How can pharmaceutical professionals improve their equipment cleaning process? This can be a daunting task for industry veterans as well as rookies. With so many details and regulations to keep track of, it’s easy for the job to become one of the most challenging processes in the pharmaceutical industry.
Here are some tips and tricks that can make it easier to clean pharmaceutical equipment and keep facilities running productively and safely. Employing these strategies can ensure a smooth process for everyone involved in sanitation efforts.
Stick to a Consistent Routine
One of the top best practices for cleaning pharmaceutical equipment is to make sure it happens regularly. Consistency is crucial in timing as well as execution. Routines help improve individuals’ productivity and also establish a baseline that will be helpful if something ever goes wrong during the process.
Cleaning pharmaceutical equipment requires following carefully outlined procedures where even a small misstep can lead to contamination and wasted materials. Keeping that process on a strict routine — the same time every day in the same order and ideally with the same people — can help prevent mistakes. Consistency makes it less likely that staff will forget a step or use the wrong cleaning agent by accident. It’s also easier to identify where an error originated from if a piece of equipment is not cleaned properly.
Always Have Backup Cleaning Solutions
The last thing any technician wants is to be in the middle of a decontamination process and run out of cleaning agents. Accidents and spills can also lead to a shortage of required cleaners. That’s why it’s vital to keep backup supplies of primary cleaning agents as well as alternatives in case something goes wrong with the main batch.
For example, maybe the supply of a company’s regular cleaner arrives only for quality assurance technicians to discover it contains chemical defects. Having an approved alternative will keep things running smoothly and eliminate any potential downtime.
Similarly, the pharmaceutical industry is highly innovative, so new equipment development is not uncommon. Suppose a facility adopts a new machine into its process. In that case, they will be able to easily switch to a different cleanser if their main one is incompatible with or not ideal for the latest equipment. Even with backup cleaning solutions that must be used within 24 hours of preparation, it is a good idea to keep the materials needed to create them handy just in case.
Make Time for Quality Approval
A general rule of thumb for maintaining clean pharmaceutical equipment is to avoid minimizing quality approval. This process is critical for ensuring all equipment is getting sanitized to the best standards possible. With the whole world relying on the pharmaceutical industry more than ever, quality assurance has never been more important. QA personnel have to inspect many items, from the cleaning facilities themselves to the steps in the cleaning process and every single material used. Allow ample time for the QA team to do their jobs and get the best results possible.
While it may seem counterproductive to halt operations for approval checks, leaving plenty of time for this process will lead to cleaner pharmaceutical equipment in the long run. It is important to remember that quality approval is also necessary to keep cleaning personnel safe and ensure nothing is overlooked. Even the best employee can sometimes make errors, such as accidentally selecting an incompatible solution or leaving something out of cleaning and sanitization documentation.
Get the Right Parts Washer
Choosing the right parts washer for each stage of the cleaning and sanitizing process is just as critical as selecting the ideal solution. There are various options for pharmaceutical equipment parts that can be cleaned out of place. Experts recommend carefully considering numerous factors before deciding on a specific parts washer, such as the design characteristics of the components themselves as well as the material being cleaned off. Take time to examine existing cleaning equipment, as well, and look for ways it could be improved to better fit machines’ needs.
Those looking to streamline their pharmaceutical equipment cleaning process should consider automated cleaning devices. Not all equipment can be cleaned with autonomous parts washing machines, but reducing the number of pieces that need to be cleaned manually will certainly speed up the process. This is especially useful for facilities with a high volume of equipment that needs to be cleaned and sanitized, even more so if there are many duplicate parts.
Work in Teams
Teamwork is an important component of success in any workplace, but its effectiveness is amplified in the health care and biotech fields. The pharmaceutical industry is no exception. Verifying that a facility only uses well-cleaned equipment every day depends on a cohesive cleaning and sanitizing team. There are so many details to keep track of, and it’s helpful for personnel to work in groups or pairs.
Experts have emphasized the importance of teamwork across all health care-related fields. It’s a good idea to conduct training with mixed groups of people from different stages of the cleaning process. This builds community and a stronger workflow since everyone gets to know how their part of the process affects everyone else. Working in teams may also reduce errors and forgetfulness on the job since there are multiple people focused on the same or similar tasks.
Keeping Pharmaceutical Equipment Clean
Safety and efficiency are key to success in the pharmaceutical industry and make top-notch cleaning procedures a priority. These tips provide a place to start for industry professionals hoping to improve their equipment cleaning processes. However, the best pharmaceutical equipment cleaning strategies are those that continue to grow and adapt.
Consider taking feedback from cleaning staff to see how the system is functioning on their end. Additionally, continue searching for ways to streamline equipment cleaning and sanitizing even after testing these strategies. Preparation, collaboration and research will go a long way toward building a cleaning and sanitizing system that produces the safest equipment possible.
Emily Newton is the Editor-in-Chief of Revolutionized, a magazine exploring how innovations change our world.