October 13, 2015
What Happens to A Candy Facility During Halloween
Gearing up for any holiday, especially for reliability professionals who work in the specialty industry, can be a stressful time, both from a personal perspective and for your machines. Ramping up production means extra wear and tear, and for chocolate-makers around the globe, Halloween is the time to go full speed ahead.
There is something magical about Halloween. Whether it is the scary stories told by candlelight or the hordes of costumed children roaming the streets, it cannot be denied: All Hallows" Eve is special. And let's not forget about the candy, whole bucket-loads of candy. Fortunately for us, there is a whole army of facility managers and maintenance workers making sure that sugary sweetness gets churned out each year.
For those of us in the biz, it can be difficult to keep your equipment running during normal operation. Routine and preventative maintenance are, of course, pivotal to this process. When the busy season rolls around, however, extra steps are needed. Perhaps you need to lubricate parts more often or change the frequency with which you clean filters.
Before Halloween season starts is a good time to look at proactive maintenance. Schedule extra time to spot-check machinery and visually inspect equipment and grounds instead of just waiting for symptoms to arise. Using software (such as computerized maintenance management software, or a CMMS) that detects variations in production levels and energy usage spikes can also help you identify machines that are having difficulty. If you can catch a problem in its infancy, then you can prevent a shutdown or malfunction, critical during busy times! Carry on this method of maintenance during and after the holiday as well, as it is a great strategy no matter what time of year it is.
The period before Halloween season is also time to order any spare parts you may need to maintain equipment or use to replace damaged pieces should a malfunction occur. Make sure your maintenance software system or asset management application is up to date with the number and location of all of your spare parts so that you do not need to go rushing around trying to locate them if an emergency occurs.
Once the "season" officially kicks in, it is all about keeping your production levels at peak capacity. That, of course, means keeping equipment running smoothly. For that, you will need all hands on deck. Using a CMMS or similar reporting system, review your employee work schedules and maintenance routines. Look for any gaps in coverage and prepare for unexpected events, such as a team member getting sick or taking leave. Make sure you have enough staff on hand should a shutdown occur; you do not want to be shorthanded during the busiest time of year.
During this time, you will also want to look at your vendor information and make sure it is up to date. Do you have correct contact information for the manufacturers of your machines and spare parts? What about your warranty information? Is it up to date? Are any of your machines nearing their end of life cycle? If so, you may want to consider replacing them or, at the very least, putting them on a watch list.
Once the "spooky" season is over, don't be fooled into thinking the worst is behind you. While you may be going back to your old production levels, keep in mind that your equipment just took its yearly beating. Go back through and analyze each piece of equipment in your facility to make sure it is functioning at peak capacity, and give all of your machines a little extra maintenance TLC. After all, they certainly have earned it.
And while you are at it, give your staff well-deserved kudos because they have no doubt earned it, too. Maybe open up a box of chocolate yum-yums and celebrate the old-fashioned way: by pigging out on delicious treats!