When it comes to the replacement of your hygiene equipment, it is impossible to provide a specific time frame that is applicable to all sites. This is because the lifespan of your utensils is dependent on the applications they are being used for, the culture at your factory, the attitude of your operatives, and the way in which your equipment is being cleaned and stored.

Having said that, it is possible to closely manage your hygiene equipment – embracing a fail-safe approach to identifying any damage or breakages long before site inspections or customer visits take place.

To help make this possible, we have put together a guide to working out when your equipment needs to be updated. This article also contains advice on extending the lifespan of your utensils, detailing the key questions you need to ask yourself in order to secure success. There is useful information in each section, but you can use the links below to skip to the subject most relevant to your needs.

Are Visual Checks a key part of your site's culture?

The best way to work out whether your equipment needs to be replaced is through Visual Checks. These checks should take place before and after each utensil is used. They should also be instinctive, carried out as you walk around the site and take in the equipment around you. Of course, inspections and customer visits will draw attention to equipment-related non-conformities, but it should never get to this point. Instead, you need these checks to be ingrained in your company’s culture, with operatives at all levels consistently on the lookout for any signs of damage or degradation.

Is your equipment storage highly visible?

The right storage solution will extend the lifespan of your hygiene equipment, reducing the risk of cross contamination and the damage of your utensils between use. Ideally, it will also move your equipment into a highly visible space, as this makes it more likely that any issues will be spotted immediately. Instead of visual checks being left to individual operatives, everyone on site will share a collective responsibility for the identification of any food safety or foreign body risks. What’s more, your auditors and customers will be immediately reassured of your commitment to using quality equipment.

Shadow boards

Shadow board Inspiration Guide

Want to learn more about shadow boards? From engineering tool boards and storage for your spill kits to PPE bases and change part stations, there are over 70 shadow board designs to explore in our Inspiration Guide.

Are your operatives remembering to clean their cleaning equipment?

It is impossible to overstate the importance of making sure your operatives are cleaning their cleaning equipment. In fact, a lot of the sites we work with, have a helpful reminder placed at the top of their shadow boards. Cleaning equipment will not only extend its lifespan, but will also increase the likelihood of any issues being identified.

Instead of broken bristles, torn squeegees, or chipped scrapers hiding under dirt and debris, the cleaning process will uncover any problems.

Proper cleaning will also reduce the risk of hygiene equipment breaking during use. Take, for example, a brush that has been used alongside harsh cleaning chemicals. If this brush is stored away without being cleaned, these chemicals will degrade the PBT bristles and make them much more likely to snap. Alternatively, if the brush is cleaned correctly, it has every chance of withstanding the application it was designed for.

Do your operatives know what 'acceptable' and 'unacceptable' looks like?

Far too often, blame will fall on the shoulders of a hygiene team before a proper root cause analysis has taken place. Instead of jumping to the conclusion that your operatives don’t care if the equipment at your site is damaged or broken, it is worth considering whether or not they understand what ‘acceptable’ and ‘unacceptable’ utensils look like.

After all, a lot of your operatives may be agency staff who are unfamiliar with your site’s standards. Even permanent team members may be under the impression that if a piece of hygiene equipment is hanging up, it must be suitable for use. Depending on the culture at your site, your team could also believe that the priority is getting the job done as quickly as possible, without taking time to worry about sub-par equipment.

Acceptable

Unacceptable

One of the best ways to ensure your site has a positive culture is to highlight your visual standards. You can do this by introducing helpful visuals to your Cleaning Equipment Cards, putting up signs around your site, or creating a separate document dedicated to a visual comparison of ‘appropriate’ and ‘inappropriate’ equipment. We have also seen sites introduce these images to their shadow boards, as this is a great way to ensure standards are reinforced every time equipment is reached for or put away.

From damaged bristles and splintered edges to soiled utensils that are far too dirty to clean, your operatives need to know when a piece of equipment has reached the end of its lifespan. They also need to be trained on what to do if they spot an issue with the equipment. Do they know who is in charge of sourcing a replacement? Do they understand the importance of raising an issue before their shift instead of after it? Do they believe their efforts will be appreciated? All of these questions will need to be addressed during your ongoing training sessions.

It is also worth thinking about how easy it is for the relevant operatives to source replacements, with a simple process likely to increase engagement. One solution is to introduce QR codes to your shadow boards, with these codes allowing designated operatives to order equipment at the click of a button. The Klipspringer Online Portal is another helpful resource, as it allows you to save previous orders and favourite specific items – cutting down on the time it takes to secure new equipment.

Can you spot any mistakes or examples of misuse?

Another important step is to identify any instances of the hygiene equipment at your site being misused. Common examples include plastic scrapers being used for extremely stubborn residues, squeegees being dragged over sharp metal bolts on the factory floor, and brushes with extra soft bristles being used to tackle tough residues that require significant agitation.

In all of these instances, equipment is being exposed to unnecessary risks – used for the wrong application and likely to be damaged as a result. With more durable or suitable options available, there is no reason for this to happen.

Even if the right equipment is being used for each application, it is possible that mistakes were made during the initial ordering process. Perhaps someone at your site arranged for your utensils to be engraved, unknowingly creating harbourage points for bacteria and running the risk of a non-conformity. Here, a solution is to switch to IndeliMarked equipment that can be branded with essential information without compromising any hygiene or food safety requirements.

Another possibility is that someone at your site opted for resin-set brushware instead of standard hygiene brushware, unaware of the possible risks involved. Or, it could be that your site’s senior leadership switched to metal-detectable equipment off the back of a customer complaint, without working through the pros and cons of this decision. This could be your opportunity to do the research and select a more suitable option for your site.

Have you spoken to your equipment provider?

When it comes to researching the best hygiene equipment for your site, the responsibility shouldn’t be yours alone. Instead, you should draw on the industry experience of your equipment provider. Say there is an issue with the utensil you are using for a specific application and you are concerned about how often you are sourcing replacements. A trust-worthy supplier will help you get to the bottom of the problem. From refining your processes and sourcing alternative equipment to providing educational resources for the training of your operatives, the support of your provider should extend beyond the initial purchase.

Do your operatives understand the risks of waiting too long to replace equipment?

The final step is to make sure everyone at your site understands the consequences of waiting too long to replace equipment. Ideally this will come from the top down, with Senior Management ensuring this is an integral part of your company’s culture.

When stressing the importance of this issue, the key points to highlight are as follows. Damaged or broken equipment poses both a foreign body and food safety risk. This could result in a non-conformance, a failed audit, factory closure, and the loss of employment for everyone at your site. It could also have serious consequences for your customers, causing serious illness or even a fatality. On a daily basis, sub-par equipment will also result in an ineffective process, slowing down production and frustrating operatives. This could impact employee retention and the overall atmosphere of your site.

So there you have it, an answer to the question: How do I know when my Hygiene Equipment needs to be replaced? As with so many aspects of running a successful food or beverage production site, a proactive approach is key. Waiting for an external inspection, a non-conformance, or a customer complaint will leave you in a vulnerable position, so you need to be tackling any issues with your equipment head on.

Here at Klipspringer, we have been supplying hygiene equipment for over twenty years and we would be more than happy to help you with any queries relating to this matter. If you would appreciate further guidance on replacing your equipment, finding the right utensil for each application, or extending the lifespan of your hygiene tools, you can contact us on 01473 461800 or sales@klipspringer.com. Alternatively, you can fill out the contact form below and one of our friendly team members will be in touch. 

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