In the food and beverage industry, competition is increasing. Margins are getting tighter. Raw material prices are surging.

Manufacturers are also facing rising freight, transportation, and packaging costs along with pandemic-related expenses. On top of that, sustainability targets are becoming ever-more demanding.

As a result, waste reduction and efficiency gains have become a necessity for many food and beverage companies.

That’s why liquid product recovery (“pigging”) technology is becoming an essential part of the food and beverage production process.

Pigging systems increase yields and cut waste
Pigging systems increase yields and cut waste

How Pigging Works

From sauces, nut butters, dips, ready meals and yogurts to sodas, juices, fine wines, and spirits, pigging systems are already in wide use in food and beverage production. 

Pigging is a cost-effective, reliable, and importantly, safe technology, which delivers major cost savings and tangible benefits. The return on investment from a pigging system is high and payback is extremely quick (usually just a few months).

A pigging system works by propelling a specialist projectile (the ‘pig’) through process pipelines to recover residual liquid that would otherwise go to waste.

In food and beverage production, pigging uses sanitary (hygienic) pigs, usually manufactured from materials that meets the requirements of FDA regulations.  The pigging process itself is extremely quick, highly effective, and easy to implement on both new and existing lines.

Increased Yields and Reduced Waste

Because pigging recovers residual liquid from the inside of process pipelines rather than wasting it, it’s an extremely effective way to increased yields.

The highest quality pigging systems reclaim upwards of 99.5% of residual product from a full pipeline. The recovered product is perfectly good, saleable product which can continue to be processed, bottled, canned, or stored.

In food and beverage processing plants, there’s often a lot of product left in the line before a changeover. So, by recovering this product, the yield increases from pigging are significant. For example, a soft drinks manufacturer implemented an HPS pigging system and is estimated to be saving $31,500 U.S. dollars’ worth of product per day. This is an extreme example but goes to show the level of savings that can be achieved. 

And by increasing yields by pigging, there is less waste, more efficiency, increased capacity, improved flexibility, better productivity, and ultimately higher profits.

The highest performing pigs typically recover upwards of 99.5% of residual product from full pipelines
The highest performing pigs typically recover upwards of 99.5% of residual product from full pipelines

Faster Changeovers and Increased Equipment Uptime

Most food and beverage processing plants are running multiple products per line per day. This includes varieties of the same products as well as completely different ones.

So, changeovers are a critical part of normal daily operations. Food and beverage companies need a quality solution to make sure changeovers are as quick and efficient as possible. 

Pigging systems can significantly speed up the changeover process. By removing nearly all the product from a pipeline before the cleaning, the cleaning process itself is a lot quicker and less resource intensive.  

Because there’s hardly any product left to remove, the requirement for flushing and CIP is significantly reduced, as are cycle times. 

And while pigging technology will not completely eliminate the CIP process, some stages can often be removed or considerably shortened. 

So, pigging speeds up changeover times, lowers water and CIP chemicals usage, and unlocks more productive (value-added) time for running production.

Improved Environmental Sustainability

Because pigging saves so much waste, water, energy, and CIP chemicals, it’s an effective way for food and beverage manufacturers to reduce their carbon footprint and improve environmental sustainability. 

The financial benefits are also significant as pigging saves on the direct cost of these products, along with their associated transportation and disposal costs. And these savings can again be considerable. 

For example, an HPS pigging system is saving a wine manufacturer approximately 40 million liters of water a year and wine savings of 40,000 liters. 

How to Select the Best Pigging System 

The principles of pigging, that is, sending a specialist projectile through a pipe to reclaim the residual liquid, may seem straightforward.

However, to design an effective and high-performance pigging system for food and beverage production, needs a wealth of experience and expertise. 

There’s a lot to take into account. Matching the correct pig dimensions to the internal pipeline diameter is critical. There are also major differences in the effectiveness and performance of different pigs and pigging systems.

That’s why, if you are thinking about implementing a pigging solution into your production plant, make sure you choose a system from a specialist in pigging and product recovery, with a long history, proven technology, reliable credentials, and a strong track record. 

benefits of pigging are significant
The benefits of pigging are significant

The Importance of a Good-Quality Pig

A pigging system is made up of a variety of components. However, one of the most important components is the pig. 

The highest performing pigs typically recover upwards of 99.5% of residual product from full pipelines, and tend to be of one-piece, cylindrical, flexible design.

Other key features to look out for when choosing a pig for food and beverages is reliability, safety and the materials used (food-grade, FDA compliant materials). Pigs with fins should also be avoided (due to product buildup between the fins, longer cleaning times and potential hygiene issues).

It’s also extremely important to choose a pig that doesn’t contain solid magnets. That’s because solid magnets can shatter or break free from the pig and contaminate the product. They are also a major safety concern.

Instead, the safest and most reliable pigs contain a flexible magnetic core.

Bring the Benefits of Pigging to Your Business

With intense competition and margins getting thinner, reducing waste, improving efficiency, and ensuring processes are environmentally sustainable is becoming essential. 

Pigging and liquid product recovery systems will help your business increase yields, increase capacity, cut waste, lower costs, speed up changeovers and be kinder to the environment.

In addition, pigging delivers a wide range of additional benefits. These included reduced cross-contamination risks, decreased labor costs, improved lot control, prevention of aeration and foaming plus much more.

HPS Product Recovery Solutions are the world’s leading specialists in process pigging, liquid product recovery and transfer solutions.

So, if you’re looking to increase yields, cut waste, and improve sustainability, it’s time to start pigging!