MRO Q&A: Any Input for Forktruck, Monitor and Keyboard Sanitation/Sterilization?

MRO Q&A is a Food Processing series addressing maintenance, repair and operational issues in food plants.

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Q.  I can't find any information for sanitizing/washdown of a forktruck and proper procedures for monitors and keyboards sanitizing. We are working on a SSOP for our plant. Do you have any input for sanitation/sterilization?

ITAL: We farmed this question out to two trusted vendors.

The first response is from Lou Micheletto, NACCO Materials Handling Group (www.nmhg.com) warehouse product manager:
A. Each area of a lift truck has its own procedure of cleaning. The primary method of cleaning is some form of pressure washing, although it is important to note that we do not promote high-pressure direct spraying of any of the critical components. NMHG has a biodegradable solution made specifically for food applications. In applications that require bacteria-free wheels, the truck is driven through a solution.

Some applications require in the pre-pack area for the operator to touch the control handles. Control handles are difficult to seal so applications will add a removable plastic or vinyl cover to the handle. During washdown, the cover is either removed or replaced with a clean cover or sprayed with a pressure washer.

The second response is from Coley Mitchell, sales director for noax Technologies (www.noax.com/en):
A. The industrial computer/ keyboard combination selected for your forklift application must be rugged enough to withstand heavy wear and tear, strong shock and vibration, dust, water and even chemicals.

In our experience, the use of an external keyboard on a forklift computer is becoming more rare – most of our customers want to limit the amount of hardware their users are responsible for. The less hardware you use, the less points of failure.

As touchscreen PCs become more popular, most software companies are focused on creating applications that require as little user input as possible. Having to input a lot of data via a keyboard takes time, and can sometimes lead to costly errors

As for sanitation practices, it really depends on the type of equipment you have. If your PC is IP65 rated or better (strongly recommended!) then a soft cloth and water is a great way to keep things clean. Check with your manufacturer before you use cleaning agents or chemicals, as sometimes they can damage the touchscreen.

Among IP65 keyboards: If your environment is extremely dirty, a film keyboard (one smooth surface with slightly raised keys) is the best option and will allow for the easiest cleaning. If your users need to input a lot of data and your environment is not that dirty, the long-stroke keyboard (like a regular keyboard but with a rubber film under the keys that keeps water/dust out)is a good option. Again, a soft rag and water should work on both, and typically some light cleaning agents should be fine.

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