Joe Stout portraitCHICAGO — It’s that time when most controllers and leadership teams scramble to collect data and negotiate a spending budget for next year. This is also the opportunity for sanitation and quality professionals to plan for available hours and a budget, both capital and expense. This should include the creation of a 52-week work plan to capture the cleaning activities needed during key line and plant downtime periods, including periodic equipment cleaning (PEC) and periodic infrastructure cleaning (PIC). Holidays like Memorial Day, the Fourth of July and Labor Day are the perfect times to make the plant shine. Another activity, especially in the summer months, is the need to fog with an insecticide like Pyrethrum if needed to reduce insect populations. The frequency is consistent with the target insect’s life cycle to interrupt it.

During my first position as a plant sanitation manager, it was my responsibility to plan facility fumigations using methyl bromide gas. This required a two- to three-day shutdown of the entire production facility. One particular year I was too late to get the fumigation on the calendar. As a result, insects got a free pass. There were more sightings of insects and their trails in the facility, and complaints ticked up. After that experience, I realized the importance of timely planning. It’s nice when projects run smoothly, which typically only happens with good planning.

With this lesson under my belt, I went into the next year with the knowledge and tools to be successful. In addition to cleaning activities, we planned three fumigations for the year and were able to stick with the schedule for better results. Now with methyl bromide out of favor, the groundwork is the same, but instead of fumigation we rely on effective hygienic design, effective cleaning and occasional fogging treatments. These all take more time, manpower and downtime to get the work done.

Dry facilities are challenged with periodic cleaning activities during the peak season. K.P.I. results for PIC and PEC are lower during peak production because when lines operate, infrastructure and equipment cleaning, in most cases, is difficult at best. Is there a better way to prepare for this? Yes! One way is assessing the master sanitation schedule (M.S.S.) ensure all tasks are identified with accurate frequencies. Also, evaluate non-critical cleaning tasks that can help move tasks to slower non-peak production months. This helps balance workflow with the time available for cleaning.

Managing sanitation planning is an important component of creating a sanitary environment while minimizing downtime when the production lines are needed to meet customer demands. Get a manageable annual budget and have time scheduled to keep the facilities sanitary for production. With proper planning, performance will be optimized, the facility and equipment will remain clean, and operations will be steady and smooth.