Cleaning is a major issue in manufacturing operations. Failure to clean and sanitize properly results in more than an ugly package. In extreme cases, it can result in consumer illness or even death. In today’s plant, two general methods of cleaning are typically used:

  1. Clean Out of Place (COP) is a cleaning process where the equipment is disassembled. The parts are transferred to a wash area where they are cleaned and sanitized. They may then be stored or reinstalled. COP systems may be manual or may be automated, using a washing machine.

  2. Clean In Place (CIP) requires minimal or no disassembly. CIP techniques include spray balls, pigs and valving systems. Ideally, at the end of the process the operator will press a button and the entire cycle will take place with no further intervention. In actuality, many systems require the connection of piping, sprayballs, drain hoses and the like. Some systems require the removal and manual cleaning of some components.

  CIP systems have many attractions. Perhaps the greatest attraction is that they remove the operator from the cleaning. This eliminates variability and gives a process that is (or should be) identical, cycle after cycle. CIP also acts as a barrier between the operator and potentially hazardous chemicals in either the product or the cleaning process. Finally, CIP eliminates the lost time as well as machine wear and tear caused by disassembly and reassembly.

  CIP is no magic panacea, though. CIP systems are complex and require a higher level skill set to design and maintain. If the equipment cannot be used during the CIP cycle, it may increase the amount of downtime. COP with multiple sets of parts allows the equipment to run during off-line cleaning. Validation of a CIP system needs to be more rigorous as there is less opportunity for visual inspection of the results. Finally, CIP is not cheap; it will normally incur a substantial capital cost which may or may not be offset by improved operational efficiencies.

  So, CIP or COP? It cannot be an automatic decision. The pros and cons of both must be carefully evaluated to determine what is best for each situation.F&BP