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How Strong Organization Saved Foster Farms from Regulatory Disaster

For years it appeared that Foster Farms, California’s largest producer of chicken, was doing an excellent job of keeping its meat salmonella-free.

When the company conducted regular salmonella testing on chicken carcasses, they usually found no trace of the dangerous bacteria. That all changed last year when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) discovered evidence that more than 600 people had contracted salmonella from Foster Farm’s chicken.

Suddenly, the company that had been the industry standard bearer for regulatory compliance found three of its key plants threatened with closure.

The ensuing investigation uncovered a startling fact: cut-up chicken parts test positive for salmonella about 25 percent of the time, while whole carcasses often show no sign of the bacteria. The discovery sent the entire poultry industry scrambling for answers.

Foster Farms took the lead and mobilized a comprehensive plan to locate the source of the salmonella contamination and eradicate it from their products. Here, we’ll take a closer look at how they executed this plan, and how tools like ManagerPlus CMMS can help other companies organize their own compliance efforts.

+ Emergency Response

Before Foster Farms could spend time worrying about where the salmonella was coming from, they had just 72 hours to come up with a plan to eliminate it from their products or face the closure of three of their plants.

The company launched their investigation by focusing on two key variables: the actual processing of the meat, and the environment in which the chickens were being raised.

Operating on narrow deadlines demands a high level of organization and efficiency. If any conclusions were to be made and quickly turned into a plan of action, communication and centralization of data were vital.

This is one of the primary ways in which CMMS solutions like ManagerPlus can be helpful to businesses. Information can be gathered from multiple locations and centralized, making it possible for management to focus on finding solutions, rather than tracking down data.

In the Foster Farm’s example, inspections of key processes and facilities could have been quickly created and immediately disseminated throughout their organization. For example, as management worked with regulators to track the source of the bacteria, they could have been using that information to create inspections that could have been started immediately.

+ A Systematic Approach

Operating within a narrow time frame can make it difficult to maintain efficiency. In the case of Foster Farms, there were questions concerning the security of their poultry facilities against pests like mice and bugs, and whether those pests were carrying salmonella from nearby orchards. Continue reading

Posted in CMMS ROI and Best Practices, Facilities, Manufacturing, Safety and Regulations | Comments Off

How Maintenance Software Can Help Guard Against Toxic Mold

Floor joist mold

Stories about the onset of mold-induced illness read like something out of a horror film. People who were perfectly healthy days or weeks ago develop sudden nosebleeds, rashes, headaches, and respiratory problems so severe that they must be hospitalized in some cases.

The culprit is an invading organism that often spreads invisibly, contaminating work and living spaces. Attempts to kill it can often cause it to spread if proper procedures aren’t followed.

Unfortunately for building owners and managers, and contractors, this is not the stuff of fiction, but a very real, and often very costly problem. Tens of thousands of lawsuits have been filed over mold-related illnesses, resulting in multi-million dollar settlements and expensive relocation and remediation efforts.

With the right tools, however, mold can be prevented from growing or eliminated before it becomes health-threatening. The key, to use an old adage, is to remember that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Maintenance software solutions with inspection tracking capability make it easy to schedule and perform routine checks of mold-prone areas in facilities. Schedule groups can then be created based on the official mold remediation guidelines provided by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

That way, facilities managers can be sure that proper mold mitigation measures are being taken, and also be able to prove it with a solid book of record if needed.  The following are a few critical areas that every facility manager should focus on when creating their mold prevention and detection strategy.

+ Identify the Source Continue reading

Posted in Construction, Facilities, Safety and Regulations | Comments Off

Construction Executive Posts ManagerPlus Fleet Article

CE TT Map Mobile Fleet App

Be sure to head over the Construction Executive’s Tech Trends to check out the latest article by ManagerPlus. Learn how to find the right mobile fleet tracking for your operations:



Posted in CMMS ROI and Best Practices, Construction, Fleet, Guest Articles/Editorials by M+ | Comments Off

Bearing in Mind the Importance of Metal


Metal image

Guest blog by Barton Henderson, Manager at Statewide Bearings

All machine elements are subject to damage and malfunction. To minimize these damages, choosing the right part for the right job is essential. Every metal has its own specific properties and comes in many different grades of quality. Leaving out the difference between one type of material and another can lead to significant damages to both the material and the machine in which it functions.

Manufactured for a Function

It’s obvious that if you intend to use structural components and mechanisms in strenuous conditions, the part must be constructed with the capacity to endure these conditions. Working in high temperatures is very different than with high speeds. A machine built to handle heavy loads needs very different components than a machine built to run underwater.

Some bearings, for instance, are specifically shaped to handle the severe vibrations of high speeds. On the other hand, others are built to resist softening and deformation under high temperatures. If you are using a component for a task it is not adequately suited for, the consequences can be dangerous and awfully costly. Even components made out of other materials, such as plastics and different grades of rubber must be used for their specific purpose. For example, a flat belt meant specifically for durability in extremely low temperatures will not work well when used in a normal temperature and high tension environment.
Continue reading

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Can Pay-for-Performance Increase Equipment ROI?


On the surface, pay-for-performance programs seem to offer a straightforward way to boost output and other performance metrics. After all, nobody is going to pass up an opportunity to make more money, right?

After years of pay-for-performance experiments in a wide range of industries, the answer has come back: it depends. Some companies claim to have seen improvements, while others insist that performance incentives not only have no impact, but can actually undermine company harmony by fostering a climate of cutthroat competition.

Whether they’re for or against pay-for-performance schemes, however, most companies do share at least one thing in common: they often lack concrete metrics for defining rewards, and therefore often have difficulty determining whether productivity has, in fact, increased.

Outside of manufacturing, where output is relatively straightforward, many companies struggle to find basic measures of productivity that reliably reflect changes in employee performance. This is where maintenance software systems come in.

Output at the employee level can be difficult to ascertain, but the performance of a company’s assets is relatively easy to track with the right tools.  Since asset performance is linked closely to overall company performance, it can serve as a solid baseline for measuring improvement, and create a work environment in which it is the shared responsibility of all employees to take good care of equipment, report problems early, and evaluate the performance of maintenance personnel.

A recent article in IndustryWeek tackles the pay-for-performance debate (also referred to as P4P in the article) with a series of questions that managers should ask when considering such a program. A closer look at a few of these key questions reveals the specific ways in which maintenance software could be used to address them:

+ “Have you been on the continuous improvement journey for at least five years?” Continue reading

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How CMMS Helps Manufacturers Win Business


What started as a slow turnaround in manufacturing has lately started to look more like a full-fledged revival. July marked the 14th straight month of expansion for the sector, and the Institute of Supply Management’s manufacturing index reached its highest level in over three years.

Industry analysts have offered a number of explanations for this growth: more manufacturing jobs are returning to the U.S. from China in a process that has been dubbed “re-shoring;” domestic energy production, particularly in areas such as shale, continues to grow steadily; businesses have become more lean and efficient in response to unpredictable market conditions.

Beyond the particular causes, however, there is only one thing that matters to manufacturing businesses: the time is ripe for growth and expansion. The question is, how can companies position themselves to take maximum advantage?

A recent article from IMPO on the 11 questions that manufacturers should ask before partnering with another company provides a key part of the answer. Their first three questions, in particular, highlight a single, critical theme that will help manufacturing companies attract more business: organizational efficiency.

A closer look at each of these three questions reveals why organizational efficiency is important, as well as specific ways that CMMS systems can help enhance it.

+ “Is the contract manufacturer operating with an open book?”

Transparency is integral to trust, which is the foundation of any business arrangement. A company that invests proper time and effort into data tracking and analysis will therefore be at a large advantage when it comes to landing new contracts and partnerships.

Elite manufacturers track asset data using CMMS because it is the most accurate and reliable way to get a true handle on equipment ROI, downtime, operational efficiency, etc. Detailed reports can be run on these metrics and shared with prospective clients and vendors, providing insight into the company’s operations.

This is why CMMS systems are a prerequisite for my many large manufacturing contracts and partnerships. Companies need assurance that the production processes of their contractors and partners conform to independent standards. CMMS systems provide the insight necessary to provide that assurance.

+ “Does the contract manufacturer have a quality program?”

Compliance with quality management standards, such as ISO 9001:2008, is a central requirement in many manufacturing contracts and partnerships. These demands underscore the need for transparency and quality assurance raised in the previous question. Continue reading

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2 Ways to Spot Problem Employees with Maintenance Software

trouble employee

Mistakes happen, but every company has to draw the line somewhere. How many mistakes have to be made—and how costly do those mistakes have to be—before a company must take disciplinary action, hire a new employee, or switch vendors?

Like many of the most vexing problems that businesses face, the process of identifying a problem employee or vendor is a matter of identifying overall trends. The trouble is, many companies lack a system to track the data necessary to do so, or they rely on inefficient, outdated methods like paper systems or basic spreadsheets.

This is where leading maintenance management solutions like ManagerPlus come in handy. Companies that track their assets and manage their workflow in a centralized, digital format can use that information to spot wasteful or inefficient employees and/or vendors in several critical ways.

+ Estimated versus actual hours. Within ManagerPlus, estimated hours can be entered directly onto work orders, making it easy to run a variance report to see exactly what the difference is between how long an employee or vendor is claiming a job will take, and how long they’re actually spending on it. Continue reading

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Reducing Regulatory Costs: 5 Reasons to Ditch Paper Systems for Maintenance Software

Paper nightmare

Debates over the effectiveness and necessity of government regulations have long been a fixture of political debates. The question is usually whether, or to what extent, government agencies should intervene in the economy to protect citizens from the costs or “externalities” associated with commercial enterprise.

Aside from the question of whether regulations are necessary, however, there is little debate over their cost: most measures, including those taken by the government itself, paint a striking picture. Regulations cost billions, if not trillions of dollars every year—and they continue to grow.

Businesses have limited means at their disposal to cope with these demands. Litigation and political lobbying are options, but are only viable for companies large enough to absorb the costs.

What, then, can companies do to combat these soaring costs? There is one key way in which businesses, both large and small, continue to shoot themselves in the foot when it comes to regulatory compliance: continued reliance on paper-based systems.

According to studies, companies are effectively magnifying their regulatory costs by billions of dollars every year by relying on paper systems for compliance. Once physical storage, disposal, postage, administrative labor, and other variables are factored in, the actual cost of paper can be up to 31 times the price of the paper itself.

Fortunately, companies that use maintenance software systems with inspections functionality can easily reduce their reliance on paper by moving key regulatory processes to a secure, centralized digital format.

Here are 5 key ways that maintenance software solutions can help companies make this transition: Continue reading

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6 Tips for Earthmoving Equipment Maintenance

earthmoving equipment

Earthmoving equipment is expensive and complex. Because of this, there are many things you must do to keep it safe and functioning properly. Equipment and tools that function correctly have a lower chance of causing injuries or deaths. This is especially important since thousands of workers are injured annually by earthmoving equipment. Follow these six tips to keep your equipment, tools, and workers safe.

1. Clean Your Earthmoving Machinery Properly

A great way to keep earthmoving equipment and tools safe is to clean it thoroughly. This type of equipment has to do difficult and dirty work which can alter the performance of the machine. Because of this, earthmoving machinery and all its parts should be cleaned regularly.  Continue reading

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The Elk River Chemical Spill: A Preventive Maintenance Cautionary Tale

Drinking Water Contaminated, a Company Bankrupted, a Federal Emergency Declared: All Because of One Leaky Tank

Last January, when it was discovered that a single leaky tank had poured some 10,000 gallons of an industrial chemical into the Elk River in West Virginia, contaminating the drinking water of 300,000 residents, Freedom Industries, the company responsible, filed for bankruptcy within eight days.

But they weren’t the only business affected. In the aftermath of the incident, which was declared a federal emergency by president Obama, representatives from a range of industries, including tourism, hospitality, and food services, signed a letter to West Virginia’s government calling for increased regulation and stronger enforcement.

For a state known for its opposition to all forms of government intervention, the letter signaled a remarkable shift in sentiment. But when considered in light of recent history, the reaction among businesses becomes less surprising: the spill was the third such incident in the past five years, and Freedom Industries’ facilities had not been inspected since 1991.

Thus far, these efforts have helped strengthen regulations pertaining to above-ground chemical storage tanks, but it remains to be seen whether more sweeping changes are in store. Thus far, no additional legislation has been proposed, and lawmakers remain wary of provoking backlash from the state’s powerful coal industry. Continue reading

Posted in Green, Manufacturing, Safety and Regulations, Waste Management/Recycling | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off