Maintaining Quality while reducing cycle times during the Clean in Place process

Mack Powers | July 1, 2021

Interview Transcript:

Mack Powers (00:07):
So Tom, it’s good having you again today. You and I have been talking about CIP design, where we’re helping our customers maintain a quality level. But we’re also sensitive to the fact that customers would like to reduce their production times and part of that is reducing their CIP cycle times. And you’ve got a lot of experience working with customers, helping them think through and reduce these cycle times. So I’d love to hear your thoughts about the types of things you’ve experienced in the industry and some of the insight that you can bring to the market, in terms of helping manufacturers bring down these cycle times while maintaining the quality of product.

Tom Whiteley (00:44):
Yeah. One of the biggest things we can do is get involved early, and it allows us to get some big hitters that are fairly cheap at that point. Integrated. One of the things that we love to do is we come in and we’ll look at your circuit layouts and make sure that they’re optimized, so we have the minimum number of actual required CIP cycles for each production run. We do that by making sure that we combine any possible equipment with the tanks and vessels that are cleaning so that each production run, you have the minimum number of cycles that actually have to be run so that it reduces the amount of time that you’re doing that, and can maximize the amount of time that you’re able to make product.

Mack Powers (01:28):
So Tom, one of the other things you and I talked about was, what is overhead when it comes to circuit design. And so help us to understand a little bit more about that and how that ties into some of our previous discussion.

Tom Whiteley (01:41):
So there’s obvious time that you have to have in a circuit, the contact times, your rinses, the things that we talked about in the four T’s video, but then there’s also less obvious time. Things like, everybody going out there and hooking up your jumpers, many manual manipulations that have to occur with valves, the heat up times, all of that is overhead. And if you have less circuits, then you spend less time doing that because each circuit you have, you set it up once instead of setting it up twice, then you have less time. If you heat the cost solution up once instead of twice, you’ve saved that 10, 20, 30 minutes of time.

Tom Whiteley (02:25):
A lot of times, if you combine a line circuit with a tank for example, the increase in time between just cleaning the tank, and cleaning the tank and line, is undetectable from just looking at the the times. And so you can literally completely cut out the time that that line circuit would’ve taken you to clean, which between setting it up and heating the chemicals up and everything else, might take you an hour or more every time you got to run it. So you can literally just cut that out of your time with just a little bit of pre-planning.

Mack Powers (03:02):
In working with some of your customers, have you been able to walk into existing process CIP systems and offer suggestions about how to reduce this overhead? And if so, as a general rule, are you able to get 5% efficiency, gain 20%? I know every situation’s different. Just love to hear what some of your thoughts are on the types of experiences you’ve had in that regard.

Tom Whiteley (03:25):
There’s a lot of these days of water efficiency projects, which you can also a lot of times save time and get the pay for the water efficiency project. Literally with increased production time, we’ve had a couple projects in the last couple years where we paid, the ROI was one to two years on just this water savings and the treatment savings and the time savings. Literally, they paid for the projects, the optimization, the validation, the code change, all of that with just not buying as much water and making more product across that time. So it can be very helpful. It can be a big impact, and the earlier we can get into the design and into the project, the cheaper the changes are, because if we can get to it before the piping’s laid and we’re still in the detail design phase where things can be flexible still, it’s a lot easier than going back and cutting into pipe and rearranging things and running new CIP returns and things like that.

Mack Powers (04:38):
That makes sense. So the goal is always to get it as early as possible in the design phase so that you can be coaching and guiding people through how to reduce these cycle times, how to keep the total time down so that manufacturers can do what they do, which is, manufacture products. Any other insights or thoughts that you have.

Tom Whiteley (04:57):
Yeah. Some of the things that we like to do when we get in early, we like to do things with their transfer panels, make sure that those are optimized, make sure that we’re not using different u-bins for CIP versus your SIP versus your process, so that you don’t have those going out to your COP washer. Minimize the number of jumpers that you need necessarily to set up and run the cycle. Also, we’ve got a lot of experience retrofitting transfer panels with the mix-proof valve rays or just valva rays in general diaphragm valves, so that you don’t have that intervention. You also minimize the risk of either product loss or CIP exposure to accidental exposure and accidental product loss due to user error or operator error.

Mack Powers (05:54):
So you just try to take the human factor out as much as you can through automation and through design. And that’s a critical thing for you.

Tom Whiteley (06:02):
It is. A well trained operator is very good at his job and it’s very repeatable, but we have had instances where we’ve been called in due to an EHS into the, and it’s been the instigation of a CAPEX project. And it really does pay for themselves. They’re faster. They’re very repeatable. It minimizes risk of exposure, of product loss. They tend to pay for themselves in the long haul.

Mack Powers (06:37):
Yeah, it makes sense. They’re cost-effective and they reduce the amount of potential risk to the people in the plant. Those are two very, very important factors that are the heartbeat of the industry. How do we improve those in those areas? Tom, these are great insights. I know, based on years of experience for working with clients and helping them solve these problems. So, thank you for your time today and thank you for sharing this information.

Tom Whiteley (07:02):
Yeah. It’s been good talking to you, Mack.