Everyone in the food processing industry could use more time and reduce stress. Even a couple of spare minutes saved per day can increase productivity and put you ahead of the competition.

One way to increase your plant’s efficiency is to optimize the sanitation process. When it comes to sanitation, more and more food companies are choosing to shift this responsibility to contract sanitation providers. Should you consider contracting out sanitation? Here are six factors that might trigger a move to outsourcing:

  1. Focus on productivity

Problem: Putting out a good product is the No. 1 priority. Companies need to spend time focusing on output and making processes more efficient. Unfortunately, that doesn’t leave much time or energy to spend on sanitation.

Solution: Contract sanitation can alleviate much of the time spent managing sanitation processes and tasks. When you outsource sanitation with a trusted partner, you can rely on a team that specializes in sanitation. A dedicated sanitation team ensures that steps won’t be skipped because the contract manager is accountable for following a proper sanitation program. A good contract sanitation company knows food safety regulations, addresses microbial hotspots, advises on hygienic design and understands what documentation auditors are looking for. The best sanitation companies can be business advisers as well as cleaning experts.

  1. Staffing for sanitation is a nightmare

Problem: Hiring and retaining sanitation workers for food and beverage plants has never been a walk in the park, and training good employees can be a major drain on resources. When hiring for open positions, the tendency is to staff production jobs first. On top of that, sanitation work isn’t glamorous, so hiring and retaining good workers is a constant battle.

Solution: Utilizing a contract company dedicated to properly staffing and training sanitation individuals greatly reduces human resources challenges. In addition to staffing, contract cleaners provide their employees with specialized training in sanitation, which ensures it will be done right. A contract company can often transfer trained sanitors from plant to plant based on demand, which guarantees a more reliable and higher level of sanitation service.

  1. Audit compliance records are a headache

Problem: Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) regulations require more proactive sanitation programs and documentation. With governmental and third-party audit frequencies increasing, the time has never been more critical to ensure sanitation records are always up-to-date and accurate.

Solution: Contract sanitation companies work with auditors across the industry and know the standards that inspection agencies are looking for. It’s still up to the processor to produce a safe product, but contractors that are in tune with industry regulations can help maintain the sanitation processes and records that make audits go more smoothly.

  1. You’re losing money on downtime

Problem: Inefficient sanitation can lead to delays in production. Even a minute of lost production can cost processors hundreds to thousands of dollars. In plants with frequent product changeovers, the organization and elimination of downtime is even harder to achieve. On top of physically switching over the plant during each product change, there is also the stress of hoping a full staff of sanitors is present to ensure sanitation can take place in a timely manner.

Solution: Having a separate team that specializes in sanitation can potentially tighten the sanitation window and eliminate downtime issues. Contract sanitation companies allow production to stay on a more timely schedule while sanitation is taking place in another zone or during another shift. In addition to downtime savings, using contract sanitation means that you don’t have to use your own production employees to perform a job they aren’t specifically trained in. Many contract companies even guarantee against downtime or pay for the associated labor costs if production is delayed by sanitation.

  1. Employee safety is an issue

Problem: Worker safety is a huge deal in this industry, and sanitation is one of the most dangerous jobs in the facility. However, providing proper safety training for sanitation employees is often an after-thought, as it usually happens on an off-shift and requires extra time and investment to train employees on safety procedures and best practices.

Solution: By contracting for sanitation, responsibility for training falls to the sanitation site manager who trains each new hire to ensure a safe working environment. Contract sanitation companies take a special interest in sanitation worker safety and have technical staff dedicated to promoting safety and training employees in the workplace.

  1. Stay on budget

Problem: When sanitation is a variable cost month-to-month, it’s tempting to cut corners when budgets get tight. Sanitation can be expensive in terms of chemical selection, resource management and employee retention.

Solution: When you make the switch to contract sanitation, the cleaning process becomes a fixed cost. All employee-related costs, worker liability and chemical and equipment costs are the same each month. This allows for more efficient budget planning because variable costs are reduced. Additionally, contract companies often cover repair costs associated with equipment that may be damaged in the sanitation process.

How to get started

If you are struggling with any of these issues, contract sanitation may be the right solution for your facilities. Finding the right sanitation partner can put the days of, “Maybe next year,” behind you because you’ll have the time and resources to focus on productivity initiatives you want to pursue.