Mobile “smart cart” automates food conveyor CIP

For an automated, wet clean-in-place process, a technician can push a cart with pre-programmed recipes and integrated water line hookups to tubular drag conveyors, facilitating quick sanitary compliance and production changeover

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 easier, faster, less labour-intensive, increasingly repeatable, and almost fully automated.

Tubular drag conveyor systems gently move product through a sealed, enclosed tube using a drag cable and circular discs pulled through on a loop, therefore making it 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.

“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,” said John Adair, engineering and quality director for Cablevey Conveyors.

To simplify the wet cleaning process, Adair and his engineering team at Cablevey have 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 facilitate 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.

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