are committed and that they learn and seek responsibility. Japanese employees, for instance, typically enjoy in a much longer-term relationship with their employing organisations and hence have a much stronger sense of “shared destiny”. Work systems based on team-working and quality circles determine a responsibility for quality that lay with production workers. Despite during the project we implemented different Total Quality Management (TQM) projects, in general, the company's culture in Italy is still too much based on strong functional departments which make interdepartmental co-operation difficult. The culture in many italian food industries is at the present too much based only on short term company results. The definition of KPI enabled company’s management to identify measurable objectives. While in a wrong cultural context these KPI could be used to achieve personal short term results, disregarding the medium-long term effects of decisions, some managers made correct use of this indicators, transfering this important management style on other production activities.
Co-operation between equipment operators and maintenance specialists, integration of production, quality and maintenance departments have been effectively achieved with personnel that shared the same values.
Too often latest technology, marketing and commercial issues are considered the sole competitive tools able to produce higher market share while the human resources are a sort of necessary evil, but not a winning factor to manage for a higher market share. The particular care put in designing the maintenance implementation plan, in defining the training programmes and team work formation, enabled the top management to improve their opinion on the added value produced by the personnel involved in the project.
The introduction of Total Quality Management principles in a cultural context that is reluctant to change its nature based on bureaucracy, and on lack of integration, may produce a formal application of TQM performance indicators to pursue the achievement of personal results instead of company’s results. The promotion of corporate values allowed to shift the focus from the individual to the interests of all workers.
Management By Objectives (MBO) defines the objectives assigned to each individual through a systematic monitoring and regular evaluation to make the worker aware of the results obtained at every stage of the process. The basic steps for the implementation of MBO are:
• The identification of shared objectives;
• Specification of measurable results expected;
• Assigning a target date within which the goal objectives is to be reached;
• Monitoring the achievement of results at regular intervals.
Some companies started to look for two main classes of objectives:
1) Objectives of contribution:
They concern the contribution that an employee must provide for the achievement of a targeted result and the conditions for their achievement;
2) Objectives of competence:
They concern the acquisition of knowledge and skills aimed at achieving the objectives of contribution.
This project enabled different category of people to discover that human being is intrinsically willing to pursue objective of competence and knowledge to give his contribution for the achievement of company’s results. Some managers considered as a mandatory management task to promote these two objectives, with all personnel, at every level of the organization to establish the highest level of employee satisfaction and make use of all human resource potential available in the company.
These practices have been implemented in different food packaging plants based in Italy. The planning for implementation normally involve activities that takes from one to three years (depending on the number of packaging lines involved and their complexity). The benfits achieved last many years (depending on many factors that include management and workforce committment...). People involved in the project are now committed to look for continuous improvement activities to be carried out in their specifica area of competence. The Equipment operator empowerment is now a winning project result that enables these people to be proactive in identifying booth food safety critical factors and best practices able to establish food safety and equipment reliability. On the other side quality and maintenance specialists are, at the present, effectively integrated with equipment operators. The cultural barriers that did not enable them to establish a good communication with operators and other specialists have been removed and they are happy to share and receive informations from other partners. The production management teams monitor and share key performance indicators that show a reduction of food safety and quality problems associated with an increased equipment reliability.
In this space I introduce the documentation that show the main content of the project. The articles describe the maintenance design and implementation process. These two processes are original and specially tailored for food industry environment, to address and solve the criticalities existing in this particular industry sector.
Moreover, while FMEA (Failure Mode and Effect Analysis), a well known tool widely used in maintenance engineering, can be effectively implemented in mechanical industry, the new tool, named FMEHA (Failure Mode Effect and Hazard Analysis) enabled to better cope with the complexities existing in the food industry environment. This tool catch and describes critical issues starting from the three main food safety hazards: Biological, Chemical and Physical risks. Differently from FMEA, which focus its attention to equipment reliability, FMEHA highlight food safety risks, identify and weight all potential causes that may produce food safety risks.