repetitive and require little skill, and
automate these processes first.
Spraying down a conveyor is a perfect
example. Why make a worker stand over
the conveyor with a hose, spraying back
and forth for an extended period of time
when this work could easily be completed
more efficiently with a piece of technology?
By automating a menial task such as this,
you’ll free up a sanitation worker to do
more meaningful work while ensuring the
conveyor is cleaned consistently every time.
Cleaning fillers is another tedious job that
can take significant time. For example, we
recently helped a facility turn the process
of sanitizing a piece of filling equipment
into a 45-minute job. Previously, it took two
workers approximately three hours to do the
same task. As a result, savings in chemicals,
water and labor will add up quickly.
4. Improve Plant Safety
Certain pieces of equipment and
areas of your food processing plant may
present worker safety concerns. Keeping
people out of harm’s way and avoiding
the cost of a workplace injury are also
benefits of automating specific sanitation
procedures. Automating the cleaning and
sanitation of areas that may be considered
dangerous for your workers will mitigate
worker safety risks.
Two specific places where automation
can prove valuable for improving plant
safety are spiral freezers and screw
conveyors. Spiral freezers force workers to
clean in small spaces where there are risks
for slips and falls. Screw conveyors present
the possibility of getting entangled or
entrapped in the equipment during cleaning.
Customized, automated sanitation
equipment, however, will not only keep
crews away from precarious situations, it
can also be designed so that hard-to-reach
areas are cleaned effectively every time.
5. Save Valuable Resources
Beyond better management of time and
labor, automation can also make your plant
use energy, chemicals and water more
efficiently. The initial evaluation of sanitation
procedures in your facility should reveal
opportunities for savings on these resources.
A significant amount of water is used
in sanitation, and food processors stand to
experience significant savings by reducing
water use. Automation accomplishes this by
improving the efficiency of rinse cycles and
ensuring proper water pressure. While every
facility is different, some plants see water
savings as high as 50 percent following the
implementation of automated solutions.
Reducing water usage also means
reducing the amount of energy needed to
heat the water for sanitation. Furthermore,
less water used for cleaning means less
wastewater to treat.
In addition to helping you reduce the use
of resources while improving efficiency,
automation also provides much better
visibility into when, where and how those
resources are being used. That includes the
chemicals used in sanitation. Automated
sanitation equipment allows for custom-
blended chemistry and precise application,
and it also provides you with the data
needed to provide valuable insights and
Ultimately, you gain a clear
understanding of the amount of water and
chemistry needed and the amount of time
it should take to complete sanitation. That
means it will be much easier to plan for
Find The Right Solutions
For Your Facility
There’s no out-of-the box or one-size-
fits-all solution to automate the sanitation
process. The equipment and chemistry
needs to be customized for each facility’s
needs after evaluating its products and the
potential food safety risks, as well as the
design and layout inside the plant.
Automation is not a magic bullet, but it
does provide great value. By automating
certain tasks, you can improve safety
(of your employees and your products),
increase efficiency and reduce costs. While
there is certainly an up-front cost, you’ll
quickly see savings downstream from
more efficient use of labor and resources.
And, last but not least, improving your food
plant’s sanitation and cleaning processes
protects both the public from food safety
risks and your brand from irreparable
damage. You just have to be ready to take
that first step.
Bob Ogren is VP, Equipment Division,
at Birko Corporation.