All There is to Know About Clean-In-Place (CIP)

The hygiene and cleanliness of a food or pharmaceutical manufacturing system are as important as the ingredients processed within it. Minor lapses in sanitary best practices can significantly affect both the brand and the consumer.

Many modern food and biopharmaceutical production systems are designed with a Clean-in-Place (CIP) system as an integral component in some - if not all - sections.

As well as being found in the food, beverage, and biopharmaceutical industries, CIP systems are also used in some production plants in the cosmetic and personal household care industries.

Irrespective of the industry in which it is used, the objective of a CIP system is the same: to provide the operator with a reliable and repeatable way to clean their processing plant with minimal downtime.

What Is a Clean-In-Place System?

In its simplest form, a CIP system delivers cleaning, rinsing, and sanitizing solutions to the interior contact surfaces of process mixers, piping vessels, blenders, fillers, fermenters, and other equipment within a processing system.

It will use much of the plant's plumbing due to its design; however, there will be a separate CIP tank with dedicated heat exchangers, valves, and its own sensors and control hardware. Tanks will also have spray balls to apply the cleaning solution to the entire interior surface.

Everything you need to know about Clean-In-Place (CIP)

Image Credit: Astro Pak Corporation

CIP technology has seen dramatic development since the 1950s when the first manually operated systems were used. The same principles are still used today to ensure reliable cleaning of the host system.

In 1959, Dr. Herbert Sinner created what is referred to as the Sinner's Circle. Dr. Sinner was a German chemical engineer who led the development of detergents for the West German chemical and consumer goods company, Henkel.

This circle divided the cleaning process into four components: chemistry, time, temperature, and mechanical action.

Dr. Sinner used his circle to describe the impact that using different amounts of each component could have on cleanliness. In a CIP system, the result is a custom-tailored chemistry concentration at a specific temperature that is circulated for a set period.

In this example, the mechanical action is the circulating cleaning solution's velocity and the pressure from any spray balls. Some systems use lower pressures and higher temperatures, while others use a high pressure flow to ensure proper cleaning.

The nature of the contamination and the plant's configuration are critical factors used to determine the proper method. Depending on the product and the operator, a CIP cleaning can be run when the production system is switching to a different product or run between batches.

Cleaning is typically comprised of both a pre-rinse, a heated chemical cleaning, an intermediate rinse, a final rinse, and a sanitizing rinse.

The Benefits of a CIP System

The most apparent advantages of integrating a CIP system into a processing plant are the repeatability of the cleaning process and the time saved by not needing to disassemble components for cleaning. Those two broad advantages translate into more specific ones:

  • Quality Assurance – Quality assurance is easier to maintain due to the reduction in contamination risk.
  • Process Consistency – No missed steps, no missed residue, no wrong combination of chemicals, etc.
  • Faster Turnaround Time – The production plant can return to making new products sooner.
  • Environmental and Employee Safety – Not only is there a reduced chance of a chemical spill because of the system's closed nature, but personnel are also not exposed to the chemicals.

A CIP system is a tool that assists in the maintenance of a system between scheduled shutdowns. Unplanned shutdowns can be prevented by implementing such a system.

What a CIP System Cannot Do

A Clean-in-Place system is designed to clean its host production system, just as its name suggests. Most CIP systems will experience challenges where rouge may be present.

There are various types and sources for the iron-based contaminant, each requiring unique chemical blends and processes to remediate. Commercially available chemicals are used in large quantities in CIP systems.

These chemicals have some superficial similarities to those used by high purity cleaning companies such as Astro Pak. Instead of being tailored to fit a specific cleaning challenge, these end-user chemicals are formulated to work for an "average" application for many industries.

In addition, a derouging service will often have to go where the CIP components do not. A proper derouging treatment will not be limited to using the CIP system. In this way, the contamination can be removed more thoroughly and swiftly.

While useful when a system requires maintenance cleaning, CIP is not the proper startup process when commissioning a new system. In this example, the residue left from its construction, un-passivated welds, and even surface damage from mechanical cleaning must all be addressed if the purity of the product is to be ensured from the offset.

Electropolishing or passivation of the welds may be required, and the same applies to any mechanically polished surfaces to ensure a clean system. CIP flow paths and velocities typically do not sufficiently flush out all construction debris especially metallic shavings that will corrode the system prematurely.

By using the CIP system's plumbing in addition to temporary pumps and lines, the system can be properly cleaned and ready for use by a high purity chemical cleaning provider.

When it comes to expanding a facility, using an Astro Pak team with its self-contained setup mitigates the need to divert resources from operations servicing existing systems. Astro Pak's teams use state-of-the-art skids with high-velocity flow rates to perform a deeper, more thorough clean than is possible by using a CIP system.

During the rinse cycle, the skids' filtration systems capture particulate matter to prevent recontamination. These skids can simultaneously process several systems to maximize chemistry and resources while reducing downtime.

Another process that is key to keeping a stainless steel production unit operating smoothly is passivation. This is the process of restoring and maintaining the steel's non-chemically reactive, passive layer, such that it does not affect nor is affected by the material making contact with it.

This requirement for passivation also applies to the CIP system itself. CIP systems are almost exclusively made up of stainless steel. As they are embedded within the processing system, the components of the CIP system are subjected to the same conditions as the surrounding system.

Passivation of the CIP parts frequently requires manual application of gels and other passivating chemistry so that no areas go untreated. Astro Pak's UltraPass® passivation can also achieve a chrome-to-iron ratio unmatched in the industry, providing the surface of stainless steel the most optimal passive layer.

The majority of the cleaning and passivation chemical blends used by Astro Pak are biodegradable, so the safety of personnel and the environment is ensured.

CIP Gone Awry

While the automated CIP process is beneficial, it is not a single setup process. CIP modifications are required corresponding to product or system changes to maintain efficacy. A poorly engineered design can also result in premature corrosion and damage the system and equipment it was designed to protect.

Everything you need to know about Clean-In-Place (CIP)

Image Credit: Astro Pak Corporation

In one case, Astro Pak's experts determined that the spray balls had caused damage to the stainless steel in some tanks. The holes in the balls were too small, resulting in the cleaning solution spraying out at a higher pressure and physically wearing away the passive layer and pitting the metal underneath.

This damage persisted for a long time due to the closed nature of the cleaning process, which made visual inspections difficult and time-consuming.

Unlike the facility's on-site crew, who misidentified the damage as discoloration from use, Astro Pak was able to identify the problem swiftly and recommend a modification, meaning that the facility did not have to waste production batches and time on a repair.

CIP Is Just One Step

CIP is a process that supports the reliable, continual operation of the plant and helps ensure product purity. It is just one procedure out of a more comprehensive plan, which should treat derouging as a critical part.

In some cases, bioburden remediation may need to be performed regularly. The use of a CIP system alongside routine chemical cleaning, derouging and passivation services together create a multi-layered approach to preserving the function and integrity of the system.

Acknowledgments

Produced from materials originally published by Jordan Schaecher, Regional Technical Sales Manager, Astro Pak.

About Astro Pak Corporation

Astro Pak is the leader in providing Passivation, Precision Cleaning and High-Purity Chemical Cleaning services for a wide variety of “cleanliness sensitive” critical systems and components. Many of our customers have external agencies that drive their cleaning requirements, such as the FDA, NASA and others. We service such industries as Pharmaceutical, Biotechnology, Aerospace, Laser, Semiconductor, Water Treatment and more, including Industrial markets. Our services and products leverage decades of experience to deliver the most effective chemistries and techniques, resulting in increased equipment longevity, reduced corrosion-related downtime and regulatory compliance in client facilities.


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Last updated: Nov 15, 2022 at 10:25 AM

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