Ageing food processing equipment can cause several issues and challenges for industrial food manufacturers. To mitigate these risks, manufacturers should regularly assess the condition of their industrial food equipment, plan for upgrades or replacements at strategic intervals, and invest in maintenance and repairs as needed. In this article, we look at the issues that can arise from ageing food equipment, and how to implement the right remedial solutions for your business.
Consequences Of Faulty Food Processing Equipment:
Many of the issues surrounding ageing food processing equipment arise from inadequate maintenance. Not having the correct maintenance schedule in place can have a direct impact on the ageing of your machines and their lifetime value, making your assets more costly to repair and replace. Some of the main issues faced by manufacturers from ageing equipment include:
- Downtime and reduce productivity: one of the major concerns with ageing food equipment is that it becomes less efficient and more prone to breakdowns over time, due to accumulated wear and tear. When equipment breaks down, production processes can come to a halt, causing delayed orders, dissatisfied customers, and lost revenues.
- Increased operating costs: Ageing equipment is more prone to faults and can be more expensive to operate than newer equipment. As assets deteriorate, they become less energy-efficient, leading to higher operating overheads. Older equipment may also require more frequent and costly maintenance, repairs, and replacement parts, eating into a manufacturer’s profits and reducing market competitiveness. The ideal solution for managing increased equipment costs is often to invest in new equipment that consumes less energy and requires less hands-on maintenance.
- Health and safety concerns: Older food processing equipment can pose safety risks to workers, jeopardising their health and well-being. These concerns arise from malfunctions and mechanical issues that increase the risk of electrical shorts and fires, posing significant safety hazards in the workplace. When considering the cost benefits of repairs vs replacements, it is crucial to prioritise operator safety by maintaining your equipment correctly, conducting regular safety audits and risk assessments of work processes and equipment, and replacing older equipment with safer models.
- Non-compliance: Regulatory standards and frameworks evolve over time, so ageing equipment may not meet the current regulatory requirements, putting manufacturers at risk of non-compliance penalties. In extreme cases, non-compliance with food safety standards could cause reputational damage, reduced revenues, and even forced closure. Regular compliance audits and equipment replacement protocols can help protect your business from the risks associated with non-compliance.
- Decreased product quality: The food production industry hinges on quality; without high quality and safe products, customers will not return. Older commercial food equipment may not be able to produce products of the same quality as newer assets, leading to lower levels of customer satisfaction.
Food Service Equipment Maintenance Solutions
There are several solutions that manufacturers can adopt to mitigate the risks associated with older equipment:
1. Replace Broken Parts Immediately
If your food processing equipment has any broken parts, there is a risk that they may end up in the food, which could lead to your food processing plant being shut down for non-compliance with food safety regulations. It is essential to conduct regular checks to identify any broken parts and replace them immediately.
2. Keep A Good Stock Of Spares
To avoid extended repair downtime, it is vital to ensure that commonly used spare parts are always available to replace any broken parts. Running machines with broken components can cause further mechanical damage, which can increase the cost of repairing it. You can normally source spare parts directly from the manufacturer or their representatives to ensure full compatibility with the machine – investing in new parts is an investment in your business’s future, and will save you costs in the long term.
3. Collect Regular Performance Data
Age-related faults and risks can be reduced by collecting daily data on the machinery to identify any issues quickly. If you notice a reduction in the effectiveness and efficiency of the machinery, you’ll need to flag the problem immediately. Any delays in reporting could result in the problem escalating and becoming more costly to your business.
4. Check Your Sensors
If any of the monitoring sensors connected to a machine are damaged, they should be replaced at the first opportunity. The sensors are critical for ensuring that the machine and its parts are functioning correctly, and without them a mistake could result in a hazardous issue.
5. Implement A Regular Maintenance Schedule
Setting up a regular maintenance plan for each asset can help detect and resolve problems before they escalate into breakdowns or faults. With proactive maintenance checks, businesses can identify the areas that need attention, fixing the machines that are fixable, and planning investments in upgrades and new machinery effectively to sustain a safe and efficient working environment.
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