Maintenance management plays an integral part the successful operation of any facility, ensuring product quality and maximizing productivity. Downtime for a food packaging line, for example, leads to thousands of dollars of lost revenue per hour. But Maintenance Management is also critical for any food safety plan; malfunctioning equipment or improper procedures can lead to widespread recalls that cost tens of millions of dollars and even cause deadly outbreaks.
The Icicle food manufacturing software was originally released as a food safety application, but by looking at the global operations of food facilities, we were able to design a Maintenance Management module (enhanced with the introduction of a series of new features beginning in April 2017) that not only responded to the requests of excited users who finally found a user-friendly application and wanted it to do more, but also integrated complex features like traceability, inventory control, and more – all in a single, unified digital system.
How Does Icicle Work for Maintenance Management?
It is challenging to get the right people, parts, and materials to the right place at the right time. Icicle’s Maintenance Management infrastructure allows users to create pre-defined maintenance templates in advance, and then use those templates to guide workers through all the steps they should follow to comply with HARPC regulations and FSMA requirements.
Schedule Maintenance in Advance
Every facility has regular maintenance tasks such as daily, weekly, or monthly inspections, calibrations. and verifications. Managers can assign recurring tasks that automatically appear on each individual’s task list, ensuing that work gets done on time. With the ability to designate teams, managers are able to allocate tasks to their employees according to availability and specific job requirements, creating a queued, first-come-first-served system of task assignment.
Create Work Requests & Review
While scheduled maintenance is part of any facility’s day-to-day operations, unplanned problems do occur. Work Requests alert maintenance that there’s a problem. Maintenance managers review work requests and choose which requests to promote to a Work Order, which can be quickly created using predefined templates. They can then assign specific individuals to various tasks and review the parts and materials inventory (lubricants, etc.).
Improve Productivity & Efficiency
Icicle allows users to set the operational status of each machine (online, scheduled offline, unscheduled offline). This function collects analytics for maintenance and improves machinery and team efficiency, which avoids lost revenue and downtime by preventing failures. Icicle displays this information as user-friendly KPIs that differentiate between scheduled and unscheduled outages. If efficiency is displayed as too low, users can then undertake root cause analyses to determine causes and determine preventative measures (for example, employee retraining or increased maintenance frequencies).
Since Icicle is fully integrated with inventory control as well, users can also track the location of materials and parts and proactively prevent stock from falling below acceptable levels.
Manage a Recall
Perhaps the most innovative integration of maintenance management with food safety relates to recalls. The unfortunate reality is that even the best plans sometimes fail. Should a customer contact your company because they found a shard of metal in your product, for example, Icicle is used to create an incident report and conduct root cause analysis. This process connects the complaint with specific production runs so each step in the production of a specific food product can be analyzed and problems corrected. As part of the overall integrated approach to managing a recalls, managers are then able to assign work orders to their maintenance team directly to realize corrective actions.
Inventory Control & Traceability Had to Come First
As Richard Stier writes in Food Safety Magazine, “the best way to begin developing a preventive maintenance program is to take inventory.” Maintenance Management is an invaluable feature for Icicle’s users, but it didn’t come out of nowhere. In addition to user requests, Maintenance Management was a natural outgrowth of two features that preceded it: Inventory Control and Enhanced Traceability. Just as Inventory Control tracks products and consumption across locations through lot codes, Enhanced Traceability enables users to identify, with maximum precision, specific lots that may be subject to recall, generate and store all the relevant documentation (available at any time), and launch corrective actions when needed. With Maintenance Management, Icicle can leverage maintenance to support incident management, customer complaints, and more.
For companies scaling up or building new facilities, using an integrated system protects revenue and brings down costs significantly by improving operational efficiency while eliminating the need for multiple, disparate, and unfriendly solutions. Now that Maintenance Management has been added to the ever-growing list of comprehensive features, Icicle continues to stand out as the smart solution for food manufacturing companies.