Maintenance Tips: Slicer Maintenance 101
When it comes to quickly and accurately cutting meats and cheeses, there’s no better tool than a slicer. By avoiding common end-user mistakes, properly cleaning the unit and following safety guidelines, you can continue to rely on your slicer for product consistency and labor savings.
Stephen Covey wrote about metaphorically “sharpening the saw” in his books, explaining why it was so important for wood-cutters to take the time to sharpen their saw—so that it cut at a higher production rate. The same is true of slicers; the sharper the blade, the better. By taking the time to sharpen and properly care for your slicing investment, your slicer will be more effective and will save you dollars and headaches.
Avoid This Mistake
From a service technician’s standpoint, the most common service call for a slicer is that it’s hard to push or pull. This often results from an employee failing to oil the slide rod or using the wrong substance on it. Many employees have the impression that when the slicer starts sticking, by using a few drops of cooking oil or vegetable oil on the slide rod, it makes the slicer move easier, and it can; that is until the oil heats up from friction and solidifies, seizing the carriage.
Instead of calling for service, the employee repeats the process and applies more oil until the unit is so built up with hardened oil, it won’t move at all. Then, in an expensive service call, the technician has to remove all the old oil before properly lubricating the slide rod with slicer-grade oil to make the unit work again. Avoid all of this by using the proper lubricating oil, which is inexpensive and available from slicer manufacturers.
Cleaning Your Slicer
To keep your machine in perfect running shape, always follow the manufacturers’ specifications and recommendations. Additionally, consider the following tips for cleaning:
• Clean the machine daily with warm water and a mild detergent.
• Never use a steel wool pad or scratch pad to clean the unit.
• When using a chlorine-based sanitizer, a little goes a long way; don’t use too much. Chlorine and stainless don’t mix well.
• Clean and sanitize the slicer every four hours of use for optimal performance.
• Spray on the sanitizer but let it air dry. Don’t wipe it off with a cloth.
• Sharpen the blade regularly as needed; a sharp blade cuts better.
• After sharpening, carefully wipe off the blade to clear minerals left behind from the sharpening stones.
• Lubricate the slide rod with the proper lubricant (mineral-oil based).
Never be casual about maintaining a slicer. The blade is extremely sharp and heavy and a mishap can lead to severe injury. Some basic safety tips include the following:
• Always disconnect the power/unplug the unit before servicing and wait for the blade to stop rotating.
• Always use cut-resistant safety gloves when dismantling the blade for cleaning.
• Always wear eye protection when sharpening the blade.
• Most importantly, get to know the slicer operation, its capabilities and limitations—for example, trying to cut something very dense or hard to slice on a light-duty slicer can be dangerous.
Many slicers are reliable, quality pieces of equipment, built to last long and perform effortlessly. Making sure employees know and abide by the proper operating and maintenance procedures will ensure that your machine provides labor savings and standardized slicing for years to come.
Copyright FER November 2016