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CIP cleaning in food production enterprises

In the 21st century, in the food industry, manual cleaning with the dismantling of the production line, if possible, is replaced by CIP cleaning. English abbreviation expansion - is Cleaning In Place or "cleaning at the place where it is installed". The washing solution circulates inside the equipment: in pipelines with stop valves, tanks.
Abbreviation SIP is also used - short for the phrase Sterilization In Place. Translated into Russian - "sterilization  at the place where it is installed". This is the cleaning of the internal surfaces of equipment using disinfectant solutions to achieve not only physical and chemical, but also bacteriological purity, which is especially important in food production. In fact, SIPs are CIP systems that have the possibility of sterilization.

Advantages of CIP cleaning

The bacteriological safety of a food product is as important as its taste. Legislators impose strict sanitary requirements, and their violation leads to three groups of trouble for the manufacturer:
  1. Commercial — losses from product returns to the warehouse, fines.
  2. Legal — administrative suspension of activities, legal claims.
  3. Reputational — breach of relations with customers.

Therefore, it is impossible to get away without equipment cleaning in food production. Although this process does not generate profit itself. Any equipment cleaning is a forced downtime, and the manufacturer is interested in reducing its time without compromising the quality of the product.
The use of automated or semi-automated CIP stations instead of manual cleaning with equipment dismantling allows to:
  • reduce downtime and decrease product cost;
  • achieve physical and bacteriological purity;
  • maximum control the cleaning process without personal participation;
  • reduce manual actions to avoid the influence of the human factor.

In order to turn these advantages to become real from theoretical ones, it is necessary to choose the right CIP station. And to understand how it works

Types and application of CIP stations

CIP system consists of three parts:
  • CIP station;
  • distribution lines;
  • cleaning objects.

In fact, there are only two types of СIP systems: centralized and decentralized.

The first type is most effective in small food production enterprises, where the distance between the station and the cleaning objects is small. Centralized systems are also common in those plants where all CIP operations are performed from a single location. It houses one CIP station or a group of them, and from there detergents are delivered to various washing objects.

Decentralized CIP systems are more common in large establishments where distances from the central CIP station to cleaning objects can be very long. This type of equipment uses several distributed CIP stations located next to the cleaning objects.

In food production, several CIP stations are often needed, depending on the cleaning objects. The cleaning process is different for cold or hot surfaces. It is also desirable to separate CIP equipment for raw products from pasteurized product lines to avoid the spread of surviving spores and bacteria.

CIP stations are applicable to almost all process systems in the beverage, brewing, confectionery and dairy industries. They can even be used to clean special equipment such as separators and pasteurizers. There are stationary stations and mobile CIP equipment.

Equipment CIP-cleaning operation principle

The CIP process is shown by Herbert Sinners' diagram. It shows four parameters that affect the quality of equipment cleaning:
  • mechanical force;
  • chemical exposure;
  • temperature;
  • time.

The four parameters are interconnected and influence each other. If anyone changes in the CIP cleaning scheme, this is compensated by the other three.
The mechanical effect on the surface to be cleaned in the CIP system is achieved due to the work of shear forces caused by liquid pressure. The water flow velocity must be greater than 1.5 m/s to create sufficient turbulence and achieve the desired result.

Chemical exposure in the CIP station is used to remove product particles from the inside of the process system. This is Sterilization In Place. To achieve cleanliness, the chemical exposure must be combined with the mechanical force: the correct concentration of the detergent solution plus flow jet force.

CIP stations use:
  • to remove organic contaminants (fat, food particles) - 2% alkaline solutions of potassium hydroxide KOH or caustic soda NaOH;
  • mineral deposits (soot, limescale deposits) - various acids in a concentration of 0.5-2%

Chemicals in the CIP circuit must be dosed correctly. Their concentration directly affects the cleaning process. Deficiency of "chemistry" will be a waste of money and increase water consumption, cleaning time. A high concentration of acid or alkali can damage equipment, harm people's health.

The third parameter is the thermal effect. Molecules move faster as the temperature rises, so heat increases the effectiveness of detergents. But uncontrolled thermal exposure is unsafe. Therefore, temperature sensors installation in the CIP station is obligatory.

The fourth important parameter is the time of mechanical, chemical and thermal forces exposure. Of course, the line will be cleared anyway. But the wrong choice of flow rate, temperature and concentration of "chemistry" will increase the duration of the process, and, therefore, downtime.

CIP-station cleaning modes


The production process within the normal cycle, for example, between batches of the product, is completed by squeezing out the remaining product with water. Then, as a rule, a CIP cleaning of equipment is applied . The procedure consists of 4-5 steps.
1. Pre-rinse with water. The liquid may be cold or hot, depending on the product.
2. Purification using alkaline concentrates. At this stage, organic contaminants are removed from the equipment. Alkali concentration and temperature values ​​are brought to the required set point. The water flow is maintained at the right level for a satisfactory flow rate.
3. Rinse with water. Alkaline solution and organic residues are removed from the circuit.
4. Acid detergent circulation. This step is used if you need to remove mineral deposits, such as milkstone or beer stone. The frequency of the acid cycle application depends on the production technology:
  • type of product;
  • quality of water;
  • working surface temperature (hot or cold production).

Acid concentration, water consumption and temperatures are maintained at the set values for the set time.

5. Final rinse with water. Acid solution and dissolved contaminants must be removed for food safety. As a result of flushing, only clean water should remain in the line.

The correct scheme of the CIP station operation guarantees not only external cleanliness, but also the removal of dangerous microorganisms. After CIP, the food line is ready for further use.

For the effectiveness of a CIP station, such technical and processing characteristics as the circuit and circulation volume are important. The greater the distance between the equipment and the station itself, the greater the loss of water, cleaning solutions and electricity. A circulation volume of 500-1000 litres is considered acceptable.

Choice of CIP station

Improving of CIP systems performance is achieved by controlling the four main cleaning parameters and optimizing their overall balance. After all, each of these components has its own cost, which affects the final price of the product.

Consider three key factors when buying a CIP station:
  1. Efficiency. Let's repeat that any equipment cleaning is a production line downtime. At the same time, the costs of CIP should be comparable to the effect of its use.
  2. Safety. CIP cleaning uses strong chemicals combined with elevated temperatures. They can harm personnel and equipment.
  3. Environmental friendliness. This is not only minimizing the consumption of resources and detergents, but also the possibility of their reuse.

There are models of SIP stations where water and concentrates can be used several times. They have a recovery tank.

Consequences of mistakes when buying and installing a CIP station

In practice, when selecting equipment, you can buy the wrong thing in the wrong place, or install it incorrectly. These three mistakes often lead to trouble for all production process participants.
The owner runs the risk of buying a CIP station, which simply does not fit the conditions of his production. Or choose an unreliable seller who will not be able to help with the warranty and components in the future.

A CIP station without a clear instruction manual or if installed incorrectly will become a pain in the neck for the chief engineer:
  • hydraulic impact;
  • breakdowns;
  • impossibility to carry out full maintenance.

The plant-operating engineer will face accidents, splashing of cleaning solution, conflicts in the cleaning schedule of different equipment. He will not notice the advantages of automation, because he will have to personally control the entire process.

Station installation without considering the production conditions will create problems for the quality specialist. He may face the presence of dead zones on the line, the impossibility of sampling.

Such problems can be avoided if a reliable engineering company is involved in the selection of equipment. The owner of the food production enterprise will save more on minimizing risks than he will pay for her services.

Benefits of engineering when purchasing a CIP station

At the stage of technical solution choosing specialists will design and install equipment taking into account the current conditions of food production. To do this, they use 3D station circuit modeling and 3D scanning of the existing premises. Among other things, technologies allow to integrate the CIP station with existing equipment.
3D modeling will help to work out the issues of future design, safety and reliability of the station. At this stage the degree of automation is also specified. The client can receive:
  • the possibility of remote control of cleaning parameters and automatic data collection;
  • ergonomics of operation;
  • automated dosing of cleaning solution to reduce the risk of human error;
  • notification system about accidents and deviations in the cleaning process, including via e-mail;
  • CIP time management;
  • monitoring of water, electric and heat energy consumption;
  • safety shower.

During operation 24/7 remote engineering support helps to solve emerging problems quickly, optimize the cleaning process to save energy and water.

Engineering companies carry out warranty service. Another plus from working with them is savings on components. Often such firms have discounts on spare parts from manufacturers from 15% to 30%.

Engineering in CIP cleaning is the stability and quality of the process. Ultimately, it is food safety.
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