Applying Lean to Sanitation

A recent FSIS notice allows for extended time between cleanups; lean sanitation can get you there and safely save you 33 percent in costs.

By Harold Tessman

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Figure 2. Process Flow Chart (Spaghetti Diagram)

Figure 2. Process Flow Chart (Spaghetti Diagram)

Figure 3. Simplified Sanitation Value Stream Map

Figure 3. Simplified Sanitation Value Stream Map

In a large room with plenty of open wall space, redraw the flow using easel pads or Post-It notes. Invite several individuals to review the process and ensure all the key activities are represented.

Preparing the flow diagrams and value stream maps will be an eye-opener and readily will point to the magnitude of waste in the process. Using the information in the diagram and VSM, complete the major elements of the project plan, assign task leaders and schedule completion dates for each step. Regular reviews with senior management and the entire organization should be included in the plan.

Phase II: Eliminate wasted movement, waiting and rework

Phase II applies three core lean tools to eliminate time wasted getting organized, delays incurred between procedures and rework due to inspection failures. The results will be positive and immediate. Beginning with the low-hanging fruit, the program seeks to attract followers and develop enthusiasm for the initiative.

There are 5S to remember: sort, store, scrub, standardize and sustain. The focus of 5S is on organization and housekeeping, not equipment sanitation. Every department and shift should participate in the 5S event.

Evaluate tools and materials to determine what, when, where and how frequently each is used. Discard obsolete items, and organize the remaining items for efficient retrieval and put-away. Heavy emphasis should be placed on improving operational sanitation practices, which will control microbial activity and reduce time wasted preparing the area at cleanup.

Point-of-use storage (POUS) should be introduced at this stage to eliminate the time wasted retrieving and storing tools and supplies. Cabinets fabricated of suitable materials can be stocked with materials where these items are regularly used. Simple kanban systems can be implemented to maintain inventories.

Installing clean-out-of-place (COP) tanks will eliminate wasted time moving equipment between the processing areas and the scullery. COP also positively impacts productivity by enabling cleaning personnel to perform parallel tasks while parts are being cleaned. Using baskets for smaller parts improves organization for rapid retrieval and reassembly.

As the implementation progresses, redeploy a portion of the productivity gains to a rigorous self-inspection program. Develop standard inspection procedures and provide cleaning personnel with the proper training and tools to perform inspections.

If a separate pre-op is conducted by Quality Assurance, it should be discontinued. Invest the resources to educate the workforce and instill discipline, conscientiousness and integrity to thoroughly review and correct deficiencies prior to final pre-op. You may consider using incentives to help with the transition of these responsibilities.

Phase III: Decrease cycle time and improve reliability

At this stage of the transformation, the focus shifts to improving cleaning procedures and equipment design for sanitation and maintainability. Whereas Phase II concentrated on “quick hits,” you should expect procedures and equipment modifications to go through several weeks, even months, of review and improvement. A full discussion of the tools and applications cannot be accomplished in this article so we will stick to the more salient features of these programs. Various resources are available for further learning.

As their names imply, the objective of rapid changeovers (RCO) and error-proofing are to substantially shorten the cycle time for cleanup and to institute practices that ensure the work is performed correctly. Sanitation is essentially a changeover during which a deep cleaning is conducted to remove microbial contamination.

The sanitation cycle can be broken down into five separate steps: preparation, tear-down, cleaning, set-up, and trials and adjustments. RCO distinguishes between external procedures (those which can be conducted while equipment is operating), internal procedures (those that require equipment to be shut down) and unnecessary procedures.

Unfortunately, there are no boilerplate solutions for RCO and error-proofing. Each step in the process must go through one or more kaizens to eliminate work, minimize internal procedures and error-proof the entire process.

Envision a NASCAR pit crew where both speed and quality are required. Precise coordination and efficacious design of equipment and tools enable the pit crew to accomplish tasks in a fraction of the time it would take you or me.

A few examples of RCO and error-proofing methods:

  • Develop checklists and graphics of assemblies
  • Install cams or single-turn fasteners for rapid loosening or tensioning
  • Replace bolts with three-point pins or clips
  • Design jigs and special tools for disassembly, cleaning and reassembly
  • Modify equipment to improve access for cleaning or seal off area from soils
  • Design exchangeable inserts versus dedicated parts
  • Eliminate adjustments and/or implement centerlining
  • Pre-flight with off-line trials and adjustments

Total productive maintenance (TPM) is integral to achieving rapid changeovers and error-proofing cleaning and assembly. TPM is a cross-functional approach to improving overall equipment effectiveness, defined as uptime, performance and quality.

TPM creates joint ownership for maintaining and operating equipment. Operators and sanitation assume some responsibility for equipment care while craft personnel have extended responsibility for simplifying operating procedures and design for cleaning.

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