It pays to let off a bit of steam

19-07-2013
Highly effective - steam cleaning sanitises and can improve workplace safety
There are a wide variety of cleaning methods now available to manufacturers, depending on the type of industrial sector you’re in.
 
Some of these include manual scrubbing using chemicals or large amounts of water with high pressure and industrial vacuum methods.
 
In the manufacturing industry, although the need to clean is of high importance, “infection control” is not the main priority. Rather, the focus is on quick yet efficient processes.
 
Most industrial cleaning requires going over large areas, making time and reducing the manual effort key factors.
 
Steam is the number one cleaning method for the aged care and healthcare sectors, with the hospitality and accommodation sectors following suit.
 
Although infection control is the main priority in these sectors, there are other strong reasons why these industries – and many other manufacturers – choose steam. These include:
 
OH&S requirements
Safety is a priority in the manufacturing industry. Great importance is placed on the safety of workers such as safe operating procedures, PPE and first aid knowledge.
 
The cleaning of dirt and oils off industrial floors is vital to the manufacturing cleaning process to prevent slips and falls.
 
When processes such as water and chemicals are used it only “wipes” dirt, transferring the grime from one surface to another.
 
It is also natural for people to overuse chemicals. The overuse of chemicals not only can make a surface more slippery but it prevents the removal of dirt, instead trapping the dirt and oils creating a sticky surface. The sticky surface then creates a build up of more dirt and oils.
 
When heated at 180°C and above, dry steam breaks down and melts all dirt and grime. Steam kills mould and bacteria without the need for drying time, eliminating the hazard of slippery floors.
 
Today’s modern industrial steam cleaning equipment can now be battery operated, minimising cords trips and electrical hazards. These machines have been designed specifically to cater for large flooring areas and the safety focused culture of the industrial sector.
 
Industry standards
A key cleanliness test in the industrial sector is running water across a surface, holding it vertical and seeing whether the running of the water is smooth or results in beaded water. If the water is broken up rather than a smooth, unbroken steam, the test shows there is still some form residue on the surface.
 
When cleaning with traditional chemicals and hosing down surfaces with water, the chances of the cleaning process passing this water test, decreases greatly. Steam doesn’t leave behind residue of any type.
 
Together with its infection control capabilities, steam ensures that all manufacturing surfaces, whether they are benches, flooring or equipment will pass the cleanliness test.
 
Parts cleaning
As steam is a vapour, it can detail clean and get into hard to reach areas or awkwardly shaped surfaces that can be involved in parts cleaning.
 
Steam on metal surfaces or objects, such as industrial parts and equipment, pickles the surface removing all impurities that get into the pores or “micro holes” of the metal.
 
Getting into the pores of metal produces that lustre and shine that can commonly be seen when metal receives a deep clean.
 
The sanitation of equipment is an important step in the industrial cleaning process, as well as ensuring that the cleaning methods used to not have a negative impact on quality.
 
Steam doesn’t leave behind any moisture or residue which can cause blockages and rusting, and because it is a natural cleaning agent it won’t cause surface erosions.
 
Infection control and HACCP analysis 
Although infection control procedures aren’t as big of a concern in industrial cleaning as it may be in other sectors, there are still major risks that can harm the health of staff or contaminate a production line.
 
Legionnaires outbreaks can be caused by the build up of moulds and spores, which typically grow in moist and damp areas such as factory refrigeration systems, warehouse storage unit, cold rooms and industrial air conditioning systems. The use of steam is highly effective in controlling the spread of infection as bacteria and microbes are unable to survive at the high temperatures that steam can reach.
 
The infection control processes within food manufacturing is one of the industrial sectors key industries where priority is placed on santisation and hygiene.
 
Surfaces such as conveyor belts, production lines and benches are critical contact points where product, in a raw state when touching these surfaces, increases the risk of contamination.
 
Murray McDonald is Director of Duplex Cleaning Machines. He has over 20 years’ experience in the distribution of industrial cleaning equipment. Duplex offers a broad range of cleaning machine products in Australia and New Zealand.

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