January 19, 2018
Sanitary Automation Controls: The Brains of Your Operation
Sanitary automation controls are at the heart, and brain, of repeatable and customizable cleaning solutions. Without automation, food and beverage processing equipment must be cleaned manually, which is time-consuming, labor intensive and non-repeatable.
By automating a cleaning process to meet the requirements of each individual manufacturing process, operation engineers can be confident their process equipment and parts will be thoroughly cleaned—with just a touch of a button.
Making your process cleaning systems smarter
Mark Espland, automation manager, and Sid Manthe, senior electrical project engineer, are two senior members of Sani-Matic’s seven-person automation engineering team. They met to discuss the importance of automation in sanitary process cleaning solutions.
“Every day our customers are challenged to increase production by decreasing cleaning time, while also being asked to meet expanding sanitary regulations,” said Espland. “That is why we work hard to make sanitary process cleaning systems smarter.”
Espland summarized the top benefits of making a cleaning system more intelligent.
Top benefits of implementing a smarter process cleaning system
- Intuitive. For straightforward cleaning operations, clear and simple instructions are displayed on a Human Machine Interface (HMI) and include images such as a Piping & Instrumentation Diagram (P&ID). A P&ID shows the current stage of the cleaning process and helps facility operators perform their cleaning operations without significant training requirements.
- Flexibility. Sani-Matic’s sanitary automation controls are programmed to meet each customer’s individual application, while also accommodating process changes.
- Repeatability. Automation ensures the cleaning principles of TACT (Time, Action, Chemical, Temperature) are being adhered to for repeatable, sanitary results.
- Productivity. Automation minimizes the time needed to clean, increasing production uptime. It also increases operator capacity allowing for better human asset utilization.
- Documentation/Records. Recording the results of TACT via printers, chart recorders or SaniTrend, Sani-Matic’s data acquisition program, captures historical data to help meet sanitary requirements and ensure a complete clean.
- Operator safety. Automation eliminates the operational hazards of manual cleaning.
Programming intuition into sanitary automation controls
Depending on the system’s Programmable Logic Controller (PLC), there may be as many as 40 different base recipes that are open coded. The PLC continuously monitors the state of input devices (temperature transmitters, conductivity analyzers, flow meters, level sensors, etc.) and makes decisions based on a custom program to control output devices.
To make the system easy for operators to understand and use, an intuitive touchscreen HMI displays an easy-to-navigate menu containing start and stop controls, alarms, editing controls based on approved security credentials and a P&ID indicating the cleaning stages.
“Take CIP systems, for example,” said Manthe. “There are unlimited functional configurations. We try to differentiate ourselves by how we make them function. How intuitive we can make it. The easier it is for the operators, the less stress it puts on their supervisors and management because it allows them to handle routine issues that might pop up.”
Flexibility is key
The programmed operation codes and recipes reflect the steps required for each process. They define which devices, such as valves or pumps, will be turned on during that step along with the required set points to clean a piece of equipment or part.
Although the recipes are developed for a specific process, they can accommodate future process changes. If a facility expands or adds a new process line, Sani-Matic’s systems have the operation codes in place to easily add or change a recipe.
“Beverage manufacturing plants are a good example of processes requiring flexibility,” said Espland. “For example, carbonated soft drink syrup tanks need to be cleaned at a minimum temperature based on the specific chemical being used. But, if you also want to bottle water using those tanks and lines, you need to sanitize them without using chemical. You can add in the hot sanitize operation, which will recirculate fresh water at a 180 ⁰F or higher for 15 minutes to sanitize process equipment sources. The system can come pre-loaded with a hot sanitize recipe to be used down the road.”
“In the end, our customers’ goal is to increase production, while ensuring the process remains sanitary,” stated Espland. “That is why our goal is to make cleaning efficient, easy and repeatable.”