Q:How do we handle/document seasonal equipment on our master cleaning schedule? Some of our equipment can go several months without being used.
This is a great question! It is vital to ensure unused equipment is maintained to prevent possible pest or microbiological development. The first thing to consider is whether the equipment is permanently mounted in the active production area or is portable and taken to an equipment storage/warehouse area when not in use.
Equipment in Storage
A master cleaning schedule (MCS) should include an established cleaning frequency for equipment that is in use; let’s say this is weekly. If the equipment is moved to storage, add a row on the MCS below the weekly row that lists the inspection/cleaning frequency: as needed. Assuming the equipment is cleaned before it is put in storage, an inspection could be conducted monthly to monitor for general cleanliness, such as lack of dust, cobwebs, etc. Then cleaning could be done as necessary, based on the inspection. The purpose of listing two rows for one piece of equipment is to allow accountability for the equipment for the entire year, whether it is in use or in storage.
Equipment in Production Area
For equipment that is permanently mounted in the production area, MCS documentation can be handled like the first scenario—with one major difference: equipment in the production area still will be exposed to production dust, water, and elements. If the equipment is cleaned weekly when in use, it probably would be best to evaluate it each week when off-use for a period of time to determine how much dust, dirt, or moisture is accumulating on the unused equipment. The off-use frequency will vary for every facility. Some companies may need to continue with a weekly cleaning schedule, while others may be able to reduce the frequency to bi-weekly or even monthly. The MCS chart (below) provides an example.
It is vital to ensure that all equipment is included on the MCS, whether it is in use or in storage. Inspections have revealed significant issues, such as pest infestations, in equipment that is not in use and not maintained as part of the MCS.
Accountability and Time Management
Tracking unused equipment also allows for accountability and time management. Every line on the MCS should have an estimated time of completion for the task. By tracking unused equipment, assigning a frequency, and estimating time, you can better budget and allocate resources. This can be very beneficial in justifying a specific number of people hours for the MCS for an entire year