Hygienic Design, Part Four: Clean-In-Place and Infrastructure Improvements
As Gray discussed in Parts One, Two, and Three of this series, there are serious considerations when it comes to designing, constructing, and renovating food & beverage facilities. F&B manufacturing operations have the constant responsibility of maintaining hygienic control for not only their products, but also their employees. The all-encompassing process involves everything from utility tie-ins and trash collection to airflow direction and a thorough sanitation program—and more. After a facility is built and set up for hygienic design, the cleaning of process equipment is a critical factor.
We spoke with several leaders across the industry, from process design managers to sanitary equipment specialists and engineers, to find out more about how plant infrastructure can be improved via the installation of automated cleaning and disinfectant processes. This, the last of a four-part series on hygienic design, addresses infrastructure improvement; how CIP systems can be utilized in different-sized spaces; and the added benefits of such systems.
Plant Infrastructure Positives
In discussing how plant infrastructure can be improved through the use of clean-in-place (CIP) systems, Terry Voigt, process design engineer at Anderson Dahlen Inc. (ADI), a Gray company, noted that “CIP systems should be manufactured to provide decades of trouble-free operation for the lifetime of the equipment into which it is incorporated.”
Building any major structure requires the involvement of teams of experts in a range of disciplines coordinating efforts to get the best result. “So,” Voigt continued, “when designing a complex processing installation, involve the CIP experts from the start and ensure you get the best overall build and efficiency for the total line. A modern CIP system must take into account not only the cleaning required, but also the environmental impact of the whole CIP process. Energy consumption must be minimized, as must the amount of water and chemicals used.” Where the water is disposed, depending on its level of contamination, the careful collection and proper disposal of contaminated chemicals and water must also be considered, he noted.
Brian Bernard, president of Spec Engineering, a Gray company, added another positive: “Equipment does not need to be disassembled when a CIP system is integrated.” This allows for decreased wear-and-tear on the equipment. There will also be improved efficiency and performance of the process equipment, such as heat exchangers, mixers, and sanitary piping flows, Bernard averred.
Brian Woltman, sanitary equipment sales at Anderson Dahlen, spoke to the nuts and bolts of some of the time-saving aspects of a CIP system. One of the main benefits he saw was the “ability to run automated cleaning systems from a main control center, along with other systems for the plant.”
Tight Spaces? No Problem
What about tight or congested spaces? Can automated systems still be designed for smaller operations—and if so, how does this work compare to larger facilities’ capabilities?
“When floor space of installing a permanent CIP system is not available, a compact mobile CIP system may be an option,” said Voigt. Unlike permanent systems that are hard-piped in place, mobile systems allow easy transport of the CIP unit closer to tanks and pipes to be cleaned and sanitized. “Mobile cleaning stations enable perfect cleaning solution when a hard-piped stem is not an option.”
Mike J. Green, sales manager at Anderson Dahlen, agreed, stating that, “CIP systems do not need to take up much floor space.” Often, the process equipment can be utilized for CIP fluid mixing, as well.
Bernard also noted how CIP systems can be designed for tight or congested spaces and are completely customizable. “Whether it is a small or large facility, CIP systems can be tailored for the space available. The number of different skids and the utilization of mobile CIP self-contained cart units to complete the wash-and-rinse cycles must be considered, however, along with the sizing of requiring pumps and CIP lines,” he warned.
Woltman cautioned that, in smaller plants, sometimes the payback might not be as large, due to costs. He stated, “Larger facilities are cleaning larger equipment, and [therefore] the benefit outweighs hand-cleaning.”
Added Benefits of CIP Systems
There are a variety of other benefits for food processing companies who opt to use automated cleaning systems. Voigt enumerated many of them. They include improved operational hygiene, cleaning efficiency (due to the fact that the cleaning process can be reproduced over and over), and lower expenditures. He also mentioned that CIP systems are energy-efficient and save on both water and chemical usage.
Other benefits include the ability for companies to:
- Reduce the risks from food hazards – food poisoning and foreign body contamination
- Comply with local and international legislation
- Meet specific customer requirements
- Meet the requirements of global food safety standards (GFSI)
- Maintain positive audit and inspection outcomes
- Allow maximum plant productivity
- Present a hygienic visual image
- Promote safe working conditions for staff, contractors, and visitors
- Maintain product shelf-life
- Avoid pest infestation
- Data and validation of sanitized conditions
To this litany of benefits, both Woltman and Green added, respectively, that CIP systems reduce manual labor and human error. Green continued, “With the same results every time, it almost completely eliminates human error… it’s a documented process.”
“Modern CIP systems utilize automation that is highly customizable, minimizes process downtime, and yields predictable and repeatable cleaning results,” added Jonathan Malakoff, subject matter expert of liquid systems at Spec Engineering.
Malakoff stated perhaps one of the most intangible, yet important, aspects of implementing a modern CIP system: peace of mind. This includes “…knowing that you have a clean process for your system, especially if you are dealing with allergens or multiple recipes on one process line. Tracking your sterilization process data also provides a new level of food safety.”
The second major benefit Malakoff noted is the efficiency CIP systems can provide. Food processing companies will see a decrease in labor costs, along with a decrease in production downtime. Employees are also safer by not being exposed to the chemicals used in the cleaning process.
The final of this four-part series on hygienic design in F&B processing adds even more interesting insights to the subject. We saw the benefits of CIP on plant infrastructure and how even small-scale operations can make CIP systems work for them. A succinct parting thought from Green summed it up nicely: “Automation is required in order for food manufacturers to be able to validate their cleaning activities.”
Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a contributing author and not necessarily Gray.