Preventative maintenance is not just a matter of common sense and HACCP compliance when looking at your food production line. Equipment that is looked after regularly ensures not only food safety, but a facility that runs smoothly, with dependable machines that enhance production and last longer — all of which mean more profits.

It’s one of the few areas of commissary upkeep that provides peace of mind that can actually also be documented, and this fact should be taken advantage of. A well-documented plan of preventative maintenance can help a company save money both in the immediate and the future — making note of any failings or upkeep a piece of equipment may have will inevitably aid in the selection of future purchases and replacements.

First, an inventory of all equipment should be taken, including a machine’s serial number, description, and suggested maintenance schedule. For the maintenance schedule, consider the importance of each particular machine and consider what may happen to the entire production line should it fail.

The schedule should include instructions on how to do the maintenance as well as space to show that it was done on a certain date by a certain employee, and should be double-checked by a supervisor. Everyone involved with a given part of a production line should be trained on the organization of the maintenance inventory, schedules and procedures, and it should be documented every time that any action needs to be taken on a particular piece of equipment.

Procedures to consider in your maintenance inventory include lubrication, part replacement, required tools, how to conduct both temporary and emergency repairs, and how often the work should be looked over again by a supervisor to verify that it’s being done properly. Much of this information can be found in any given machine’s manual, but manuals are dense and difficult to flip through for immediate information when it’s needed, which makes having a maintenance schedule with that key information all the more important.

Besides an equipment inventory, a parts and a tool inventory should be kept as well, to ensure that in any given emergency situation, it’s known exactly where those spare parts and tools can be found, as well as who had them last, when they needed them, and what they were needed for. Because a backup part for a piece of equipment can’t be on hand for every possible situation, inclusion of those parts must be made with the same kind of discretion applied to the maintenance schedule:  the importance of each piece must be determined, both to the machine’s function and considering what may happen to the entire production line should that one piece fail.