Attentive and correct handling of raw materials, semi processed, and finished food products are indispensable to streamline food processing lines and optimize product quality. The use of several types of material handling systems in food processing units brings several benefits. These include; substantial saving of storage space, better stock control, safe conveyance of products between production lines, lower risk of accidents, and reduced processing time, among others.
However, in order to get the best out of these material handling systems, food processing industries must maintain and handle them in the right way. Discussed in this blog are some guidelines that help extend the life of your material handling equipment when used in food processing units.
Basic Tips to Maintaining Material Handling Systems
The food processing industry utilizes a wide range of conveyor systems, specialty systems (like cooling tunnel, container gripper, and tray closer), and racks to automate their production line. All these equipment are prone to damage with repeated usage for years. However, you can extend their service life by paying close attention to their maintenance procedures.
Following are the five basic ways, with the help of which you can enhance the performance and service life of your material handling systems.
- Familiarize Your Employees with the System’s Operation – Provide adequate training to your employees! Unfamiliarity regarding the operation not only damages the system, but also places the lives of employees at risk. With proper training, you can ensure that your employees use the system in the right manner for an application. Moreover, whenever you upgrade the existing material handling system to incorporate new features, let your operator know about and understand the add-on features.
- Closely Observe and Take Proactive Measures – Let your food processing plant’s supervisors communicate with material handling systems’ operators on a timely basis. This helps your supervisors have up-to-date knowledge on the condition of material handling equipment. This will also help them identify minor issues, and they can take immediate action in repairing the problems.
- Act According to the Manufacturer’s Instructions – Way of operation and maintenance requirements of material handling units vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. Hence, it is crucial to operate and maintain the units as per the instructions of the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM). Always remember that, one set of maintenance protocols will not work for all types of material handling systems.
- Preventive and Predictive Maintenance Always Help – Formulate a preventive maintenance program and execute it at regular intervals. This helps avoid unanticipated downtime that can affect the entire production line. Preventive maintenance also helps you keep your equipment operating optimally, whilst avoiding spending huge costs in terms of emergency repairs.
Predictive maintenance also goes hand in hand with preventive maintenance. Predictive maintenance involves keeping track of the unit’s hours of work and the various tasks it undertakes. Based on the complexity of applications, you must decide on when the service is performed.
Material handling units are integral components when it comes to the food processing industry. They are contributing largely in processing foods faster by maintaining a high level of quality. They must be handled carefully and maintained periodically to prevent unanticipated malfunctions, which can affect the entire production line.
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