Simply speaking, a clean-in-place system (CIP) for an automatic filling machine allows the product pathway in the machine to be cleaned without disassembly. The process allows for faster cleaning using less labor and can be beneficial to packagers for several different reasons.
Packagers with products that require a higher level of hygiene, such as Food & Beverage packagers and Pharmaceutical companies, may benefit from the CIP system's ability to assist in keeping the process hygienic. Other packagers that have multiple changeovers during the day due to flavors or colors or simply different products might rely on the quickness of the CIP system to aid in reducing changeover time and meeting production demands. Packagers with multiple products can also benefit from the CIP systems ability to avoid contamination of different products during the production day, again without the disassembly of the entire machine and the labor intensive manual cleaning. In summary, CIP systems may be used by many different packagers for a variety of different reasons.
So how do the CIP systems work? Automatic filling machines almost always include a touchscreen operator interface. Included on the different screens for the machine will be a CIP screen. All settings, including cycle number and times, for the cleaning process can be set on a single screen on the machine control panel. When ready to begin the cleaning process, the plumbing for the CIP system can take on different forms, depending on the needs of the company, and NPACK engineers and other packaging specialists will help determine the best plumbing solution. As a general rule, however, the product supply will be removed from the filling machine to allow the cleaning solution an inlet for the CIP cycles, or sprayballs are used to introduce the cleaning product and cycle the cleaner through the product pathway.
Once the cycle starts, a typical CIP system will flush the product pathway with water, cleaning solution or other desired liquid to remove debris or leftover product from pipes, tubing, nozzles and other components. Spray balls will normally be used to allow quick removal of product from tanks. Multiple settings are available that allow both a cleaning cycle and a rinse cycle, and CIP systems can also be built in as manual or semi-automatic systems as well as the completely automated systems.
To learn more about clean-in-place systems and liquid fillers in general, visit the filling machinery section of the NPACK website or call NPACK directly to speak with a Packaging Specialist!