A manufacture of tomato-based sauces was producing in a typical method where the existing sanitary process used pipes that carried both ingredients, rinse waters, and CIP solutions depending on the time of the process cycle. The existing process did meet the requirements of all good sanitary design practices and produced an excellent product. However, the process through years of growth was relying on the use of jumper pipes and jumper panels.
The customer engaged Placer Process to first improve the process system reducing the risk of these different fluid streams from mixing accidently. In addition, there is an inherent safety risk for the customer employees for exposure to hot products and chemical solutions when manual connections are changed. The customer asked Placer Process to help with an audit of the piping installation. This included a requirement to produce a matrix of improvements where the addition of valves would improve safety and improve product quality gained by removing the risk of fluid stream mixing.
The project became a decision of when to remain with transfer panels or add valve groups based on safety, quality, and cost. Both methods, transfer panels and valves, can provide an atmospheric break to keep the materials and solutions from mixing. However, the way in which this break is achieved is completely different.
Transfer Panels Defined
One option for providing an atmospheric break is a transfer panel. In the simplest version, three lines connect to a panel. A “U” shaped removable jumper, connects two of the three lines. The disconnected line now has an atmospheric break, while the connected line is in service. This concept can be extended to complex configurations of multiple lines and multiple jumpers.
While relatively low in cost and maintenance, these jumpers must be manually moved between lines, which is labor intensive and can cause mistakes due to operator errors. This process also exposes the operator to pressure, heat, cleaning costs and there is a greater chance of material loss.
Manual change over
Operator can see flow path
Possible material loss
Jumper position can be monitored with proximity switches
Operator exposure to pressure, heat, and chemicals
Mix-Proof Valve Clusters
Another way to prevent contamination is by using mix proof valves to create an atmospheric break. Sanitary mix-proof valve manufactures provide a wide array of valve configurations that share a common feature: the atmospheric break is provided by the internal mechanism of the valve. For complex operations, clusters of valves can be combined to safely provide CIP solution and ingredients wherever they are needed.
While this method does involve a higher start-up cost and a more complex maintenance system, it is fully automated which removes the chances for operator errors and keeps operators out of harm’s way. Valves can be located away from operator areas, and all operations can be pre-programmed. Mix proof valve clusters have the added benefit of rapid change-overs. In many cases, mix-proof valve clusters more than pay for themselves by keeping employees safe and operations running automatically.
Double Seat Valve Clusters Pros & Cons
Relatively high implementation cost
Fully automated systems
Complex system for maintenance
No operator exposure
Valves can be located away from operator areas
Project Moving Forward
The customer worked with Placer Process recognizing that both get the job done by providing the key atmospheric break, and both can be adapted to more complex configurations. Using a mix of both methods, a creative design led to the plant’s needs being met. So which is better? Ultimately the answer lies in the review process. When you work with Placer Process Systems, we will consider all of your requirements including cost, timeline, available equipment, standards, and employee safety measures to collaboratively determine what are your process options and which method is best to meet your desired project goals.