Logistics and distribution centres are essential to the provision of consumable goods through the handling, holding, transferring and storing of safe, wholesome food.
While every product available from the shelves of retail outlets has been stored and distributed, consumers have little knowledge of the activities that ensure their on-going safety and satisfaction. Safe practices follow products through all the stages of the food supply chain and are critical to the reputation and success of retailers and fast-food chains.
The concept of food safety from farm to fork is complex with multiple players. As logistics and distribution centres only handle finished products, their services must be provided in environments that are clean, monitored and that support on-going food safety and quality product handling.
The role of a cleaning company in logistics and distribution centres
Expert cleaning companies support the food supply chain and partner with logistics and distribution centres to achieve their business objectives by delivering end-to-end cleaning services:
- Clean, well-maintained facilities;
- Clean, pest-free commercial trucks and vehicles;
- The application of HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points) principles in preventing hazards;
- Affective internal assessments and reports;
- Appropriate equipment and maintenance schedules;
- Proven cleaning methodologies and processes;
- Supplier management;
- Food-graded cleaning products;
- Experienced management to ensure compliance to the strictest standards; and
- Informed staff that are trained to provide quality cleaning services.
Food safety and compliance in warehouses and distribution centres
There is no single authority or legislation that oversees the hygiene or cleaning requirements at logistics and distribution centres in the food supply chain.
A three-fold audit approach supports the facility’s compliance to health and safety requirements by retailers, fast-food chains and buyers in the FMCG (fast moving consumer goods) industry.
Cleaning staff, the cleaning systems, products, methodologies and monitoring systems all form part of the audit.
- Client audit: Retailers and fast-food chains have their own safety standards and hygiene requirements for logistical and warehousing services; and often they adopt international standards. They use their own internal auditors to verify and endorse the product holding facilities and services. These audits take place throughout the year, some of which are monthly, and often occur simultaneously, demanding extensive time and resources to ensure that the certifications are attained and maintained.
- External audit: Independent audits, commissioned by major buyers and players in the food supply chain, have increased significantly over the years to improve the effectiveness of the food safety and quality management systems in place.
- Internal audit: Expert cleaning companies conduct their own internal audits to assess their operational and staff performance to ascertain service levels and identify training requirements and any potential risks or remedial actions required.
For warehouses and distribution centres, partnering with a reputable and experienced cleaning company can make all the difference to their ability to maintain on-going business contracts and to operate sustainable and successful businesses.
Managing labour – the biggest compliance challenge
Cleaning is a labour-intensive activity. And since people are not robots, labour is the biggest challenge when it comes to compliance in the food supply chain.
There are three core activities that are critical to achieving reliable, consistent cleaning performance from on-site cleaning teams, which involve:
- Training: Adequate staff training and assessments;
- Communication: Effective, open staff communication; and
- Monitoring: On-going performance monitoring and management.
These activities are an on-going requirement and support the company’s compliance with strict health and safety standards, and also to ensure that new staff members who join the team are brought up to speed.
Maintaining a single standard
Cleaning performance is enhanced when standardised protocols and cleaning methodologies and techniques are applied and when staff are trained and monitored continuously. These protocols can include:
- A unique master cleaning schedule for each site, including all areas as well as the details and frequency of the cleaning activities, including clean up procedures and responsible disposal techniques;
- Standard operating procedures (SOPs) and the cleaning specifications, method, technique and chemicals for predefined cleaning requirements, for example, the cleaning of walls.
- A master verification schedule that obtains the client’s confirmation that the right areas were cleaned correctly at the right times and at the right standard.
- Monthly and weekly checklists validate that thorough assessments, reports and on-going improvement form part of the cleaning service delivery.
- Proactive equipment maintenance schedules minimise the risk and cost of operational disruptions due to unplanned equipment downtime.
Agility – a key ingredient in achieving successful outcomes
Logistics and distribution centres are busy places and often operate under tight schedules. These schedules are influenced by seasonal demands for certain products, affecting the requirements for the environment, shift planning and the cleaning schedule. As a result, cleaning activities can be hindered, as some areas in the facility may be inaccessible during peak operations. The speed of work makes it difficult to focus on cleaning, but the cleaning activities remain a critical operational requirement. A high level of flexibility by the cleaning company is therefore required to ensure a win-win outcome. Expert cleaning companies are able to quickly adjust cleaning shifts to accommodate the fluctuations in operations and the unique needs of their clients.
Top 8 considerations when evaluating cleaning companies in the food supply industry
Maintaining the highest cleaning standards with the right cleaning partner helps logistics and distribution centres meet the strict requirements of the food supply industry, and ensuring safe, satisfied consumers.
When looking to appoint a cleaning company in the food supply industry, the following points are worth keeping in mind:
- Compliance: Does the company comply with the criteria of ISO 22 000 and HACCP (Hazard analysis and critical control points)?
- Operating methodologies and proven systems: Do their standard operations include all the schedules and protocols that enable effective service delivery and management?
- Relevant experience: What track record does the company have in storage and distribution depots for the food supply industry?
- Agility: Owner-run companies often have an invested interest and their effort and agility make it easy to engage and work with them and customise their services to meet unique client requirements. Usually, these companies operate on a first-name basis with their clients and move quickly to get new equipment on site, replace staff when necessary, or change a supplier quickly and easily.
- Reputable references: Does the company have references from large, national companies whose requirements are demanding and whose standards will verify the company’s ability to perform under pressure. The association will verify that the company conducts their business with their clients’ interests and reputation at heart.
- Relationships: Can the company’s references confirm that they share a trusting relationship with the company and that engagement, escalation and management processes are quick, easy and uncomplicated.
- Empowerment: Does the company comply to the codes as a broad-based black economic empowerment company?
- Education and staff communication: Is the company committed to on-going education, ensuring that the company stays up to date with the changes and developments of the industry. The supply of chemicals and equipment needs to be relevant and compliant to the requirements of food safety. Is regular staff engagement and the reinforcement of key messages part of their culture?
Performance guarantee – no contract required
At African Corporate Cleaning, we are so confident about solving all your cleaning needs that we will do so without any long-term contract in place. If we let you down, you just let us go. This ensures that we will always work hard at keeping you happy.
See how quickly we can help you
We have the right teams that ensure the highest standard of cleaning activities, approved cleaning methodologies and practices, and a management team with extensive experience in monitoring performance and conducting successful audit responses to ensure food safety and sustainable business in the food supply industry. Contact us for fast assistance: Contact Us
African Corporate Cleaning helps you ensure clean, compliant environments for the safe supply of food products to your clients in the food supply industry.
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