Food & Beverage Preventive Maintenance Programs: Getting Started

For food and beverage manufacturers, a proactive approach to maintaining equipment and facilities does more than promote operational efficiency. Ensuring all assets meet safety and hygiene standards helps keep consumers safe while protecting your business from reputational damage and excess expenses. 

More than 50% of organizations still operate reactively at least half the time. Faced with emerging technology, evolving customer expectations, and other daily challenges, maintenance teams across the food and beverage industry have an opportunity and an obligation to grow more preventive.

Key components of a food and beverage preventive maintenance strategy

Though the size and structure of maintenance departments vary, all quality PM programs rely on a number of the same components.  

  • Training programs: You’ll need a great team to execute on your preventive maintenance strategy and those skilled professionals need a foundation of great training. Building dynamic training programs based on genuine employee feedback will ensure veteran and novice employees alike have everything they need to succeed.  
  • Planned and scheduled maintenance tasks: Plans and schedules for executing maintenance tasks provide the basis for comprehensive programs. A plan outlines the ‘who’ and ‘what’ of maintenance work. They assign roles and outline processes for carrying out tasks. Schedules determine when this work will take place. 
  • Computerized maintenance management systems (CMMS): With suites of features for managing work orders, overseeing asset portfolios, and tracking maintenance’s performance, CMMS platforms are essential for both simplifying the department’s day-to-day operations and evolving its role over time. 
  • Condition monitoring solutions: More advanced organizations may leverage additional tools to assess equipment performance and schedule just-on-time maintenance. Closely monitoring the condition of an asset with techniques like vibration analysis can point to subtle signs of trouble and discourage either under- or over-maintenance. 

The benefits of preventive maintenance for food and beverage companies

  • More reliable equipment: Taking a more proactive approach to upkeep and inspections keeps equipment running more effectively for a longer period. 
  • Reduced parts and labor costs: Improvements to inventory management and resource allocation can lead to significant savings on parts and labor over time. Better schedules will mean less overtime maintenance work, smarter ordering, and a more organized inventory of spare parts. 
  • Higher quality products: When you proactively maintain equipment and address risk factors ahead of time, you’ll produce a higher quantity of defect-free products. You’ll avoid costly and reputation-damaging recalls and consistently satisfy your customers. 

The costs and consequences of reactive maintenance

While sticking with legacy processes may seem simpler and cheaper, insufficiently proactive maintenance leads to short- and long-term costs that you may not be able to afford. Imagine, for example, a breakdown that leads to significant downtime. Some estimates suggest the cost of just an hour of downtime can total $30,000. Failing to spot signs of contamination or other hazards can lead to product recalls that put a stop to operations and ultimately cost much more. Quality Assurance Magazine suggests that the combined direct and indirect costs of a product recall will typically reach more than $1.5 million. 

6 steps for launching a PM program in the food and beverage industry

Step 1: Perform a criticality analysis

Preventive and predictive maintenance offer plenty of benefits, but they aren’t always the most cost-effective approach for specific assets. Some assets simply aren’t important or costly enough to justify taking a strategic and proactive approach to their upkeep. If you put equal emphasis on each asset and component across your portfolio, you’ll only exhaust your resources with over-maintenance. You certainly sh. Instead, you should stagger the rollout of your program to focus first on the assets you can’t operate without.

You can determine which assets warrant strategic attention with a criticality assessment. This exercise is beneficial for organizations that are transitioning away from purely reactive maintenance for the first time. Learn more about conducting these assessments in our detailed guide. 

Step 2: Build your assets into your program

Next, begin entering your equipment into your new systems. Start with those assets that you cannot allow to fail. Make sure to collect all the relevant information a technician would need to efficiently and effectively service this equipment. Take note of each asset’s current condition so you’ve got a clear sense of what your ‘before’ state looks like. That way you’ll tell a more compelling story when it’s time to report on your successes. As you grow accustomed to your new preventive processes, you can begin to add additional assets to the program. 

Step 3: Define maintenance tasks and triggers

Begin documenting all the maintenance activities you know your team will need to carry out regularly and define the triggers that will inspire them to take certain actions. You might define these triggers based on factors related to time, usage, or the condition of the asset in question.  

You can reference several sources for support while you define maintenance task triggers, including: 

  • OEM recommendations: Insights directly from the organization that produced your equipment may be your best resource as you test our preventive maintenance strategies for the first time. Original equipment manufacturers can supply you with essential blueprints, manuals, and other resources to support your program and guide your team. 
  • Maintenance records: If you’re already in the habit of keeping detailed records of equipment maintenance, you’ll have an easier time building a plan and schedule for preventive maintenance. If not, it’s the perfect time to start holding onto this information. 
  • In-house best practices: Make sure to catalog these best practices and preferred workflows for posterity. You don’t want knowledge leaving the company alongside retiring team members. 

Step 4: Write your preventive maintenance checklists

Now, it’s time to start building checklists to guide your operators and technicians through all the maintenance activities you’ve identified. Some essential details for your PM checklists include: 

  • Safety protocols
  • Contact information for all relevant personnel
  • Step-by-step instructions for completing tasks
  • Pictures and diagrams to help guide technicians 

Step 5: Test your new procedures for PM tasks

Finally, put your new maintenance checklists to the test. You might opt for a pilot program, focusing on a small number of highly critical assets. Whatever the scope of your new strategy, get out on the floor and see how your team is doing. Are your checklists intuitive? Are team members still employing legacy techniques? These early reviews will enable you to fine-tune your approach to PM as you add more assets to your program. 

Step 6: Train your team, launch your program, and fine-tune your strategy

No good preventive maintenance program is static. Your approach should evolve over time alongside your organization, your team, and your industry. Pay particular attention to feedback from key stakeholders within maintenance and across your organization. Addressing their concerns and helping them see the value of a more preventive approach will improve the quality of your program and contribute to executive buy-in. 

Once you’ve collected enough performance data, you can begin setting goals and KPIs for your program. Track your progress against these to make the case for additional investment in maintenance and drive more strategic decision-making. 

The role of a CMMS

Remember, a CMMS can streamline this full process and minimize the time you spend searching for misplaced documents. You’ll also gain new insights into asset health, technician performance, department spending, and more.

Learn more about food safety

Download our eBook to learn more about the role of preventive maintenance in keeping food and beverage manufacturing facilities safe, efficient, and productive. 

Transforming food and beverage maintenance: customer success stories

Check out these customer testimonials from organizations in the food and beverage sector who’ve seen how Limble makes it simpler to see the benefits of more proactive maintenance. 

Preferred Popcorn

Taking 95% of its maintenance operations mobile with Limble’s app has empowered Preferred Popcorn to significantly reduce downtime while realizing consistent savings. 

Allagash Brewing

For an award-winning brewery, an award-winning CMMS was the only answer for addressing persistent challenges. Since implementing Limble, Allagash has decreased unplanned work orders by more than 40% and built a best-in-class team.

Webinar: kick-starting PM in food and beverage

Preferred Popcorn’s former Maintenance Director, Matt Burtz, joined us to outline the steps for kicking off a preventive maintenance program in a webinar sponsored by Food Safety Magazine. Check out the discussion for more details on the process outlined above as well as insights on the role Limble played in reducing costs and improving uptime for the organization. 

Check out the full recording of our webinar on PM in the food and beverage industry, sponsored by Food Safety Magazine

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