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Cleaning Pizza Making Machinery

Anyone who’s ever tried to make pizza knows it’s a mess; the gooey cheese sticks to baking and cutting surfaces, the dough dusts everything in sight, and the sauce drips onto counters and ovens. AM Manufacturing Company is well acquainted with the mess—the company makes, sells and refurbishes the equipment that allows for high-production of frozen pizzas. Their parts and machines are used by most of the big names in the frozen pizza market.

As a manufacturing company, AM performs a significant amount of testing, running parts and machines through the dough making and pizza baking processes thousands of times. Naturally, the parts that come in contact with the pizza get sullied with oil and caked on with dough. Before they can be tweaked and tested again, the parts have to be cleaned—a process that can be time consuming and laborious because of the unwieldy machinery.

For AM, cleaning the equipment was such a monumental task that the employees simply didn’t want to do it. And with clients from big-name frozen pizza companies coming in to tour their facilities, it was essential that their equipment and parts were clean. For years, AM employees soaked parts in soapy water and then scrubbed away grime. It was hard work, and employees hated doing it. Even when equipment and parts were thoroughly scrubbed and soaked, built-up deposits of oil and dough remained in hard-to-reach crevasses.

Mark Van Drunen, President of AM, knew that there had to be a better cleaning solution. His research lead him to a Cincinnati company, UltraSonic LLC, which seemed very good on paper, so he arranged to send them some test parts to clean. Those came back so clean that Van Drunen was, at first, a little skeptical. That, coupled with the cost of the machinery, prompted him to request a rental unit to prove out the ultrasonic technology at AM’s facility. Because the appropriate machine was not in stock, renting one wasn’t an option, but UltraSonic President Phil Esz said, “If the machine doesn’t impress you, we’ll take it back.”

According to Van Drunen, employees now just place parts in the cleaner, press a green “Go” button, and pull out the clean components after about five minutes. Everything that touches the dough – from the tooling that makes pizza crust into a desired size and shape to the machines that knead and ball the dough – goes into their new cleaner.

In only three months, the UltraSonic cleaner has changed the way that AM cleans its tools. With an intuitive, easy-to-use touchscreen, there was virtually no learning curve to overcome. Since no special training is required, any employee at the facility can clean the tools—which means cleaning is more likely to occur, and when it does, the process is not one that employees dread. Now, when high-stakes visitors visit the AM facility, they are met with clean machinery, which helps to create a good first impression.