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Making the cleaning operation a piece of cake

28 April 2018

Suzanne Gill finds out how the use of dry steam is helping to reduce cleaning times, while also ensuring better hygiene and pest control, for one UK-based cake producer.

This food manufacturer produces a wide range of branded cake products, including cake bars, cake rolls and gateaux.

The ingredients used at the facility pose a headache for the hygiene team, which is tasked with ensuring that all the debris – chocolate, cream, batter, caramel and dough – is regularly removed from the production environment.

Three days of every week at the facility are dedicated to stripping down and cleaning the plant. “Once the engineers have done this the machinery the hygiene team is able to start this cleaning operation,” said the Hygiene manager at the plant. This is vital to ensure maximum uptime during production. If it is not regularly removed, ingredient debris can quickly clog up the machinery, resulting in unexpected production downtimes.

In recent years many hygiene teams have struggled to meet increasingly stringent hygiene requirements and the team at this site was no different. However, its fortunes changed when a new technical manager transferred to plant from another facility. “When we explained the problems we were encountering trying to clean caked on debris from cables, conduits and hard to reach areas on production equipment, he suggested that we trial dry steam cleaning machines, from OspreyDeepclean. Following the trial we quickly went on purchase six of the machines for use by the hygiene team,” said the hygiene manager.

“Traditionally, after brushing and wiping away all the loose debris we would have had to use small detail brushes to get into the nooks, crannies and even any exposed screw threads on production equipment, to ensure they are debris free and clean. One member of the team could spend eight hours fine detail cleaning a single machine, with still no guarantee that it was 100% clean.

“Following some initial training about how to safely operate the dry steam cleaners and the correct PPE, the hygiene team has found the system be very easy to use,” continued the hygiene manager. However, he warns that the use of such equipment does not negate the need for hygiene staff to have a good understanding of how to properly clean food production areas and users still need to know what clean looks like. “With the right people, trained to use the equipment safely and who understand the cleaning process and have attention to detail, the use of a dry steam cleaner does offer both hygiene and time-savings benefits,” he said. “As a secondary stage of our cleaning regime, it is saving us huge amounts of time,” he confirmed. “It simply evaporates debris on contact, leaving surfaces clean and sterile in much less time, and without the need to use any harsh chemicals.”

OspreyDeepclean has worked with a variety of food producers on dry steam cleaning and sanitation solutions in both high-care and low-care areas and for ambient dried foods. The solution, which has been ruggedised for use in industrial applications, super heats conventional steam to 180°C at which point any remaining water is vapourised, making the steam ‘dry’, with a water content of less than 6%. This means that it can clean, sanitise and deodorise most surfaces without leaving behind moisture residues and without the need for detergents.

Dry steam can also offer pest control benefits, keeping levels of stored product insects (SPIs) to a minimum. Regular use of dry steam, for example, will kill flour moth eggs and larvae, interrupting the reproduction cycle of this pest, without the need for fogging or chemical sprays.

“Because the OspreyDeepclean machines come with such a wide variety of attachments they provide us with a really versatile cleaning tool. Different detail cleaning nozzles allow the machines to be used on most surfaces. There is no downside to the use of this tool,” continued the hygiene manager. “Our pest control company regularly audits the plant for moth activity and since we started using dry steam we have seen a huge reduction in activity, which demonstrates that it also works as a very useful pest control tool. I believe that all hygiene managers in the food industry should consider the use of dry steam as an element of their cleaning regimes.”

Following an initial manual clean to remove the worst of the debris the hygiene team uses the dry steam cleaners to detail clean equipment and machinery as well as cables and conduits. Because the steam is dry there is very little water residue so it can be safely used on conveyor belts, bearings, chains, motors and electrics in the production area, where the equipment has already been waterproofed and sealed to make it suitable for use in the food industry applications. The end nozzles have a vacuum function as well as a blower function so can clean and suck away debris or dirty water in a single operation. This leaves surfaces sterile without the use of any chemicals and requires very little water.


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