Cleaning and Sanitation Essential in Liquid Processing Plants
Many modern production facilities, particularly in food, beverage, pharmaceutical, and cosmetic production have shifted from using dedicated production lines for each product to using shared lines. Each shared line could be processing several different food items, beverages, cosmetics products or similar a day.
Advantages of shared pipelines include reduced infrastructure costs, space savings, less maintenance and increased flexibility. However, shared lines increase the risks of cross-contamination during or after product changeovers. So, manufacturers must keep their equipment clean to avoid bacterial contamination or cross-contamination between batches.
That’s why cleaning and sanitation is extremely critical in liquid processing plants. Not only does it ensure the health and safety of the consumer, but it’s also essential for producing high-quality and consistent products.
This blog article looks at the role of cleaning and sanitation in liquid processing plants and the role of cleaning in place (CIP) technology. It also looks at how liquid product recovery (‘pigging’) systems can reduce CIP and downtime in liquid processing.
Plant Sanitation for Food, Beverage and Hygiene Critical Industries
If manufacturers fail to put in place and adhere to appropriate hygiene procedures, it can have a negative impact on product quality and safety.
The presence of bacteria and biofilms in food and beverage processing may result in pathogen cross-contamination incidents, product defects such as inflated packaging, reduced shelf life and off flavours, odours and texture breakdown.
This can be detrimental to a brand’s image, resulting in product recalls, millions of lost sales, loss of market share, hefty financial penalties, or at worse consumer health issues.
That’s why pipeline and tubing cleaning and CIP is a critical requirement for any processing facility, especially where the requirements for hygiene and product safety are extremely stringent.
What is Clean in Place in Liquid Processing?
Clean in place or CIP technology has been used in industries such as food, beverage, dairy and pharmaceutical industries for more than 50 years. CIP refers to the method of cleaning hygienic (sanitary) process lines and equipment commonly used in process plants, without having to remove, dismantle or take anything apart.
CIP is principally concerned with removing bacteria, chemical and biological residue from the previous production run and preparing the equipment for the next process or production run. In this way, it plays a vital role in ensuring plant sanitation and hygiene.
Often, the CIP process consists of many different stages. The precise nature of these varies depending on the application, the level of contamination and the product being transferred.
However, usually the CIP process involves an initial rinse stage, often using water. Cleaning is then carried out with one or two specific chemical washes using detergents, strong alkalis or acids. Water is typically used at the final stage to remove the remnants of the previous chemical or cleaning agent.
Note that while water is used for flushing in many processes, some products such as chocolate or solvent-based paints, will not use water.
The Costly Downtime Associated with Clean in Place
Although CIP technology offers many advantages to liquid processing companies, many existing and older CIP systems can be extremely resource-intensive, wasting large amounts of water, energy and cleaning chemicals.
At the same time, although CIP doesn’t typically involve lengthy dismantling and cleaning tasks, it can still create significant downtime.
While the CIP process is taking place, production stops. In general, one CIP cycle takes around 60 to 90 minutes. This can be extremely costly for manufacturers, especially if the CIP process is carried out multiple times throughout the day.
Plant Downtime in Food and Beverage Processing
In food and beverage manufacturing it’s estimated that, on average, manufacturers will spend 20% of their day cleaning and sanitising processing equipment. This accounts for considerable downtime for a plant and is time spent not producing the product.
In many cases, the CIP processes uses a higher consumption of water, chemicals, and energy than is necessary. That’s because many manufacturers are unsure of how their CIP systems are performing. So, they implement additional stages as a precaution to ensure compliance with hygiene standards and to minimise the risks of contamination.
So, for manufacturers not only does CIP mean lost production and downtime but it also means high costs and environmental impacts due to water, energy and chemical discharge.
How to Make the CIP Process More Efficient by Pigging
Product recovery or pigging systems are instrumental in liquid processing operations for recovering valuable product that would otherwise be wasted. Pigging systems are also extremely beneficial to CIP as it makes the process easier, quicker and more efficient.
Because the HPS hygienic (sanitary) pig successfully recovers up to 99.5% of product from full pipelines, there’s minimal product remaining in the pipe. This increases product yield and reduces the amount of waste produced.
At the same time, because of the high recovery rates of the pipeline pig, there’s much less cleaning, water rinsing, and resources required. In this way, there’s less work for a CIP system to do.
Pigging a Pipeline Before CIP Reduces Cleaning Agents, Resources and Effluent
The CIP process can be extremely lengthy and resource-intensive, using large amounts of energy and resources. In addition, the CIP process often uses significant amounts of chemicals, detergents or sterilising fluids as part of the cleaning procedure.
However, pigging a pipeline before CIP decreases the amount of cleaning agents required, saves money and keeps the resources used by CIP systems to a minimum.
In this way, pigging before CIP improves environmental sustainability through the disposal of much lower levels of effluent and chemical waste. Here’s more about the environmental benefits of pigging systems.
Reducing Downtime in Processing Operations
CIP systems often use water to rinse the pipelines and remove the chemical or cleaning agent from the pipe. However, pigging a system beforehand will massively decrease the amount of water needed.
In some cases, the need for flushing can be eliminated completely, due to the effectiveness of the HPS pipeline pig. This means that CIP times can be dramatically reduced as well as the changeover times between batches. This improves overall processing efficiency.
That’s because, during changeovers, production is paused and is non-productive. So, making this process quicker results in less downtime, productivity increases, and reduced labour requirements.
However, it’s important to note, that hygienic and sanitary pigging systems are unlikely to replace CIP altogether, however, they certainly work hand in hand to increase the efficiency of the CIP process.
It’s also important to note that the HPS pipeline pig is a highly specialist device developed and refined over many years. This means it’s one of the highest performance pigs available. Not only does it have extremely high product recovery rates, even when travelling around 1.5 D bends, it’s also long-lasting, robust, and, because it has a flexible magnetic core rather than using solid magnets which can shatter, it’s also extremely safe. Not all proprietary pigs will deliver the high-level results of the HPS pig.
Find Out More
To find out more about reducing CIP times and minimising downtime using hygienic or sanitary pipeline cleaning technology, product recovery and pigging, please contact HPS
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