Food safety professionals who maintain and manage Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP) or other food safety management systems are familiar with the importance of a preventive maintenance program. An effective preventive maintenance program ensures that equipment failures (or unplanned downtimes) are diminished. Predictive maintenance, however, uses real-time data to monitor the wear and tear of the equipment’s components and alerts the maintenance crew before the downtime occurs.
While both approaches are proactive by nature, here are some key parameters worth considering:
The automotive, aviation, and aerospace industries are some of the early adopters of condition monitoring. Condition monitoring, which is integral to predictive maintenance, uses sensor data from the machinery itself, along with other defined parameters such as duration or frequency of usage, vibration, operational temperature, and so on. Maintenance teams leverage condition monitoring to remotely monitor the health and safety of installed equipment.
Most preventive maintenance programs have routine inspections set to take place quarterly, half-yearly, or annually. When market trends change, so do operational requirements; the pandemic taught us a lesson on that globally. Predictive maintenance, done right, places the focus on the optimal use of the installed machinery. This takes the guesswork out of anticipating the “next breakdown,” and helps decision makers focus more on meeting production demands.
Costs Versus Investments
Although the cost of sensor-based technology components appear to be more affordable today, designing and implementing a customized predictive maintenance program itself may exceed the set budget. However, just like how the implemented and customized HACCP system is designed to save a business from costly food-related incidents or compromised safety systems, predictive maintenance programs are worthy investments. The cost of equipment breakdown doesn’t end with replacing damaged components of the machine itself. It has a ripple effect on labor costs, environmental safety, product inventory, distribution, and, ultimately, sales.
Predictive maintenance programs add a layer of safety for the maintenance crew, the engineering teams, and the front-line operatives. The traditional maintenance approach requires that a complete set of diagnostics be run before determining the appropriate method to fix the equipment. This not only requires more time and resources, but also creates “safety blind spots” for technicians who are working with competing deadlines. Predictive maintenance programs are able to pinpoint the cause of the deviation from the set parameters, and significantly cut down on diagnostic times.
Maintain Product Consistency
When replacement parts become a challenging find, food operatives may have to resort to replacing the entire machinery from a different source. This may have an impact on recipe formulation, product texture consistency, and may—at times—require other pieces of equipment to be adjusted. Predictive maintenance prevents such a scenario from unfolding by proactively monitoring the health of machine components in real time and allowing maintenance teams to prepare for a possible replacement before the need arises.
If you are considering implementing a predictive maintenance program, it is a good idea to involve the entire HACCP team for a more holistic, user-friendly, and practical approach.