Development of the Safe Maintenance Concept as an Important Tool of the Quality Centered Maintenance
Quality Centered Maintenance (QCM) is representing an idea of active relation between maintenance on one side and quality on the other. Safe Maintenance is one of the tools of the QCM, which secures product safety and provides hazard control on an operational level in terms of controlled maintenance activities.
The Safe Maintenance should provide a safe, hazard-free maintenance as the result of implementing a “safe note” in daily maintenance activities. The Safe Maintenance raises the level of product safety, has a defined control of potential hazards and product contamination, and secures safe maintenance activities through standardized procedures.
The need for the relation between maintenance and quality is well known and it has been interpreted and established in different ways in the past. Modern quality standards, especially in the food industry, have more and more focused on maintenance as a very important factor in food safety and hazard control. This growing need should be modelled and implemented in maintenance activities in a form of QCM as one important step towards safer products for human consumption. Today we have many techniques in QA which provide a certain level of product safety such as quality standards and HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point). Most of them are related to systematic monitoring and the evaluation of manufacturing process aiming to fulfil customer’s expectations, but none of them have focused on maintenance activities, which are also an important and in some segments even critical factor in production. The Safe Maintenance has an important role as a tool in the Quality Centered Maintenance by providing hazard free maintenance which is a new concept in modern maintenance.
HACCP as the Base of the Safe Maintenance
Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) is used to describe an internationally recognised way of managing food safety and protecting consumers. It is a requirement of EU food hygiene legislation that applies to all food business operators except farmers and cultivators of foodstuffs. EU Regulation 852/2004 (Article 5) requires food business operators, including meat plant operators, implement and maintain hygiene procedures based on HACCP principles. This legislation replaced the Meat (HACCP) Regulations 2002.
The Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) system is internationally accepted as the system of choice for food safety management. It is a preventative approach to food safety based on the following seven principles:
- identify any hazards that must be prevented, eliminated or reduced
- identify the critical control points (CCPs) at the steps at which control is essential
- establish critical limits at CCPs
- establish procedures to monitor the CCPs
- establish corrective actions to be taken if a CCP is not under control
- establish procedures to verify whether the above procedures are working effectively
- establish documents and records to demonstrate the effective application of the above measures.
Figure 1. Final products on the production line.
The HACCP approach provides a systematic way of identifying food safety hazards and making sure that they are being controlled day-in, day-out. Conscientious implementation of HACCP principles by plant operators demonstrates their commitment to food safety, improves employee awareness of their role in protecting consumers and emphasises management’s responsibility for the safe production of meat .
High focus on the hygienic procedures is given by the business operators mentioned in EU Regulation on the hygiene of foodstuffs.
- Food business operators shall ensure that all stages of production, processing and distribution of food under their control satisfies the relevant hygiene requirements laid down in this Regulation .
EU Regulations emphasizes the plant (business) operators as the key factors in meat (food) production, and the maintenance technicians are neglected as the potential hazard in the production process. Conversely, the Safe Maintenance concept ensures safe maintenance activities according to the hygienic procedures and official regulations in food industry.
Figure 2. Relation between QCM, The Safe Maintenance and production.
Framework for Modelling the Safe Maintenance Concept
The Safe Maintenance concept as one of the tools of the Quality Centered Maintenance has focus on product safety and furthermore, all maintenance activities that could be considered as a potential hazard for product safety. The relation between QCM, The Safe Maintenance and production are shown in Figure 2.
Today, maintenance technicians have basic training in procedures such as:
- Entering and leaving the production facilities
- Cross walking between different hygienic areas
- Use of tools, chemicals and other equipment in food production facilities
- Maintenance of the production equipment
- Warning procedures during the maintenance activities
All of these procedures are standardised and provide a very high level of product safety and therefore will not be a subject of further research. According to the hygienic standards, all maintenance activities in the food industry could be grouped into two main groups
- Maintenance activities in a controlled environment and
- Maintenance activities in an uncontrolled environment.
The Safe Maintenance focuses in maintenance activities in uncontrolled environments because these environments provide the highest risk of product contamination. Maintenance activities in controlled environments are defined as all activities by the maintenance technicians outside of the production facilities. Usually, these activities are planned and carefully executed. The time between the end of the production and start of the equipment cleaning, disinfection and CIP (Clean-In-Place) could in some circumstances be considered a controlled environment. On the other hand, maintenance activities in uncontrolled environments are defined as all activities by the maintenance technicians in the production facilities where a product could be exposed for potential contamination.
Use of the hygienic areas in the food industry is one of the many standards today in modern production; it is up to the factory management itself to define the best practices in marking the different hygienic areas. The most common practice is colour marking, shown on the Figure 2.
The black zone represents the input level, processing of raw materials and the red zone represents the output level or packaging of the final product.
The Safe Maintenance concept makes a difference between the process equipment regardless of the hygienic zones. If we take a packaging line as an example, which often operates in the zone with the highest level of potential risk of product contamination, and analyse it through product exposure level, we could find out that not every segment of the packaging line is a critical factor and therefore it does not have to be treated with special measures. The usual steps in product packaging are:
- Packaging material for the base web (thermoformable film) is unwound from the reel
- It is heated in the forming die and formed into pockets/trays
- The formed pockets are loaded automatically
- The top web of packaging material (lid film) covers the filled pockets/ trays
- The air is evacuated from the sealing die and protective gas is added if required. The packs are sealed by applying heat and pressure
- The web of packs is cut across the machine direction initially
- Production of the individual packs has been completed after the longitudinal cutting operation.
- Packed product goes through metal detector and further to storage facilities.
Figure 3. Colour coding between different hygienic areas as a possible solution in zone differentiation of possible product contamination.
Step 1 represents the highest risk of product contamination; this risk decreases towards the final step and the packed product, which has a low risk of contamination and therefore will not be discussed further. The packaging line could be divided in units which process the product through the above-mentioned steps. A typical packaging line usually consists of:
- Heating unit
- Forming unit
- Covering unit
- Vacuum unit
- Gas unit
- Sealing unit
- Labelling unit
- Cutting unit
- Conveyer belt and
- Metal detector.
It is most important to identify the Critical Units (CU) on the production equipment considering maintenance activities. It is also crucial to determine what are the Critical Control Points (CCP’s) in the packaging process according to the HACCP plan.
The analysis, which is unique to the Quality Centered Maintenance and Safe Maintenance, is based in the HACCP and Quality Control that are the most important components in food safety management:
- Identify all maintenance activities in uncontrolled environments
- Identify Critical Units CU
- Identify Critical Control Points CCP’s which are included in the maintenance plan
- Establish procedures for on-site maintenance activities (repairs should be carried out in reversible steps which provides higher safety for the product)
- Standardize all maintenance activities on Critical Units
- Establish notifying procedures if CCP or CU has affected product safety
- Document all maintenance activities on Critical Units and Critical Control Points so that they are traceable
- Document the successful on-site maintenance activities confirmed by QA which resulted intact product safety.
The Safe Maintenance is one of the tools under development as a part of the recently presented QCM concept. It raises the level of the product safety, has a better control of potential hazards and throughout standardized procedures it provides safer maintenance activities. Use of the HACCP as the base for analysing the maintenance activities highlights CCP (Critical Control Points) and CU (Critical Units) as the key figures in defining potential hazards in maintenance that should result with the new active relation between Quality and maintenance. This article concentrates on products for human consumption, especially the food industry, which carries the highest risk and involves a large number of different quality standards and hygienic rules. The goal of QCM and the Safe Maintenance is to become one day a synonym for product safety, and above all, quality in modern maintenance.
»»Abouth the author: Damir has a degree of M.Sc in Maintenance technology. He is working at the moment as a maintenance manager, for Nortura, Norway’s leading supplier of meat and eggs. He as the author of the new concept in maintenance has held several lecturers throughout the Europe, on the Quality Centered Maintenance topic – which focuses on product safety aiming to be developed and used in every process relating to products for human consumption.
»»References ››  Ben-Daya M., Duffuaa S. O . 1995. Maintenance and quality: The Missing Link, Journal of Quality in Maintenance Engineering 1/1995, p. 20. ››  Taguchi G. 1981. O n-line Quality Control during Production (Tokyo: Japanese Standards Association). ››  Taguchi G., Elsayed E. A., Hsiang T. 1989. Quality Engineering in Production Systems (Tokyo: Asian Productivity Organization). ››  I shikawa K. 1985. W hat is Total Quality Control? The Japanese W ay, (Englewood Cliffs N.J.: Prentice-Hall, I NC.). ››  Tscuchiya S. 1991. Quality Maintenance (Cambridge MA: Productivity Press). ››  Ben-Daya M., Duffuaa S. O ., Raouf A., Knezevic J. and Ait-Kadi Editors 2009. Handbook of Maintenance Management and engineering (London: Springer). ››  Mihajlovic D. 2011. Quality Centered Maintenance; The QCM concept. MaintWorld 2/2011, p. 22 ››  http://www.food.gov.uk/foodindustry/ meat/haccpmeatplants/ ››  http://europa.eu/legislation_ summaries/food_safety/veterinary_ checks_and_food_hygiene/f84001_ en.htm ››  http://www.multivac.com/our-products/ thermoformers/compact-thermoformers. html.
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