Tip of the Week: Winter's Coming – What Should You Do?

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Winter’s coming - and the seasonal changes it brings may impact more than your facility exterior. In reality, weather conditions have plagued many facilities causing loss of product, income, and equipment downtime. It’s easy to forget about the changing conditions outside while food production is occurring inside, but any unexpected change could leave your facility vulnerable. Here are some tips to make sure you’re prepared for winter.

Plan for Weather Emergencies

  • Snow storms
  • Power outages
  • Employees missing work due to inclement weather
  • Ice storms

Winter conditions such as an ice storm or heavy snow storm can cause problems with getting to work for most of your staff. Staff shortages can create a real issue. Create a plan in advance to plan for personnel shortages.

Municipal power supply outages can also be a fundamental problem. Prepare by routinely checking the power generators at the facility that provide energy for production needs. Check generators in advance to cover all details:

  • Proper maintenance repair prior to the season
  • Overloading power
  • Battery failure
  • Low coolant levels
  • Air in fuel system

Outside Machinery/Transportation Services

If raw materials or product shipments are delayed due to weather conditions, how will that impact your production run?

Transportation plans for extreme winter weather conditions should be developed. Raw material stock can be increased for this season and an alternative supplier sourced to ensure that you have enough supply to keep up with your production demand in the event of a shipment delay.

If a transport is delayed due to weather conditions, how will you verify that temperature control was maintained throughout the delay?

When there are transportation delays, adequate temperature control needs to be provided. In most instances, this refers to refrigeration. In rare instances, in very cold climates, heating may be required to keep product at appropriate temperatures, between 33°F and 40°F. In either instance, best practice is to have a continuous temperature recording that can be reviewed at the time of receipt.

Outside Grounds

Pay attention to rodent devices during snow and ice weather conditions. Sometimes bait boxes or rodent trap entrances will be covered with snow or ice blocking entrance and making them ineffective.

Revise your service program for snow and ice removal on the outside grounds, especially around the exterior building. Develop joint measures with your pest contractor for maintaining proper bait boxes in the winter and revise the service frequency depending on weather conditions. Perhaps another type of outside device will be required.

As snow melts it may create standing water, which is a GMP violation. A drainage system should have enough capacity to collect it. If the standing water freezes over after the snow melts it could create an employee safety concern. Lots of snow and further melting may cause roofs leaks, which can be very complicated during the winter season. Your maintenance team should be prepared for a roof investigation and repair if necessary. The roof drainage system capacity should be sufficient for lots of water collecting.

Roads, yards, and parking areas are to be free of dust, standing water, and other potential contaminants. Adequate drainage should be provided for grounds, roofs, and other areas.

Weather impacts the entire food production process – plan in advance for adverse weather conditions so that you’re prepared if they affect your operation.                                                   

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