Food and beverage manufacturers recognize that having proper clean-in-place (CIP) methods for closed systems is not only a regulatory requirement, but it also makes good business sense by ensuring consumer food safety and product quality.
What doesn’t make sense are the current practices many manufacturers undergo in order to make changes to their CIP recipes, sequences, and procedures. Often this requires issuing request for proposals, securing approvals, involving sanitation or chemical experts, and waiting weeks for an optimization expert or otherwise other engineering resource to conduct an onsite visit and perform a straightforward change.
Time is money, as every manufacturer knows. Clearly something better, faster, cheaper, smarter, and simpler is needed.
Enter newer, configurable CIP systems that empower manufacturers by bringing optimization and system design together in one automation solution. Typically, optimization and programming are two functions approached separately. When combined into a single solution, however, the automation gives manufacturers full control over adjusting and monitoring their CIP systems without incurring the expense and inefficiencies that come with calling in outside programming or engineering assistance for each and every modification.
With the latest control and monitoring automation, manufacturers can themselves tweak and modify their CIP systems to create greater efficiencies, use fewer chemicals and less water, and decrease cleaning downtime. They can do it all, without having to call in external resources to incorporate their prescribed changes into the automated system.
Today’s best configurable CIP solutions allow operators to adjust time, temperature, and flow at will.
Today’s best configurable CIP solutions allow operators to adjust time, temperature, and flow at will. Such solutions also record all process parameters, collect information and recipe change history, and provide critical data to manufacturers, allowing them to generate insightful reports that help them remain compliant and competitive.
The purpose of a CIP system is to transfer water and cleaning solutions from separate holding tanks to perform cleaning throughout process equipment following the end of a production batch. Typically designed as a three- or four-tank system, cleaning is performed and controlled by a series of vessels, pumps, and instruments that are divided into independent CIP circuits. Each CIP circuit will have its own unique sequence of operations and cycle times.
There are several factors that ensure controlled sanitation and CIP effectiveness. Fundamentally, it depends on time, temperature, flow velocity, and solution concentration, as well as the path of the flow, which is typically the most difficult to configure. A robust configurable CIP solution is one that offers an intuitive interface and gives manufacturers the ability to configure and control each of these cleaning variables as they recognize opportunities for optimization. Add in electronic recordkeeping and historical records, and quality assurance is further enhanced with detailed performance data and trending information.
When seeking a CIP solution, consider the ease and flexibility of being able to configure the following areas.
Time, temp, and flow. Allows the operator to control when the step sequences will advance. A step can be held for a certain amount of time, for a specific temperature, a specific conductivity (chemical concentration), or until the operator manually advances the step.
Valve pulsing. Allows the operator to control when a valve is pulsed on and off during a wash. For example, an operator could choose a start time and an end time so as to configure a valve to pulse for 10 seconds every minute. Start and end times can be configured to accommodate the overlapping or staggering of several valves.
During wash. Provides visibility by highlighting the current path of the circuit as it is currently configured.
Steps. Shows the recipe steps as they are configured and allows operators to insert, delete, or edit steps as needed. When editing, operators access an interface that takes them to “Time Temp and Flow” or “Flow Plate Routing” so they can configure the exact devices that are active during each step. With maximum flexibility, operators can perform complete configurability right down to the individual devices—valves, pumps, proximity switches, temperature, and flow control, for example.
With maximum flexibility, operators can perform complete configurability right down to the individual devices…
Flow plate routing. Allows operator to select the path the flow should take. In this example, when the CIP solution reaches a flow plate, it traverses through the middle port. The ports on the outside branch to different areas of the facility (see diagram). Once the operator selects the path, there is a proximity switch in place to validate that the swing (the pipe that goes from the middle to the branches on the perimeter) is in the correct position. This is a requirement before the system can run and it prevents cleaning solution from flowing where it’s not intended to be should an operator incorrectly position the swing.
In this diagram, valve V5853 has been configured to turn on during the step based on its orange color. This means that solution will come from CIP (at left), through valve V5853, then through the flow plate to the port supplying TK 24, 25, 26. This is how the entire circuit is defined.
Of course, ensuring compliance with food safety regulations requires documentation. Therefore, the right CIP solution is one that can collect documented evidence of proper sanitization and also provide key insights into optimization opportunities. Some relevant reports that can be helpful include:
- Revision report: captures every activity (change) made for a specific revision of a wash cycle;
- Revision history: shows the history of all recipe versions for every wash;
- Operator activity report: shows activity on every system, including when washes were started, stopped, and reset; tracks system events, like alarms or operator comments that can be entered ad hoc at any time; and shows when operators step sequences forward or backward;
- Exceptions report: presents a record of exceptions/problems that occurred during wash cycles, including pump malfunctions, operator-initiated emergency stops, longer-than-normal time spent heating up to temperature, or any number of other alarm conditions; and
- Completed circuits report: provides a history of washes that occurred for each system, showing the circuits that were washed, when they were washed, the number of times an operator stepped forward or back in the sequence, or if the wash cycle was aborted (ended prematurely by the operator before the entire wash sequence could complete).
By leveraging user-configurable automation so as to enhance CIP, today’s manufacturers can reap many benefits. They include the ability to create flexible security control levels and recipe configurations without relying on engineering resources to implement the changes, obtain complete recipe traceability, gain detailed trending, reduce cleaning times, improve safety, log events and configurations, generate reports, and monitor performance over time using manufacturing information system tools.
In other words, with more control over CIP comes more productivity, lower costs, stronger compliance, greater self-reliance and added quality assurance.
Tertin, the director of manufacturing information solutions at ESE, Inc., is credited with developing ESE’s MIS solution suite and for expanding the adoption of MIS solutions within ESE’s customer base. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.