There are many challenges facing bakeries when it comes to maintaining the smooth running of processing machinery. From equipment that requires regular washdowns to machines operating at high speeds, a regular maintenance schedule will ensure you meet strict hygiene and food safety regulations as well as reduce unplanned downtime.
With so much to consider, we take a look at what you should consider when looking at the products you choose to lubricate the machinery on your factory floor.
The right product for the job
Using food-grade lubricants is now commonplace in bakeries to reduce contamination risk. But with so many products on the market, how do you choose the ones that are right for your site?
The first step is to look for NSF registration. All registered lubricants must display the logo, the relevant category code(s) for which they are registered and the NSF registration number.
There are a few NSF categories for maintenance products, which indicate where and how they can be used in food and beverage production facilities. Different machinery and production environments have different maintenance requirements, and it isn’t as simple as selecting any NSF-certified product and assuming it will be suitable for use in your factory.
It’s important to know what different NSF classification codes mean, and where and how different food-grade products can be used. For example, is the equipment operating in an area where lubricants must be safe for incidental food contact? If so, you will need to look for NSF H1 lubricants. If you are running maintenance on machine parts where there is proof that there will be no incidental contact, then an NSF H2 product may well suffice. Additionally, it’s important to ensure that the lubricant you choose complies with ISO 21469 standards for food-grade lubricants.
With the term ‘food-grade’ widely used, it’s also important to select the right products for your processing facility, because if the product is not optimised for your machinery or it encounters food, it could lead to a product recall.
The food-grade lubricants market has become increasingly sophisticated, with products designed for specific sectors and machinery.
For example, in the bakery industry, you may well have chains that must withstand high temperatures, along with low temperature conveyors and slicers. Each operates in different conditions and has different lubrication requirements. For example, actively seeking out products for high washdown areas that have been specifically designed to protect against contamination-related damage will help extend equipment life.
Perfect your technique
One of the biggest impacts on overall production efficiency comes from ensuring that your maintenance team is using products effectively.
Technique is key. We talk regularly to customers about lubricant application techniques, and the advice we share most often is that the recommended amount is the correct amount. Too much or too little lubricant can lead to equipment breakdown or contamination issues.
Investing time in your team to make sure they are skilled and confident in the application of maintenance lubricants will pay dividends in the long run. Getting it right means that you won’t overspend because of product overuse and that your equipment will remain at peak performance with the right amount of product applied at the right intervals. Some lubricant manufacturers will provide training to help upskill maintenance teams, and it is worth investing to take their skills and capabilities to the next level.
If you’re in the food industry, it’s important to recognise the specific requirements of each operational and maintenance process in your factory. If you are in any doubt about which products are most suitable, or you would like to know more about the training we can offer, contact a member of the ROCOL team who can help guide you.