A guide to factory cleaning and why it is important
Cleanliness is important in any workplace – so it is essential manufacturers make factory cleaning a fundamental part of their daily operation. However, having the best hygiene in your plant requires more than the occasional clean: you need to set up a culture of cleanliness within your business that allows for time to carry out cleaning and understanding best hygiene practice.
Ensuring the cleanliness of your factory takes time and effort, but doing so will benefit your business, your employees and your customers. Our guide covers everything you need to know about factory cleaning, including what processes you should undertake and why it’s so important.
Why factory cleaning is essential
There are many reasons why having a high level of cleanliness in your factory is important. We’ve listed them below so you can see why investing in effective cleaning procedures is so worthwhile for your business.
It allows you to meet industry regulations
Manufacturing businesses are subject to variety of regulations designed to keep employees and customers safe. There are a number of laws in place to encourage employers to undertake specific practices to meet health and safety standards – and to avoid the consequences of non-compliance in the forms of fines and court cases.
This is particularly crucial for food processors, who must meet strict hygiene rules to ensure consumer safety and satisfaction.
Putting good hygiene practice in place across your factory and wider business can help you to ensure safety is at a high level, meaning you consistently meet regulations. Doing so will mean you avoid costly and potentially reputation-ruining repercussions, as well as minimising the risk to your workforce.
It increases your factory productivity
A clean factory is a factory that allows your workforce to do their job properly. The goal of any company should be to have a factory that is well-organised, easy to use and promotes a good working environment. Workers should be able to find what they need easily and quickly, so that they are able to do their job without issue.
If your factory is not effectively tidied, you risk workers being unable to find the materials they need – leading to increased human error – which in turn leads to increased waste and costs – and slower turnarounds in production. This sort of environment is also likely to be more stressful to your staff, potentially creating disharmony in the workplace.
Effective factory cleanliness allows your staff to do what they need to, in the right way and in a shorter timeframe. Furthermore, as cleanliness improves health and safety, you can reduce time lost due to staff injury or absence. This all makes for increased productivity across your production, so you can keep costs low and morale high.
It’s better for your customers
While rules are in place to protect your workforce, there are also regulations in place for your customers. These hygiene regulations need to be met when it comes to the product you are making, so that your consumers can be assured they are buying safely.
In this regard, good factory hygiene might mean storing your materials properly and ensuring all machines are clean, so that the final product can be delivered to the consumer without any risk of contamination or harm to them. Doing otherwise might cause you to lose customers, which is never ideal for any business.
Ensuring excellent hygiene will also drive the quality of your output, allowing you to better meet customer expectations and keep them satisfied. With changing consumer demands following the coronavirus pandemic and a focus on cleanliness, this is key in the current climate.
By employing good factory cleaning practices, you can benefit your customers and continue to operate as a trusted business.
It keeps your production line running effectively
Efficient factory cleaning should include the regular cleaning of your production line in its entirety: the machines within it and the materials going through it. A clean production line should eliminate the risk of malfunction and breaks within the line, so you can allow you production to continue smoothly.
Try to tie in your cleaning with regular services of the production line. A maintenance service contract will include frequent checks of your production line to make sure everything is working at optimum levels. As part of this, your maintenance engineer will be able to spot any potential errors – including those related to your factory cleanliness – and point these out to you. This means it’s worth having these contracts in place, so that you can keep production on track alongside your regular cleaning procedures.
Factory cleaning: best practice
Now you know the benefits of factory cleaning, it’s important to educate yourself and your workforce on how to do it effectively. It’s worth noting that a factory clean shouldn’t be a one-time thing: instead, it must become a regular part of your daily operation, and you should invest in it accordingly.
Get the best equipment
The first step to your cleaning regime is getting the right equipment. The equipment you need will depend on the set up of your factory and production line. In some cases, your machinery manufacturer may be able to recommend the best products, and it is worth following their advice if this is the case.
Invest in the best equipment and products for your factory, as this is likely to make any cleaning you do undertake more effective. Make sure that you have enough supply so that everyone who needs to access your equipment can do so, when they need it, so that there are no barriers to the cleaning process.
Schedule in cleaning time
As previously mentioned, an effective hygiene culture should include regular cleaning. With this in mind, make sure to schedule out regular times for factory cleaning and encourage staff to stick to it. This could be a certain time slot each day or week, depending on what is required for your business.
Once this time is scheduled in, make sure your workforce is aware. If certain areas need to be empty for cleaning, announce this clearly so staff know to vacate those areas at the right time. You may also wish to introduce a cleaning logbook so that these sessions can be recorded, creating an easy audit trail for your factory hygiene.
In some cases, you may be able to find external companies willing to conduct regular cleans as part of a contract. If this is the case, make sure you are working with a reputable company that understands your factory and can create a schedule that fits requirements.
Regular cleaning versus intensive cleaning
As a rule of thumb, companies should have a regular cleaning pattern in their factories – this should happen on a frequent basis, such as at the end of each workday.
A regular clean should include basic hygiene practices. These will vary depending on your factory and the nature of your work, but could include actions like staff tidying their workstations, wiping down machines and cleaning equipment used. Part of this daily practice should be cleaning any spills as they happen during the workday.
However, beyond this regular clean, you should allocate time for a more intensive clean. Again, this should be scheduled in on a regular basis, though should not need to take place as often as your standard cleaning. It’s only natural for mess to build when your factory is used on a daily basis, so this deep clean should be an opportunity to get everything back into optimum condition and well-organised.
Deep cleans should add an extra level of detail than that of your standard clean, and include things like:
- Removal of factory clutter or materials no longer needed
- Thorough cleaning of machinery, surfaces and flooring
- Re-organisation of the factory where required (e.g. ensuring materials sit in their designated, labelled slots)
During the deep clean, make sure the required staff have the equipment they need – this may be different to what is used for your regular clean. This deep clean will also require more time than a standard clean, so make sure you have allowed for this and accounted for it in line with your production times.
Consider cleanliness at every stage
While cleaning your factory will undoubtedly improve performance, you need to identify scenarios where issues in your factory may impact your cleanliness. Regularly consider your workplace practices and seek more hygienic methods where they are required, so that you can make the job of cleaning easier.
An example of this is making sure your machinery is performing correctly. Cleaning machines will enhance their lifespan and productivity, but a faulty machine can also cause hygiene issues for your produce and the rest of your production line. This is why it’s recommend to regularly maintain your machinery, either with a maintenance contract or with your own systematic checks. It is also advised to only ever use genuine parts for your machinery should you need a repair, as a non-genuine part could result in various errors – some of which could endanger the hygiene of your factory and its output.
Similarly, enable your staff to be able to report any potential flaws in your hygiene practice – whether it’s human error, a machine fault or something else – so that you can be proactive and keep your cleanliness at a high level.
Embedding a cleaning culture into your factory
Now that you know the best practice for cleaning your factory, it’s important to make sure this new ethos of increased hygiene is embedded across your business. There are a few easy steps you can take to create a culture of cleanliness in the workplace, so your employees are empowered to fulfil their part in your new cleaning regime.
Give staff the right training
The first step you should take in promoting increased cleanliness across your factory is making sure your staff have the right training. The training you give should reflect your new practices.
Make sure every employee has knowledge of the basic expectations of them in terms of cleaning, that they know when and what to clean and how to do so. If you have staff who will be undertaking specialist cleaning or even placed in dedicated roles, take time to give them in-depth training as to what they will doing and how often. Further, make it clear who is doing what when it comes to your hygiene procedures, so that everyone can work in conjunction with one another for an efficient cleaning approach. Training should also include senior members of your team, so that they may lead by example.
As part of your training, allow employees to become familiar with the equipment they are use, including telling them how they can access it when needed and how it should be used. Similarly, if you are bringing in logging of cleaning activity, make sure your staff are familiar with how this logging should be done and the consequences of not doing so.
The right training should place your staff in good stead to make your cleanliness guidelines part of their daily work as part of your wider factory cleaning process.
When you are aiming to launch a new hygiene initiative or simply improve current practice within your factory, buy in from your workforce is an essential part of its success.
In order to get buy in from your colleagues, it’s important to communicate openly about the company’s cleanliness ethos. Before practices are put in place, utilise workplace communications to announce them so that employees have time to adjust and feedback if required. This announcement should include the benefits of increased cleanliness, so that staff can see the significance of your procedures.
Even after your new cleaning processes have been implemented, it’s worth revisiting the topic with your employees so they adopt it as a long-term part of their work. Posters on the factory floor and regular communications will help to keep key messages and actions in mind, so that they become ingrained into your day-to-day operation.
Even the best cleanliness routines can fall by the wayside if they are being continually monitored. You should have cleaning processes in place that encourage staff to do the required jobs at the right time, and this should be recorded so that, if any errors occur or cleaning sessions missed, you can pinpoint exactly what has happened and remedy the problem accordingly.
Monitoring progress will also allow you to see what is and isn’t working for your factory. If you notice standards are slipping, it may be time to retrain your staff or send out reminders of best practice. Similarly, if a process isn’t working, it may be time to re-evaluate and improve. By consistently performing checks and monitoring your hygiene, you have the ability to see the impact it’s having and adjust your procedures when its needed.
Cleanliness should be standard part of your factory operations, but should go beyond a semi-frequent tidy. By having enhanced practices in place, you can ensure an effective culture of increased hygiene across all parts of the business. This, in turn, can improve safety for your staff and customers, increase productivity in your production line, allow you to operate efficiently and have a positive impact on your bottom line.