Technology to deep clean hard to reach infrastructure

Nicola Brittain

This automated system provides error-free cleaning of tubular food conveyors.

To promote food safety and sanitary compliance, processors are increasingly seeking the ability to Clean-in-Place (CIP), an automated method of cleaning the interior surfaces of tubular drag conveyors without disassembly. Now, with the advent of mobile tools like an innovative ‘smart cart’ that quick-connects to any tubular conveyor and enables simple, customisable ‘single button cleaning recipes,’ CIP is becoming faster, less laborious and more repeatable.

Tubular drag conveyor systems gently move product through a sealed, enclosed tube using a drag cable and circular discs pulled through on a loop, so are ideal for delicate items. In a wet CIP process, the system is flooded with water, flushed, rinsed, cleansed, and thoroughly sanitised. The process thoroughly flushes out any potential allergens like nuts or gluten from conveying equipment and can be used with a variety of food types such as nuts, grains, cereals, powdered soups, and frozen fruits and vegetables.

Although the CIP process is very effective, streamlining its automation and simplifying the process for all of a facility’s tubular drag conveyors has been a priority for leading innovators in the industry.

To simplify the wet cleaning process, the engineering team at Cablevey has developed a small, mobile ‘smart cart’ with integrated water line hookups that a single technician can easily take to any tubular drag conveyor in a facility.


John Adair, engineering and quality director for Cablevey Conveyors, an Oskaloosa, Iowa-based conveyor manufacturer explains: “Once it is set up, all you do is press a button and the system brings in the required amount of water at the correct temperature with the necessary amount of solvent for cleaning.”

The use of easily executable recipes ensures a repeatable clean that essentially ‘error proofs’ the process. This is particularly important when the technician is new or less familiar with the production equipment.

“Depending on the product being conveyed, sometimes all you need is a wet rinse, or a specific cleaning solvent. All that information is saved, so after the first cleaning, it can be automatically repeated. Just push a button to start the appropriate recipe, whether you have one conveyor running multiple products, or dozens of conveyors running various products,” says Adair.

CIP information is documented

To facilitate food safety compliance the smart cart also documents all critical CIP information such as water volume, temperature, chemicals used, and cleaning time by date in an easily retrievable data log.

Since decreasing production downtime between conveyor cleanings is a priority for food processors, Cablevey provides new capabilities with the cart that help to expedite the CIP process.

Users can also choose to integrate the disc washer with the conveyor turnaround to spray a pressurised cleansing solution onto the discs. This helps remove stickier substances like chocolate that could remain after routine CIP cleaning, leaving the solution free of allergens, bacteria and other contaminants.

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