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Food Industry Role of mechanised cleaning

Cleaning efficacy is determined mainly by four factors – temperature, action, chemical and time. Mechanical cleaning comprises the principle of applying high action with low detergent, temperature and time. This in turn saves water, detergent and manpower leading to better, cleaning efficacy.

It is, at times difficult to clean ‘hard to reach areas’ like roof, cable trays, overhead piping and exhaust fans. Vertical equipment surfaces are equally difficult to clean, as applied detergent flows down and practically leaves zero contact time between detergent and surface soil. Especially in Indian scenario, growing consumer awareness and increasing regulatory control have made cleaning and hygiene maintenance a serious task for food industry. This has led to the use of ‘mechanised cleaning’ in the food industry. Better cleaning, saving of water and detergent, reduction in ETP load and reach to inaccessible areas are other benefits of mechanised cleaning.

Mechanised cleaning simply uses a few types of equipment, which are easy to handle, operator-friendly and have improved safety system for the operator.

Uses of mechanised cleaning in Indian Food Industry

It is a false belief that mechanised cleaning is costlier than manual cleaning. The returns of mechanised cleaning should be calculated keeping in mind the following factors:

  • Cost of machine
  • Consumable costs
  • Annual maintenance costs
  • Cost of running the machine
  • Operators’ salaries
  • Cost of manual cleaning in absence of mechanised cleaning
  • Total employees employed for similar mechanised cleaning and their salaries
  • Opportunity cost for savings in labour hours

Types of Equipment

Foam Cleaning Machine – These machines provide better access to inaccessible parts of a machine and provide reasonable contact time between detergent and vertical surfaces. It generates foam which stays at vertical surfaces for a reasonable time to provide reaction time between detergent and soil.

Vacuum Cleaners: Two kinds of machines – Dry vacuum and Wet & Dry vacuum machines – are used. Dry machines could be used for dust, powder, flour vacuuming, while Wet & Dry could be used for both dry and wet applications. These machines are available with different accessories like micron filter that do not discharge contaminated air. Industrial vacuum cleaners are also available that can be used 24×7.

Scrubbers: These machines are used for scrubbing floors with detergent followed by vacuuming to dry/clean the floor. These machines could also be used for polishing or buffing the floor. Various pads and brushes are available depending on the kind of floor to be cleaned.

Auto-Scrubbers: Auto-scrubbers are available in capacities ranging from push-behind to ride-on versions. Latest models in this range have CSD (Controlled Solution Dosing), which controls the dosing of water with the speed of the machine. This reduces water and detergent consumption by 33%. Both battery-operated and electrically operated versions are available in the market. Battery operated machines are considered safer and environment friendly. One needs to take into account the layout of equipment in the area during selection of this machine, as practical capacity may vary significantly with theoretical.

Sweepers: Exterior areas of a plant or an establishment could be cleaned using sweepers. These machines are designed to pick heavy dust, including small stones and pebbles. Push-behind versions are suitable for smaller areas and ride-on for bigger areas. These can be useful for plants having very big open area. Open area cleaning is very critical from both quality and aesthetic point of view.

High Pressure Jets: Sticky soils can be easily removed using high pressure jets. These jets normally deliver up to 200-bar pressure. Detergent can also be dosed in feed water to improve the efficacy of cleaning. It is effective in cleaning inaccessible areas like heights and tank interiors. It saves water and time. Hot water jets help remove soil. Generally these machines are diesel operated. The selection of these machines depends on washing power and the type of motor. Washing power is simply the multiplication of pressure and flow rate. High washing power cleans the application area more efficiently.

General Points for selecting a cleaning machine:

  • Total Area to be cleaned
  • Time required for cleaning
  • Type of electricity available (e.g.110V/220V, 50/60Hz)
  • Frequency of cleaning in a day (e.g. once a day, once every shift)
  • Power consumption
  • Water Requirement
  • Suitable detergent/disinfectant
  • Durability, Reliability
  • Ergonomics
  • Maintenance
  • Warranty
  • Service

Thus by implementing mechanised cleaning techniques the food industry can definitely benefit in terms of cost and labour.

Anil Kumawat
Key Account Manager, JohnsonDiversey India Pvt. Ltd


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