KANSAS CITY — Time is money and the simplest way to reduce scheduled downtime while improving sanitation is having equipment that’s simpler to clean.

Even with essential and seemingly easy-to-clean conveyors, bakers are looking to find ways to get the production line up and running as soon as possible. That may mean conveyors with fewer catchpoints, such as sandwich joints or no exposed hollow areas or modular plastic beltings designed with open-hinge construction for easy cleaning and less buildup within the belting.

Brushes and scrapers help keep belt surfaces clean during operation. In addition to sanitary design, clean-in-place systems can be used if the application requires it, according to Baking & Snack’s report on conveyor technology in its March issue. With labor and supply chain issues, more bakers and snack makers are looking at the total cost of ownership of equipment. That not only includes purchase price and cost of installation, but ongoing expenses involving labor, downtime and product waste that can add up to big bucks over time, and in some cases, require more capital investment sooner.

Perhaps the greatest challenge in the total cost of the ownership equation involves finding skilled maintenance technicians to keep their operations running smoothly. Without them, the equipment will underperform expectations, resulting in higher operating costs and potentially damaging customer service when distribution has to short orders instead of meeting customer demand.

That’s why maintenance is now a driver for capital spending. Bakers need to look for those long-term hidden costs when investing in automation today to address the challenges of tomorrow..