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How can better maintenance lower food and beverage manufacturing costs?

It’s an expensive time to be a food and drink manufacturer. Raw material prices are up to 50% higher than 18 months ago, and labour shortages have cost companies £1.4 billion in the last year alone.  

Understandably, food manufacturing firms are looking for ways to lower the cost of production – and maintenance is an untapped opportunity.  

By automating asset management processes using the latest digital software, organisations can improve production reliability, product quality and regulatory compliance, all of which contribute to a stronger bottom line.  

Let’s look closer at how you can achieve cost-saving improvements within your maintenance operation.  

How does poor maintenance impact the cost of food manufacturing?  

Technology is opening the door to leaner production; there’s been a 35% increase in robotics and automation in food manufacturing since 2019.  

Yet, digital investment has focussed on the manufacturing process rather than other elements of company operations. Many food manufacturers are onboarding new equipment without the support network to maintain and manage it effectively.  

While maintenance operations are often low on the digital transformation priority list, a direct link exists between automating asset management and profitability. Poorly run maintenance operations can lead to:  

  • Equipment inefficiency and unreliability: low overall equipment efficiency (OEE) levels and frequent unplanned downtime to repair broken assets eat into the production schedule, affecting manufacturing output.
  • Health and safety problems: if you’re not on the ball with asset management, it can cause health and safety issues. For example, cross-contamination of ingredients or broken components ending up in your products. This can lead to product recalls, which are expensive and time-consuming (and can damage your reputation). 
  • Regulatory non-compliance: poorly maintained machinery can be subject to scrutiny during food industry audits, resulting in financial penalties if found non-compliant with sector standards.   

How can CMMS software reduce maintenance overheads?      

To make asset management more cost-effective, food and drink manufacturers are investing in a Computerised Maintenance Management System (CMMS) or Computer-Aided Facility Management (CAFM) software.  

CMMS technology can drive more profitable maintenance operations by enabling your team to introduce workflows that coordinate tasks and guide quicker responses.  

Many of the companies that have already invested in CMMS software are now benefitting from:  

  • Greater equipment reliability: all work requests and planned preventative maintenance tasks are channelled through a single piece of software, so you’ve got a complete view of maintenance activity.

Gaining full visibility over your scope of work will allow you to allocate work effectively and ensure jobs are tackled as quickly as possible, improving your OEE and asset reliability.

  • Data-driven decisions: digitising asset management will also help you capture valuable equipment information to make decisions based on facts rather than gut instinct. For example, you can create preventative maintenance schedules based on component or machinery lifespan data instead of running to fail.

Plus, CMMS software enables you to identify critical issues and prioritise those over less crucial tasks, reducing costly equipment downtime.

  • Better use of resources: not only are maintenance tasks no longer slipping through the cracks with CMMS technology; you’re not piling work onto one person while another gets an easy ride.

Instead, you can allocate jobs to each technician based on their availability, skills and location, and check their schedule to ensure any incomplete jobs are handed over to someone else at the end of the shift.

Managing resources through your CMMS will also help you maximise your current workforce’s value before you recruit new staff members – another significant cost saving. 

  • Improved compliance: in addition to capturing useful planning insights, documenting maintenance programmes through your CMMS will create a secure information trail, so you’re prepared for future audits, and they’re less disruptive to the business.

CMMS technology can also document maintenance processes to ensure your company complies with strict food safety and hygiene standards.  

  • Accurate inventory management: sometimes, expensive downtime is caused by a lack of spare parts rather than knowing a job needs to be done and having technicians available to complete the work.

CMMS software enables your company to maintain an accurate record of all components in stock, replenishing critical components when supplies run low. It also takes the guesswork out of inventory management, so you’re not overspending on equipment to ensure you have the right parts in stock.

How strong is the link between better maintenance and profitable manufacturing?   

The bottom line is that CMMS/CAFM solutions enable manufacturing companies to move from a reactive to a preventative maintenance model, which results in fewer equipment breakdowns, less unplanned downtime and better use of resources.  

This shift is critical to improving your financial performance, as a preventative maintenance model lengthens machinery lifespan and lowers the cost of managing manufacturing equipment.  

As a leading provider of CMMS/CAFM software to the food and beverage industry, Elecosoft knows first-hand the bottom line benefits of automating maintenance operations. For instance, Broxburn Bottlers uses our ShireSystem software to digitise its checklists, inspections and plans. The company now targets at least 40% planned maintenance in its engineers’ daily workload.  

Cambs Farm Growers has used ShireSystem to create a fully traceable asset history for all its equipment. The engineering team also manages inventories for all its spare parts and components within ShireSystem to enhance stock control and replenishment decisions.  

These are just two examples of food and beverage companies successfully using CMMS software to make product manufacturing more cost-effective. If you’re ready to digitally transform your maintenance operation, get in touch with a ShireSystem expert 

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