Betrek alle bedrijfsdisciplines bij de evaluatie van een machineontwerp –
Include all departments in equipment design reviews
In the past years, I have worked with many companies who are looking to improve the hygienic design of their equipment and facilities. Recently I started working with a food processing company looking for more knowledge on hygienic design, which has turned into a complete new process of designing, buying and accepting equipment.
Importance of Hygienic Design
A process like this starts with people that have a passion for their job and includes people from engineering, production, sanitation, quality, food safety, and maintenance. When the passion is there, and all functions work together on the common goal to improve food safety, a change process like this can start. The change process starts with understanding why it is important, how to evaluate, and how to improve hygienic design. This is a matter of training. Then it is important to collaborate with equipment manufacturers who are willing to invest and make that change with us.
Designing a piece of equipment to be functional and so, it can be cleaned and sanitized effectively, can be an engineering challenge. This is more critical today than ever, as food safety focus gets stronger.
When there are several Food Safety issues in a food processing company or in the industry, a company will have a higher focus on hygienic design. When there are few issues, unfortunately this focus becomes less. With that, let us take a baseline assumption that when everything else stays equal, sanitation effectiveness significantly improves with better hygienic design. We can also state that sanitation effectiveness directly affects food safety, and therefore hygienic design directly affects food safety.
Cross departmental evaluation team
So how can food-processing companies have an impact on improving hygienic equipment design? It is key to set up a hygienic design review process within a company for new equipment. Equipment needs to be reviewed from all different angles when it comes to hygienic design, and all disciplines affected within a plant should be involved. The best and most effective way is to create a cross-functional team including; quality, maintenance, production, engineering and any other departments impacted by the design of equipment.
Hygienic design is teamwork, and should be a process aimed at continuous improvement. Each design or concept needs to be evaluated and improved again. That means back to the drawing board, until a satisfactory design has been reached. Once that has happened, cleaning procedures need developing based on current knowledge. Take into account that these cleaning procedures will have to be validated, once we actually start cleaning our new piece of equipment.
With the equipment in operation and cleaning executed, unforeseen issues might arise. Some areas are hard to reach, or need dismantling more often than anticipated. These design flaws then need to be monitored and managed through adjusted cleaning procedures. When these turn out to be of high risk, re-designing is required and it’s back to the drawing board.
Referring back to the food processing company I recently started working with; Instead of a high intensity on hygienic design today that will diminish as time passes, they are taking a smart approach to create a culture where hygienic design reviews and continuous improvements are top of mind at all times. Enabling active involvement from all departments, creates a sense of ownership and responsibility over hygienic design, for which consumers will be grateful.
Karin Blacow works at Commercial Food Sanitation, an Intralox company, and writes a regular column for Food Process Magazine. Her column is published in Dutch, but a translation is available for your reading pleasure below.
As Food Safety Specialist, Karin visits food manufacturers on a weekly basis. In her column she shares her experiences and specifically those items that she feels will make a difference when it comes to food safety.