Let's talk CIP!
By: Jake Weesner - Codi Field Technician
The CIP process is quite possibly the most important step of the production process, whether we're talking about a wort kettle, keg, bright tank, or your Codi Filler. Let's use a brewery model for the main example, and majority of our examples throughout. The brewing team can spend 3 months sourcing ingredients, have a good old 12 hour brew day, then the beer spends 37 days in a fermenter another couple weeks in a bright tank, but unless the Codi filler is as clean and prepped as possible, all that work was for nothing. Off flavor capability, risk of infection, and if we're being honest here, it's just plain gross! CIP very simply stands for Clean In Place, meaning the opposing process would be to remove all the elements of the machine and clean them individually, which, for obvious reasons is in no way efficient.
I've seen a lot of different processes and methods while out in the field. Breweries that CIP the night before and then sanitize in the morning, while some opt to do the entire process right before the run. I can honestly say the places that see the best results... well... they care! They care about what they're doing, and they understand why a CIP process is so important.
My early days in the brewing industry I was met with great teachers and bad, just like any other industry. When I look back on what knowledge stuck with me in the sense of what made someone a good teacher, it was the people that didn't just tell me what to do, but explained why it was done that way. I still use this thinking when I train folks on their new Codi filler as well. We don't just hit a start button and after 15 minutes say it's clean, we come into each CIP with the knowledge of what we are trying to accomplish, and upon knowing we have dosed correctly and temperature is on point, we can sit back knowing that the machine is as prepped as it can be.
The CIP process on a Codi filler is incredibly simple and gives very little exemption to an operator whose machine is not clean. Take for instance the picture here of a machine that was not even being rinsed off at the end of a production run. The operator would push some 80-90 degree water through the machine and go home after running milk based coffee all day. When I brought it up to management, they handed me a bucket of simple green and a sponge, gave me the door code and went home. Now the reason I give all that info is not to be snarky, or even bitter.... I might still be bitter.... anyway, I say that to say; from the top down, bottom up, side to side, everyone in a packaging facility needs to be on the same page when it comes to cleaning. It's so odd to say it this way but that operator actually wasn't cutting corners, the fact was they were following protocol. The operator didn't just one day decide to stop cleaning, they never cleaned in the first place! And when it came to those in charge, they took no issue with the process in place. The operator was told "what", and had no bearing on the "why".
Let's start to get into some actual content here. The first big step in understanding how to efficiently and effectively CIP the Codi Filler starts with a firm understanding of your chemicals and how they work. As a basic or general rule:
Caustic - Kills organic material like yeast and sugars, used for cleaning the machine.
Citric Acid - Kills inorganic material like beer stone and general dirt, mainly used to passivate the metals of the machine.
Sanitizer - Well.... it sanitizes, and just remember, you cannot sanitize what's not clean.
When I say "an understanding of your chemicals", I am not only referencing their main usage, but almost more so referring to their potency. This is where we start talking about specific dilution and temperature. When using Caustic in a CIP cycle on a Codi filler, you are shooting for a dilution of around 1%. This means if you have 35 gallons of water, you need to add .35 gallons of caustic, or 1.32 liters. Equally as important is ensuring that the temperature is within the specified range for that chem. Most caustic needs a range above 165 degrees Fahrenheit for maximum potency.
When talking CIP on the Codi filler exclusively, there are a couple notes to take into account before we press on. Due to the internal structure of the machine (valves, fill hoses, seals, etc.) when chemicals are involved, the temperature must remain below 185 Fahrenheit. You will not see catastrophic failure, nothing will explode, what you will see is the lifespan of various quick connect fittings and seals be drastically shortened from say 4 million cans, down to 200,000. When no chemical is involved, you are more than welcome to take that temp way up there! Throw some near boiling through it! On the other side of that coin, what if the water in your facility doesn't reach the appropriate temperature for what your caustic calls for? Time! Time becomes your ally here! Any chem distributor out there will be able to direct you in the process when it comes to temp/time.
I want to share a general cleaning regiment that is not only thorough, but effective for almost any packaging facility. Sure there are little things here and there that will change place to place, but in all honesty, CIP on Codi filler is pretty standard no matter what type of product you are running. Even beyond that, the only thing that changes from cycle to cycle is whether you are recirculating or dumping to the drain, as far as the user interface, everything is exactly the same. Let's go about this process like we are about to start a packaging run:
1. Cold water rinse to the floor drain for 3 minutes.
2. Caustic cycle, 165-185 degree water at 1% dilution, recirculated for 15 minutes.
3. Hot water rinse to the drain till the water leaving the recirc hose has a neutral PH.
4. Cold water citric acid passivation cycle recirculated for 15 minutes.
5. Cold Water rinse to the drain till the water leaving the recirc hose has a neutral PH.
6. Sanitizing cycle recirculated for 8-10 minutes.
You may be looking at this process schedule and thinking it will take you all day just to get to the point you're actually running product, when in reality, the entire CIP can very feasibly be done inside of an hour. Rinse cycles are generally around 3-5 minutes, and if you are on top of your process after getting some muscle memory on the start to finish, again, there's no reason the entire process should be any longer than an hour. At the same time that you are running the various cycles, you can be hosing down the machine or hitting the floors with a scrub brush, making boxes or checking carb on the bright tank. The Codi takes all the work out of the CIP process which opens you up to other various duties involved in a packaging day. When it comes to the end of a run, if you are not turning around to run the machine again in 6 hours, there is no need to do a sani cycle. Leave the machine clean, closed and empty.
One of the most thorough things you can do for the CIP process of your machine is keeping PH test strips on hand, especially when it comes to your rinse cycles. When I referenced that a rinse takes anywhere from 3 to 5 minutes, the only way to truly know whether you have properly rinsed the machine is to check the water coming out of the recirc hose. If you stick a test strip in the water coming out the recirc hose and it shows 11, you still have quite a bit of caustic in there still. Now if after 4 minutes of rinse, you try a test strip and it shows a PH of 7, you are neutral and ready to move on to the next step.
For the Codi filler, if the machine is going to be sitting for some period of time, even meaning overnight, we strongly discourage leaving the machine packed with sani as one may do with say, product lines. The reason for this, most sani being an oxidizing agent, will over time eat away at specific fittings and seals. If you leave the machine, leave it clean, and sanitize directly before the next run.
The 2 main points to always take into account when it comes to a CIP process are that you cannot clean something too well, and you cannot sanitize what is not clean. If you are running 2 different products in the same day and are weary of down time between to CIP, there are more questions that need answered other than just time on the clock. Many times I have been asked the question of "can we just do a sani cycle between beers?" The short answer is yes, hell you could just go beer to beer if you really want to, but what is the loss/gain here? The only reason to rinse with sani in between beers would be that the water you're rinsing with is sanitary, and not adding more microbes like that of straight city water. Let's dive in a little further and look at it from 2 different angles:
1. How similar are the yeasts of the 2 products?
- Yeast is a fickle mistress, she is one of the more magical chemical compounds under the sun, while also being incredibly aggressive under the correct conditions. I get a shiver up my spine when I hear stories of mobile canners running Kombucha one day, to turn around and run a mom and pop brewery's Pilsner the next. Yeast demands our respect while also deserving of it. If the 2 yeasts of the different products you are running in a single day without CIP in between are similar or the same, then you can save some time by just rinsing between. Again though, take all elements into account, an infected run of beer can turn very expensive very quickly.
2. How similar are the flavor profiles?
- Flavor profiles are the exact reason there are different beers, I mean that just makes sense. So let's say your brewery only uses WLP001 California Ale Yeast in every beer you do, and in the same day you are running your Pale Ale, followed by your Coffee Porter. Basic reasoning would tell us that if we are not going to run a CIP in between beers, based on flavor profile alone, we will start the day by running the Pale Ale, with the Coffee Porter after that. Even then there are the options of rinsing in between, or just pushing beer to beer. At that point, it comes down to loss. Do I set the first case aside from pushing the sani out of the line with beer? Or do I set 1-3 cases aside due to my Coffee Porter half tasting like Mosaic hops from the Pale Ale we ran in the morning.
I'm sure it is evident by this point that I can ramble for days about CIP. In my packaging career I have had very high standards of cleanliness and at times border on being an ass hole about it. The root cause for this however is because I care. I care about the finished product. I care that when the customer opens a can in 3 months it tastes as close as possible to the beer I enjoyed off the zwickle the day we carbed it. I care that if the taproom manager takes a couple people on a tour of the facility, when they walk past the packaging area, the only smell in the air is the brewers grain build and not pink slime.
When it comes to CIP, as long as you care, as long as you know what, and understand why, 9.999999 times out of 10, you're gonna have a good time. Packaging for life, forklift certified, that's what's up!