“Right chemicals are available in the market, but are costly and offered by only a few brands that are not available everywhere. The need-of-the-hour is developing cost effective solutions with equal focus on quality and then making it available everywhere,” says
Dr K. Rathnam, MD-Amul Dairy during an interaction with Suprita Anupam.
In food processing industry, especially which involves dairy products, even a small presence of abrasive contaminant such as dirt, dust, metal particles, hardened grease deposits or other foreign materials can not only pose danger to the food products but can also result into the mechanical damage of the plants leading to downtime. Cleaning and sanitation can not be put aside just as a backend process. The selection of the right type of detergent and its proper use (temperature and concentration) is of utmost importance for the upkeep of plant and machinery.
A wrong choice of cleaning equipment, tool or chemical for the cleaning & maintenance of the machineries, be it milk cans, milk cooling equipment, milk separator, butter churner, milk pumps, hot water/steam boilers or air compressors may lead to loss of money and profits due to
• License cancellation/disqualification if products found contaminated
• Unnecessary machinery shut downs
• Shortened machine life
• Machine inefficiency and
• Reduced productivity
Hence, a systematic and persistent procedure of regular servicing, record keeping and stocking of essential spare parts is necessary as a part of preventive maintenance.
Improving on hygiene
Today, if hygienic awareness is not being maintained then a number of factors such as people’s attitude, awareness, their disconnectivity with the environment and most importantly, lack of infrastructure are responsible for it.
I am saying infrastructure because cleaning & hygiene and environment are the inherent parameters while building an infrastructure. Take a look at old buildings; their design are totally unhygienic. It takes a lot of manpower, tools, chemicals and time to clean such buildings. These involve manual operation.
Now a days, new building designs are taking care of these.
Cleaning at Amul
Talking about Amul, cleaning has been mechanised but still there is some manual operation which leads to leakages and cleaning concerns. I feel more automation needs to be done.
The industry people have now realised that improving hygiene, operational efficiency and cleanliness quality can only be done through more and more mechanisation.
Hygiene levels cannot be met at once. Our objective is not to miss any compliance at any time. To ensure that there is continuous quality monitoring system that keeps checking every aspect. We have fully equipped mobile checking vans that can go to any site at any time and take the samples from there.
While quality control is totally being done by the company, when it comes to cleaning and maintenance, we have mixed approach. We are outsourcing cleaning and waste handling at some of our plants for example the plant at Virar, as a pilot project; gave us satisfying results.
If we talk about challenges, facility management remains the biggest. For the past 18 years, I have been with Amul; we have upgraded the facility services bringing the latest ride-on and walk behind scrubber dryers. But the challenge remains in using them properly to clean all the areas.
Undoubtedly new cleaning solutions have brought remarkable change, but certain chemical formulations must be improved. More portable cleaning equipment which can easily get into the pump & pipeline area and can clean the area effectively are needed. The existing small machines are not in accordance with our requirement.
Right chemicals are available but are too costly. It can’t be afforded by everybody on a daily basis. Also only few companies like Diversy are providing them hence these are not easily available. Earlier we were using Iodophor and Chlorine sanitisers which were very cost effective. So, basically we are looking for such solutions that are cost effective, easily available and impactful.