This CIP system provides automated cleaning to a bakery oven.

This CIP system provides automated cleaning to a bakery oven. Source: JBT Food Tech.

Automated CIP saves water and energy while helping to meet quality and regulatory demands.

For food processors, clean up costs money and consumes valuable production time. Where feasible, a clean-in-place (CIP) or an automated CIP system not only improves efficiency, but also provides several other benefits.

Eliminating pathogens and preventing cross-contamination of allergens are two good reasons to have an effective CIP system. Increasing production time and decreasing water usage are two good reasons to automate the CIP system with the appropriate controls and sensors. An automated CIP system, which is part of the process control system, schedules CIP at the proper time in the batch and sets the timing and chemical usage based on product being made. Just like the process control system, an automated CIP system saves vital data (e.g., wash/rinse times, temperatures, pH) to fine-tune the process or retrieve the data for regulatory reasons.

While there have not been any giant technology leaps in automating clean-in-place systems, there has been a steady evolution to automate the cleaning process as much as possible, not only for the reasons already stated here, but to decrease labor as well. Retrofitting an existing plant can be tricky, but designing and building a new plant without automated CIP systems doesn’t make sense.

StockPot’s new soup plant (see page 40) in Everett, WA uses automated CIP systems in its dairy handling system, ingredient lines, several kettles and the piping that carries soup to the filling lines. According to Scott Swanson, StockPot senior manager of technology support, the automated CIP system takes over right after the cooking and transfer processes are completed. “There’s an acknowledgement screen directed to the cook, who verifies the production process has finished, and then the system automatically goes into the cleaning process. It cleans the kettle, transfer lines and ingredient lines,” says Swanson.

The CIP system logs vital parameters such as temperature and pH of the cleaning solutions. “If anything is out of whack, an alarm pops up on the screen, which forces the operator to address the issue, and someone can investigate the problem,” says Swanson. “We also keep all the [CIP] records because we need to validate our CIP process,” he adds.

Two types of process displays at SAB’s Alrode Brewery: In the top screen, the top half showing CIP functionality is confusing and doesn’t include a total view of the process. In the lower screen, a common function structure creates understanding out of the confusion in the first screen. Source: Wonderware

Reduce clean-up time, increase production

With current economic conditions and energy costs, the need to increase production while reducing clean-up times is mandatory. Swanson says StockPot has two overlapping 10-hour production shifts and a third shift for sanitation.

Steve Hughes, COO of Lyco Manufacturing, feels the time crunch as a machine supplier. “US customers have a tendency to run a production line for an 18 or 20 hour day, then shut it down for a clean-up cycle.” Hughes has several European customers, and they usually have a different set of demands. “In Europe, we see more, smaller runs of maybe an hour or so of one product, then a clean-up cycle before proceeding to another product,” he says. To satisfy the demand of cutting three-to-four hour clean-up times in half for a pasta cooker/cooler required some retooling, which resulted in Lyco’s Clean-Flow product line. Ridding the machine of the starch requires the right detergents at the right temperature and velocity plus judicious placement of cleaning nozzles, spray headers and spray balls. Hughes says the level of sophistication for controls varies according to customer. Lyco provides PLCs with recipe control, along with sanitizing and cleaning for those who need the automation.

Why automate?

The reasons to automate CIP are many. According to Rockwell Automation Industry Marketing Manager Charley Rastle, product safety is a major reason, and the way to promote product safety is to be able to show a processor’s good manufacturing practices (GMPs) or standard operating procedures have been followed with respect to cleaning times and cleaning fluid temperatures, velocities and pH. “If you automate it,” says Rastle, “the cleaning procedure will proceed per specification.” Rastle says another benefit to automating is the collection of key data for CIP cycles. Data collection lets processors fine-tune their cleaning process. But more important, says Rastle, processors are expected to demonstrate product quality to their customers by showing proof that the line was cleaned according to the proper procedure.

“What I’ve noticed is that some of the risk of not cleaning properly and potential co-mingling of chemicals with food products are driving processors not just to do control upgrades, but also process upgrades centered around the installation of mix-proof valves,” says Matt Ruth, director of the food and beverage group at Avanceon. Ruth says processors want to extend their production and run time, and one way to accomplish this is to be able to clean and process in parallel while running product.

Mix-proof valves are not new, but processors are discovering their advantages, says Steve Cook, consultant, Cook Process Solutions, LLC. Running the CIP solution through the same valve as product or ingredients results in a significant time and labor savings during changeovers, many of which require a full CIP procedure between allergen-containing products.

Often an integrated CIP/process control system is easier to implement in a greenfield than a brownfield facility because all the systems and components can be specified and ordered at the same time. Rastle has seen some processors that would like to implement an automated CIP system in existing facilities, but they don’t have the right equipment in place-such as pumps and mix-proof valves. “If the processor has manual valves,” says Rastle, “the cost of replacing them with automated, food-grade valves can stop the project.”

According to Mike Murdaugh, process engineer, A&B Process Systems, while the cost of new equipment may not be an issue for upgrading a brownfield facility, “doing things the old way” is a stumbling block for some processors. Murdaugh has visited plants where the staff told him they ripped out all the valves and put in transfer panels 30 years ago, and the 30-year-old panels are still in use and work fine. Adds Murdaugh, “They’re too used to the shutdown crew with 40 people at night doing the COP/CIP, and they don’t want to change.”

While not a closed-loop CIP system, this PLC-based Automated RFS CIP system works with a filler and carefully meters cleaning solutions and wash/rinse times. Source: Sani-Matic.

Automate, but integrate

According to Chris Brink, food processing business development manager, JohnsonDiversey, processors are asking, “What can we do about the time/cost of CIP?” and “How can we reduce our drain on environmental resources?” In answering the first question, Brink says, “CIP cost reduction is centered around reuse/recover technologies and better phase monitoring and recording of the process. The goal is to use less water and soap to produce the same cleaning results.” These goals, says Brink, require the added use of equipment, automation and fluid monitoring instruments that eliminate much of the guesswork and manual intervention of a CIP process.

Rastle says automated CIP allows processors to increase overall product throughput because the time spent in CIP is less. If the timing is set for 45 minutes, it will go for 45 minutes because the system will not be waiting for human intervention such as opening or closing valves. Thus, cycle time is compressed and productivity increases, improving overall equipment effectiveness (OEE).

Referring to the second sustainability question, Christian Kniess, processing/plant integration, Tetra Pak, says it’s only through completely automating the CIP operation with closed-loop controls that a system can save detergents, water and energy. This includes closing the loop with sensors for pH (conductivity), temperature and flow velocity and using a PLC to control pumps, valve actuators and fluid temperature. With this level of control, processors can optimize CIP parameters based on length of the production run, type of food and other production parameters. An intelligent, automated CIP system will adjust cleaning time based on the production run and will shorten cleaning cycles and use less water and fewer chemicals as well.

According to Rick Nelson, director, food and beverage engineering at Ecolab, most systems suppliers agree that while automated CIP has not had any revolutionary developments, sensor technology is where the action is. Sensors now have digital outputs and report degradation and failures, and their programmability allows them to be integrated into full-blown automated CIP systems.

The other major improvement in sensor technology, according to Mark Lampert, Banner Engineering business development manager, is the sensors’ ability to withstand harsh CIP chemicals and meet sanitary standards like 3-A, as well as standards like IP69K.

Closing the loop

If closed-loop controls are used, then it makes sense to use a closed-loop CIP system as well. Ramesh Gunawardena, manager of technology & process development, JBT FoodTech, defines a closed-loop CIP system “as one that uses a re-circulating CIP fluid for cleaning food machine surfaces as opposed to a single-pass washdown.” Gunawardena says this closed-loop approach is typically used with larger machines that have enclosed designs such as food processing ovens.

“The rationale for adopting closed loop CIP,” says Gunawardena, “involves an economic choice between a single-pass application of CIP solution vs. a re-circulating fluid CIP system. The latter has higher initial cost with potential water and chemical savings to justify this cost.” Gunawardena adds, closed-loop CIP systems also provide opportunities for the design of programmable, process-specific CIP solutions.

Closed-loop CIP systems have been used successfully in the dairy and beverage industries for many years, says Nelson. This is driven by the sanitary design requirements of these markets and equipment.

“Some processes are not designed for closed-loop CIP,” says Nelson, “and in those applications, we have been successful using boosted pressure rinsing, foaming and sanitizing. These processes also lend themselves to automated surface cleaning (ASC) applications where we have successfully automated equipment that was previously manually cleaned with hoses.”

Gabe Miller, business development manager at Sani-Matic, says an automated RFS (rinse/foam/sterilize) system, while not closed-loop, is a single-pass system that can be very efficient in applications such as inside and outside CIP fluid fillers, conveyor lines, robotic pick-and-place systems and cereal processing equipment. These PLC-based systems save cleaning time and labor while providing consistent water flow and accurate chemical concentration plus saving energy.

Designing the process

While it may not be so easy to retrofit an existing process for automated CIP, there is no reason not to architect a new facility or process right the first time. “New process equipment must be designed with cleaning and sanitizing in mind up front to implement CIP in the design stage, not after it is installed,” says Miller. By designing the process equipment with a detailed definition of the cleaning process, the system can reduce water, steam, energy and chemical consumption, while reducing cleaning time and improving cleaning performance.

“It’s not well understood that CIP is part of production,” says Kniess. Time and time again Kniess has seen processors buy their production equipment from a quality vendor and then buy the CIP system from somewhere else because it can be done by a cheaper machine shop located around the corner. Processors need to have a full understanding of the production system and all the parameters involved, he states.

Murdaugh warns, “Don’t ever separate cleaning from the process. I have customers that hire an engineering firm to develop the process system and another firm to do the cleaning.” When one designer knows how to process and the other how to clean, the food processor may face some challenges in getting an integrated system. Murdaugh thinks of it this way: When designing a new process line, remember that first it cleans, then it processes.

He says when the two systems aren’t integrated, off-spec food may result. In the cheese or wine industry, an improperly cleaned process system could result in inconsistent product or a product contaminated with cleaning fluids. When fermentation is at the heart of production, an ineffective cleaning process could alter the fermentation such that it might not ruin the product, but would alter the taste and character of the product.

It pays to automate CIP whenever possible, but manufacturers need to make sure these systems are integrated with other processes in the plant and that all processes come together in a single point of view on HMI control screens. Better sensors, tighter control and the potential use of ozone in some applications promise to increase production time while reducing cleaning time, thus decreasing the amount of water and chemicals needed and lowering energy costs as well. 

For more information:
Steve Hughes, Lyco Manufacturing, 920-623-4152
Charley Rastle, Rockwell Automation, 303-517-8914,
Matt Ruth, 610-458-8700 ext. 274,
Steve Cook, Cook Process Solutions LLC, 417-860-7581,
Michael Murdaugh, A&B Process Systems, 715-687-4332,
Chris Brink, JohnsonDiversey, 513-554-4200,
Christian Kniess, Tetra Pak, 909-985-9104,
Ramesh Gunawardena, JBT FoodTech, 419-627-4315,
Rick Nelson, Ecolab, 815-389-0669,
Gabe Miller, Sani-Matic, 608-226-8573,
Hossein Zarrin, MKS Instruments, 303-449-9861,
Jim Jackson, Mazzei Injector Company, 480-247-2305,
Albert Canut, Ainia, 34 961 366 090,
Mark Lampert, Banner Engineering, 763-544-3164,

This schematic of the OzoneCIP pilot plant shows main subsystems and the CIP flow sheet. Source: Albert Canut for OzoneCIP.

Ozone and CIP

Much has been said about the efficacy of ozone as a sanitizer in CIP applications. Hossein Zarrin, program manager at MKS Instruments, believes ozone is the future of CIP. Used in water purification since the late 1800s, ozone is a green chemical, it’s environmentally friendly, and you don’t need a special disposal system-it just breaks down into oxygen. As it does, its oxidation potential makes it a good source for killing pathogens, molds, yeasts and thermophillic microorganisms. Zarrin says the use of ozonated water reduces water usage in CIP rinses and can be run at cooler temperatures (50-60