Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Cleaning Schedules for the Bottling Plant

It is important to create a cleaning schedule for your bottling plant.  This may be mapped out in a simple chart, shown in the picture below.  A hygiene manual is essential.  This will have detailed cleaning and hygiene programmes for each area of the plant.  These should be easy to follow and readily understood by new operators.  Bottling plant mangers should check regularly that the schedule is being followed.  All too often, the schedule will "drift" into a shortened version.

Apart from possible hygiene problems, a "drift" of cleaning schedule can be confusing to suppliers.  I have read cleaning schedules from customers and subsequently recommended products based on the schedule.  I then have been surprised when the operators said that the products did not work.  On paying a visit to find out why, and observing the operators working, it became clear that the operators were using a different schedule which actually warranted using the product in a completely different way.

The bottled water industry is not unique in this, in a manufacturing company, the plant operators would not follow manufacturing instructions on a computer screen, they preferred to write the instructions on the wall with a felt pen, their reasoning being that computers were notoriously unreliable.

Obviously, if operators come up with new ideas that improve the cleaning schedule, then their ideas should be adopted and the cleaning schedule changed.

It goes without saying that discrepancies between written schedules and actual practice can cause problems during an audit, if the auditor happens to spot it.


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