Professionals in the food industry rely on the functionality of their kitchen equipment to deliver consistent and safe products effectively to consumers. Kitchen equipment seldom lasts forever or performs perfectly at all times; under regular use without basic maintenance, you may even experience equipment failure. However, in most cases, this failure is preventable if you’re aware of the most common causes of breakdowns as well as how to avoid them.
As a food industry professional, paying close attention to your kitchen equipment and ensuring you’re tending to its needs may prevent catastrophic failures that lead to profit loss. By reviewing these typical causes for kitchen equipment failure and implementing strategies to protect your machinery, you may be able to avoid breakdowns that lead to a halt in production.
When you purchase new kitchen equipment, it should come with a manual that not only tells you how to use the equipment but also outlines its maintenance requirements. It’s important to understand the functionality of the machinery and the maintenance schedule that needs to be followed to keep it operating efficiently.
Regular maintenance for pieces of kitchen equipment may vary depending on the machinery’s purpose, but could include:
As you review your equipment’s manual, it’s important to learn about which types of cleaning solutions, oils, and other substances are safe for the machinery. Using the wrong materials to perform maintenance tasks can ruin the machine.
As a food industry professional, it’s your responsibility to ensure your employees know how to safely and efficiently operate all kitchen equipment they utilize. You must also hold these employees accountable to always properly operate this equipment. When employees don’t use machines properly, don’t take their maintenance seriously, or don’t pay attention to the functionality of the machine, they may cause equipment failure.
Lay out your expectations for your employees and explain that part of their job is to report maintenance issues and to take care of kitchen equipment. Ensure that all employees have read the safety and maintenance manuals for equipment before they operate it.
Host training sessions and refresher courses on how to safely operate kitchen machinery and perform proper maintenance tasks, such as sharpening the blades on food slicing equipment or cleaning the handles on food mixers.
It’s also important that employees have supervisors or managers available to ask questions about machine operations when needed. When you ensure your employees know how to operate and maintain kitchen equipment, you can avoid costly machine failures.
In addition to routine maintenance, your kitchen equipment may also need part replacements or repairs from time to time. While it may seem more beneficial to your budget to ignore these repairs, it can cause more damage in the long run.
For example, if your flame grill hasn’t been heating food evenly, it may be a sign that a burner needs replacing. If you fail to replace or repair this broken part quickly, you could ruin a substantial amount of food product by cooking it over uneven heat.
Additionally, the burner that still functions may be working overtime to make up for a broken and neglected part. This additional work could cause the other burner to also break, compounding the number of replacement parts you need to purchase.
A tight budget or management personnel that doesn’t make maintenance a priority may contribute to these issues. Be financially prepared for what could go wrong with your kitchen equipment and encourage staff to remain aware of faulty parts on all machinery. By addressing these small part replacements and repairs as soon as possible, you can prevent expensive equipment failures in the long run.
The ventilation system you have installed in your kitchen is crucial to the health, safety, and functionality of your kitchen equipment. When an incorrect ventilation system is installed that’s too small for your space or not adequate for the machinery you’re operating in the kitchen, you put your equipment at risk.
Without proper airflow, this type of equipment is generally exposed to the excessive heat and humidity that is produced in a kitchen or food processing plant, which could cause rust within the mechanics of certain machinery. Reduced airflow may also make it hard for the equipment to properly function, causing additional maintenance or repair needs.
This added humidity also creates an environment that may not be safe for food in the kitchen. When you purchase a new piece of equipment, read the manual, and be sure to install an adequate ventilation system to avoid machinery failure or other maintenance issues.
When kitchen equipment is outdated and hasn’t been cared for properly, it’s likely to malfunction. Even if you’ve been diligent in performing maintenance and cleanings as suggested by the manufacturer, kitchen equipment may eventually stop functioning efficiently. It’s important to be prepared for machinery that could fail and need to be replaced over the years, which may include the following:
When you invest in new equipment to replace your outdated machinery, you’ll experience more productivity, efficiency, and ease of use. You’ll also be able to maintain a more sustainable kitchen since updated equipment may use less energy and water to function.
In the food industry, third-party inspections are a dreaded necessity. While these inspections can be stressful, preparing for them may be the best thing for your kitchen equipment. When you know an inspection is coming up, you and your staff are more likely to clean and perform maintenance on all machinery to ensure it passes the inspection.
Even if you don’t have an inspection scheduled, it may be a good idea to regularly go through the motions of preparing for a third-party inspector to visit. Going through this routine highlights quality control issues so you can address them immediately. Preparing for inspection also keeps you and your staff on your toes and ensures your kitchen equipment is getting the attention it needs to properly function and prevent failure.
Your kitchen equipment is vital to the productivity and efficiency of your food operation. By getting all staff members on board and implementing a strict policy that includes proper operation, maintenance, repair, and replacement, your kitchen equipment will continue to contribute to a consistent product and growing profit.