The Price of Time and the Product Quality Cleaning Workshop21

We start with a shameless plug for the Product Quality Cleaning Workshop21 (PQCW21). The May workshop is virtual, convenient, cost-effective, and informative. PQCW21 provides the skills to become the expert that saves your company time, money and aggravation. PQCW21 gives you the weapons to defend critical cleaning process choices to your boss, to your customers, and to auditors and inspectors.

Moving to a new process for critical product cleaning involves a significant chunk of change – the cost of new cleaning equipment is one obvious consideration. Costs of new cleaning machines for any sizeable manufacturing application often starts in the six figure range and can easily advance to the mid-to high-six figures (even higher). Other costs are less obvious. Manufacturers may not track the time, effort, labor – not to mention the general angst and aggravation — of cleaning process development.

Company meetings, web searches, travel, and attending conferences and trade shows costs money. Based on over 30 years experience in critical cleaning consulting, we’ve estimated some hidden costs.

Every time you meet with the boss, the safety/environmental group, your customers, and the production people involves the burdened cost of your time and usually the time of at least two co-workers (we’ve been pulled into day-long meetings involving dozens of co-workers). There’s the time involved in getting quotes and figuring out what they actually mean, testing new processes, choosing and running the lab tests for cleanliness. It takes time to work with suppliers, customers, and regulatory agencies. Many new cleaning processes involve modifying the facility; you’d better coordinate with the Facilities/Maintenance department. Then there’s convincing, training, and (even more important) educating production people.

The figures start adding up!

Optimistic Scenarios for Cleaning Process Change
We came up with two model scenarios for the labor involved in cleaning process change. They are idealized estimates of labor and travel costs where almost everything goes right the first time. They are extrapolated from our experience; but they are not case studies. Think of these estimates as akin to the reality TV shows where the friendly twins or the loveable couple from Texas do a complete color-coordinated remodel of your home within 60 minutes (including getting permits, relocating plumbing, and expunging the mess deposited by your spouse, partner, children, and assorted domesticated and/or wild animals). Our idealized estimate for high precision cleaning exceeds $95,000. For what is sometimes referred to as “safety-critical cleaning,” the estimate came to over $275,000. “Safety-critical” means “failure is not an option;” airplanes could fall out of the sky, navigation systems could catastrophically fail, or people’s tushes could fall off if the cleaning process is inadequate.

Let’s get real
These estimates are probably low, and they don’t include the capital cost of equipment. We optimistically estimated that the cleaning process works reasonably well the first time, that the big boss loved the process you suggested, that customers are happy, that regulatory agencies like the FDA make few to no comments, that little investment in facility adaptation is needed, and that equipment set-up runs without a hitch.

The estimates don’t include the costs of sending you or your team down the wrong path, or listening to endless hours of sales hype. Estimates do not include addressing the unrealistic dreams of upper management or a large customer. Estimates do not include the costs of buying cleaning equipment that does not do the job reliably or that damages the product, or spending $100,00 on a new cleaning system when you really needed the $500,000 version (or vice versa).

PQCW21 – Time well-spent
Practical education in critical cleaning gives you the tools to save you and your company time and money. Therefore, we conclude with a final shameless plug to sign up for Product Quality Cleaning Workshop21.

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