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Automating Powder Conveyor Clean in Place

A new wet clean-in-place process is available using a Smart Cart.

Powder Bulk Solids Staff

September 22, 2023

5 Min Read
Cablevey Conveyors Smart Cart
Cablevey Conveyors' new Smart Cart solution for tubular conveying.Image courtesy of Cablevey Conveyors

For sanitary, compliant interior surface cleaning, those who process, handle, and package dry particulates have sought greater efficiency in removing residual powder and bulk solids from tubular drag conveyors. Traditional methods can require additional time, labor, and technician oversight.

A new automated, wet clean-in-place process is now available. A technician can push a cart with pre-programmed recipes and integrated water line hookups to tubular drag conveyors throughout a plant, facilitating quick sanitary compliance and production changeover.

John Adair, Engineering and Quality director for Cablevey Conveyors, explains this latest development in a Q&A.

Q:  Explain the importance of mobile wet clean-in-place technology for tubular drag cable conveyors?

A:  Since tubular drag conveyor systems gently move product through a sealed, enclosed tube using a drag cable and circular discs pulled through on a loop, they are ideal for delicate items. To promote 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. In a wet CIP process, the system is flooded with water, flushed, rinsed, cleansed, and thoroughly sanitized. The process thoroughly flushes out any residual powder or bulk solids. In food processing, for instance, it can essentially eliminate potential allergens like gluten from conveying equipment.

Now, with the advent of mobile tools like the Smart Cart that quick-connects to any tubular conveyor and enables simple, customizable single-button cleaning recipes, CIP is becoming easier, faster, less labor-intensive, more repeatable, and almost fully automated.

Q:  Why has simplifying the CIP process been a focus?

A:  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.

The standard system required port hookups to water lines and installing piping. The processor also had to make decisions such as which water temperatures to utilize, or whether to use a cleaning solvent — and the correct amount to add manually.

Q:  Can you tell us about the mobile Smart Cart?

A:  To simplify the wet cleaning process, our engineering team at Cablevey 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. The cart is specifically designed to be a fraction of the size of similar carts on the market, to promote mobility. When the cart is in position and connected to water lines, the CIP process is automated and controlled by a programmable logic controller (PLC) that reduces the need for manual labor and virtually eliminates the risk of improper cleaning.

Once it is set up, all you do is press a button and it will bring in the required amount of water at the correct temperature with the necessary amount of solvent for cleaning.

The smart cart is designed to store and utilize pre-programmed CIP recipes to flush various residual materials from the tubular drag cable conveyors in a facility before new production runs. The cleaning recipes enable even those with very little training to use the cart. This is helpful in today’s tight labor market and allows the technician to move on to other tasks once the cleaning process begins.

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

Depending on the product being conveyed, sometimes all you need is a wet rinse, or sometimes you need 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.

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

Q.  Are there any other ways the Smart Cart can expedite the CIP process and reduce downtime?

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

Currently, the CIP process floods the tubular conveyor system but is not designed to specifically clean the discs. Operators would manually clean each disc and advance the system disc by disc when the discs had to be cleaned of particularly viscous substances.

Now, as an option on the cart, a disc washer can be integrated with the conveyor turnaround to spray a pressurized cleansing solution on the discs. This helps to remove stickier substances that could remain after routine CIP cleaning.

The disc washer sprays high-pressure water directly on the discs, so it acts like an automatic car wash. At the push of a button, the discs and cable are run through and spray cleaned, which reduces CIP time and eliminates the need to manually clean the discs.

To further reduce downtime, Cablevey also offers a new sanitary blower option.

After the wet CIP process, a sanitary blower attachment on the smart cart can dry the discs and other parts of the system 75% faster than typical air drying. The faster the conveyor is cleaned and dried after a product change, the sooner it can be put back into service, which improves profitability.

Q:  Are the Smart Carts available now? 

A:  Yes, the mobile Smart Cart is available to order. In addition, Cablevey plans to bring traveling demonstration Smart Carts to customers free so they can try out the units. Processors who like what they see can purchase the demo unit used in their facility, with hands-on training immediately available.

Q:  Do you have any last words?

A:  Within the powder and bulk solids processing industry, greater processing efficiency, compliance, and quality will translate into increased profitability, and that is why industry professionals should consider incorporating a mobile smart cart with integrated water hookups to easily implement CIP throughout their facilities.

Cablevey Conveyors is an Oskaloosa, IA-based conveyor manufacturer that has designed, engineered, and serviced enclosed cable and disc tube conveyors for 50 years, and is in more than 65 countries. For more information on Smart Cart and other conveyor solutions, visit Cablevey Conveyors.

About the Author(s)

Powder Bulk Solids Staff

Established in 1983, Powder & Bulk Solids (PBS) serves industries that process, handle, and package dry particulate matter, including the food, chemical, and pharmaceutical markets.

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