April 21, 2015
Can a CMMS Prevent Food Recalls?
Over the past few days, several stories have broken about food recalls. This morning while I was watching the news, I heard that Blue Bell had issued a massive recall on their ice cream products. As I frantically searched my freezer to see if I had any items listed for recall, I wondered to myself: could a CMMS have prevented this?
I thought about it more and more and realized that it definitely could have. The owner of Blue Bell states that they do not know how the listeria got into their facilities, however, I can’t help but think that some simple CMMS processes and procedures could have helped prevent this outbreak.
So, how can a properly used CMMS help prevent food recalls?
- Inventory Management. It’s always important to be on top of inventory management, but even more so when your inventory is perishable. Using ingredients that have been sitting on the shelf past their expiration date can be quite dangerous, and can definitely lead to recalls being issued. A CMMS can help track how much inventory is on hand and make sure the facility only has what it needs. Having excess inventory can lead to ingredients sitting on shelves longer.
- Preventative Maintenance Schedules. Expired inventory isn’t the only thing that can lead to a recall. Malfunctioning equipment can also be a cause for concern. For example, a refrigerator can be operating at a higher temperature than normal, causing some of the inventory to spoil. If a preventative maintenance check isn’t done, this issue may not be caught right away. Having a CMMS with preventative maintenance is crucial in the food industry.
- Work Flow Simplicity. If there is something wrong with a machine in the facility, it needs to be fixed right away and it needs to be done correctly. If a manager asks their employee to go out and fix the machine without a written work order, that leaves room for errors. Perhaps the worker will not fix the correct machine, or will not fix the entire problem, etc. Additionally, there can be instances when a worker reports a machine error to a supervisor, and it can be easily forgotten. With a CMMS, a work request can be written by the employee and sent for approval. Then a work order gets completed and sent to the worker. This system leaves little room for error. And, the work order can be written and printed, telling the employee exactly what they need to do to fix the machine. This leaves no room for confusion and will get the machine up and running correctly and quickly. Simplicity is key.
- Safety Procedures. A CMMS makes safety procedures really easy to follow. If there’s a specific warning/procedure for a piece of equipment, the CMMS can include that procedure right on the equipment’s file. That way, everyone that creates a work order, PM schedule, etc. will see exactly how that machine should be handled. Preventing workplace incidents can also lead to recall prevention.
There are many other ways a CMMS can help prevent food recalls, but those are the main ones. Having a CMMS system in place won’t guarantee there are no recalls, but if used properly it certainly will reduce the likelihood of them.