Sensors & Transducers

Automated clean-in-place

February 2024 Sensors & Transducers

A clean-in-place (CIP) process is integral to a food and beverage producer’s responsibility to deliver safe, high-quality products to consumers. However, as industries worldwide shift focus towards sustainability, CIP procedures face new challenges. Achieving cleaner, greener, and smarter CIP operations demands innovative solutions that minimise resource consumption and waste, while maintaining impeccable hygiene standards.

One of the major challenges lies in optimising the use of water and cleaning agents to reduce environmental impact, while adhering to stringent hygiene requirements. Implementing smarter technologies such as automated monitoring and control systems can minimise energy consumption and ensure efficient cleaning cycles. Sustainability-focused CIP also involves proper disposal or recycling of wastewater and chemicals.

The goals of ‘cleaner, greener, smarter’ CIP are closely intertwined with food safety and product quality. Implementing sustainable CIP practices means the potential risk of cross-contamination and bacterial growth is minimised. This reduces the risk of food-borne pathogens and ensures food safety. Food safety regulations and standards such as hazard analysis and critical control points (HACCP) require strict adherence to hygiene and sanitation practices.

Endress+Hauser understands the challenge of finding the right balance between plant efficiency and product quality.

Focus on critical control parameters

First and foremost, it is essential to choose the appropriate type of chemistry based on the specific type of soil or product residue that needs to be removed.

To ensure optimal performance, four key parameters play a crucial role: chemical activity, temperature, mechanical action, and time. The installation of inline instruments provides real-time monitoring and control of these critical process points, leading to reduced cleaning time, energy and chemical consumption, while contributing to a more sustainable CIP.

The chemical concentration can be measured with conductivity, but it is crucial to measure it in both the make-up tank and on the return line. This is essential to guarantee that the entire circulation loop is maintained at the right concentration, without any dilution occurring in the system.

It is crucial for the flow velocity to be high enough to provide turbulent flow and mechanical action. To ensure the efficacy of the chemical, it must be in direct contact with the soil or product residue. Laminar flow, however, does not provide sufficient interaction between the soil and the chemical. If product residues are not removed effectively, it can negatively impact the next production run and cause soil build-up in the system. This could also lead to the proliferation of micro-organisms, and ultimately develop into biofilm.

In every CIP system, there are areas that are difficult to clean because pipe runs are not always straight, and spray ball reach is not always ideal. To determine and improve overall cleaning efficiency, cleaning behaviour at these areas must be monitored. Manufacturers often try to attain increased process reliability by employing longer cleaning cycles. However, they risk wasting cleaning detergent, which increases waste and energy costs. It is also difficult to ascertain whether the product residues have been removed completely.

Exploring the versatility of automated CIP

The compact multi-parameter Liquitrend QMW43 from Endress+Hauser offers new possibilities to optimise cleaning time. The device is installed at critical points in the system, where it verifies the cleaning status and thus provides information about the cleaning efficiency. Liquitrend QMW43 measures the build-up thickness on the sensor. Contamination on the sensor surface is continuously monitored before, during and after the cleaning process. Due to the flush-mounted installation, the sensor represents the surrounding conditions in the pipe or tank.

Evaluating the conductivity measurement means conclusions can be drawn about the type of build-up, i.e., whether the residue comes from the product or detergent. In this way, the Liquitrend QMW43 assists the plant operator in determining the cause of contamination. If the sensor no longer shows any build-up or conductivity, cleaning of the critical point can be considered effective. This allows optimisation of the cleaning process according to the actual conditions of the tank or pipe, realising time and cost savings. The Liquitrend QMW43 can therefore increase plant efficiency by reducing the time required for cleaning or by extending the available time for production runs before a CIP.

By embracing sustainability in their CIP operations, producers can meet their obligations to both consumers and the planet. In an era where consumers are increasingly concerned about the environmental and ethical practices of companies, sustainable CIP can enhance a producer’s reputation and build trust with customers who value environmentally responsible brands.


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