Clean-in-place and sterilize-in-place (CIP/SIP) systems are essential to safe, efficient food production. Between different product runs and on a regular basis, product handling, processing, conveying, and packaging equipment components undergo crucial washdowns to eliminate contaminants. And regularly well-cleaned equipment also tends to enjoy extended operation life, providing an important cost benefit to food and beverage companies.
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Automated and semi-automated, microprocessor-controlled, closed-loop CIP/SIP technologies are by no means new. But they have been making significant strides in better assisting food manufacturers and packagers who want to assure the safety and integrity of their products. Over the years, some food pathogens that lurk in the crannies and crevices of holding tanks, flow pipes, pumps, valves, cooking vessels, product hoppers, and conveyor belts have become more resistant to conventional chemical and thermal cleaning methods. CIP/SIP equipment manufacturers and cleaning chemical suppliers have stepped up to the plate to make sure that the foods on consumers’ plates are safe and hazard-free if properly stored and handled from the truck to the table.
Today, the chief challenges confronting high-efficiency CIP/SIP systems are making them more energy efficient and more environmentally friendly. That means using less water, less heat, less time, and less-caustic chemicals. Alternative technologies may involve using air rather than water—including a new system developed by Aeolus Technologies Ltd. in the U.K.—and cold-acting chemicals rather than heated detergents as the cleaning media. These technologies continue to emerge as vital food safety tools.
One ecology-minded company highly focused on improving the environmental sustainability aspects of food equipment cleaning systems is Sani-Matic Inc., of Madison, Wis. According to Sani-Matic’s senior technical engineer Gabe Miller: “To improve sustainability of cleaning processes, the most significant first step is to reduce the amount of water used for cleaning. By reducing the water required for cleaning, the chemicals needed to treat the equipment can be reduced accordingly, as well as the energy needed to heat and pump the solutions.”
Sani-Matic specializes in the custom design and manufacture of CIP automatic cleaning systems for process lines, tanks, and vessels. These systems can be portable or stationary and single-, double-, or multitank. Each custom design aims to minimize cycle time, lower chemical usage, reduce water and utility costs, and promote worker safety.
“Manual cleaning operations are usually uncontrolled, with operators often using more water than necessary,” Miller said. “So the best way to reduce water consumption and, thus, improve sustainability, is to automate the cleaning operations wherever possible by incorporating high-efficiency clean-in-place systems.”
Conveyor CIP Advances
Automated and semi-automated conveyor cleaning can save food and beverage companies considerably on labor, energy, and water usage. Lafferty Equipment Manufacturing of North Little Rock, Ark., recently introduced its newly designed Conveyor Mate foamer and spinner systems for quicker, higher-efficiency conveyor sanitation and maintenance.
The fully adjustable, high-pressure water-driven Conveyor Mate Foamer is engineered to accurately dilute chemical concentrates to required ratios and then direct high quality foam onto the tops and bottoms of conveyors, using adjustable-angle stainless steel arms for precise targeting by the nozzles. Requiring 30-250 psi water and compressed air, this aggressive hydro-cleaning/rinsing system features an all-stainless steel cart, stainless steel foamer arms and hardware, and a 20-gallon polyethylene tank.
Today, the chief challenges confronting high-efficiency CIP/SIP systems are making them more energy efficient and more environmentally friendly. That means using less water, less heat, less time, and less-caustic chemicals. Alternative technologies may involve using air rather than water.
“The water pressure range of this unit is unmatched by any other foamer that we know of,” said Lafferty’s President Drew Lafferty. “Most foamers on the market cannot operate with water pressure as low as 30 psi. And, typically, an entirely different model is needed if the water pressure is above 125 to 150 psi. This unit’s flexibility to operate with 30 to 250 psi water allows it to be used in a variety of operating conditions.”