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  • Writer's pictureRobert Villarreal

Clean-In-Place (CIP) Cleaning and Sanitizing Processes in the Food and Beverage Industry

Introduction: Clean-In-Place (CIP) is a multi-step procedure used to clean and sanitize the wetted materials of various forms of equipment used in the food and beverage production process such as tanks, pipes, pumps, mixers, and other components without taking the system apart. This process can be automated using controllers and conductivity measurement. Various cleaning agents including fresh water, R.O. water, hot water, caustic, acid, and detergents are used in this process, each of which has inherent cost. In addition, the waste generated at the end of each CIP cycle often upsets the wastewater treatment system if not pre-treated properly consuming time, money and potentially resulting in environmental fines. Minimizing CIP waste not only saves money on production cost in terms of chemical use, but also helps to run the CIP system effectively. The end goal of any CIP process is to efficiently clean the fats, sugars and other organics from the production system components and sanitize for the next run.

General CIP Process
General CIP Process; Credit:

Continuous improvements in CIP: The CIP cleaning and sanitizing process utilized in the food and beverage industry has improved over the years from a simple manual control using observation to a PLC-controlled fully automated process using advanced instrumentation for measurement. The specificity and the degree of cleaning is based on specific process requirements and Federal government guidelines. The system piping design and other specialized equipment is also needed to provide maximum turbulence for required cleaning. In some cases, if the tank needs minimum cleaning, a static spray may be enough to achieve desired results. For a larger diameter tank or vessel, a dynamic spray nozzle with high energy flow might be required.

Automated CIP process: With the use of conductivity sensors and PLC logic, the CIP process can be fully automated. Automating the CIP process has several benefits such as avoiding unnecessary prolonged cleaning, producing consistent results, reduction of use of cleaning chemicals, increasing the production throughput. The conductivity of cleaning chemicals varies as its concentration changes during the cleaning process. Knowing the conductivity at the start of the process (time T0 ) and tracking the conductivity measurement with time to determine when original conductivity is attained determines when the cleaning fluid can be diverted back to storage preventing costly chemicals from going to waste. Similarly, when the rinse water is used to ensure removal of cleaning agents, the conductivity can indicate when the cycle is complete saving energy (in case of hot water rinse) and water. With the automated process each step in the CIP process is completed to required standards, so the next step can be seamlessly begun without additional waste in time, energy, or chemicals.

Advantages of the automated CIP process:

  • Avoid cross contamination between two products (chemical/food) increasing product safety

  • Save time and resources while increasing production throughput

  • Minimize the CIP cleaning agent waste

  • Save thermal energy by efficiently applying hot water rinse

The Sensor (Conductivity Measurement): KROHNE’s OPTISENS IND 8100 provides and inductive conductivity measuring system for food and beverage applications. PEEK wetted materials and automatic temperature compensation ensure long-term, stable measurement without manual intervention, greatly reducing operating costs. The conductivity sensors used in the CIP process are industry approved having a smooth surface that is easily cleaned and does not support bacterial growth. These sensors are inserted in the process via Tri-Clamps or other sanitary fittings.

The sensors are installed in such a manner that the tip of the sensor is immersed in the flowing liquid in the CIP process. Sensor selection is based on the cleaning chemical characteristics and the CIP protocols. The key to a long-term successful CIP process automation involves (a) correct sensor selection and (b) correct logic for PLCs.

Frontline TSG is happy to help with whatever CIP challenges you may face.

For more information, see the Application Note below or visit

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