CIP Improvements for Quality, Safety, and Sustainability

Clean-in-Place (CIP) systems can be improved and added to any sanitary process operation to improve quality, safety, and join a factory wide effort to increase sustainability in a world that is changing due in part to the environmental impact of global warming. This article will speak to the advantages that a CIP system can add to a process system when installed or improved.  CIP systems come in many configurations and styles dependent on the industry they serve. For example, a CIP system for a brewery in comparison to a liquid milk plant typically provide similar operating advantages but are different in appearance and design. This article speaks to the sustainability advantage a CIP system can add more than the technical details of a system. You can tune those design details after you analyze and prioritize the functional priorities of one or multiple CIP system(s) for your processes.


Starting with the structure of a basic CIP design, the main components are the same from small to large systems. One or multiple tank(s) connected to a fresh water source is required for the circulation of water and cleaning solutions. A pump with adequate flow and pressure of the different CIP circuits is needed. A heat exchanger with a utility connection is required for the heating of CIP solutions. The heating of CIP solution has the advantage of allowing the chemicals to work more efficiently and hence minimizing the concentration of chemicals used if the cleaning solution is to be supplied at ambient temperature. Those are the must-have items within a CIP system in the effort of moving towards greater sustainability. Give serious thought to whether your existing equipment can be tasked with CIP duties when not in use for processing your product. Instruments for the validation of CIP circuits including temperature, flow, and wash solution conductivity are very important to confirm that the desired parameters have been reached and maintained throughout the various CIP phases. However, these parameters can be checked with manual sampling until the time comes that addition of automation can be made possible. While adding a control system for ease of operation and reduction of operator involvement is also recommended, it can also be added later if you would like to start with a more hands-on manual approach. The addition of these items does streamline the process which can result in a reduction of cleaning time, increase of the available production hours, repeatable CIP cycles, and improved safety.

The use of a CIP equipment will allow the basic cleaning steps of pre-rinse, caustic wash, post-rinse, and sanitize. The same basic steps as cleaning a 5-gallon wort can at home. Always consider and weigh the options of using sodium hydroxide (NaOH) in comparison to potassium hydroxide (KOH) based cleaners. This article does not speak to that subject or differences, but it is something to consider for cleaning operations and for the environmental impact the discharge of these chemicals has at the end of cleaning cycles.

CIP System

CIP systems for large processes are found everywhere. However, as an example, a small brewery starting with a hot liquor tank, kettle/whirlpool, lauter tun, and boiler, the CIP system is often not chosen for the purpose of minimizing start-up costs. Then, as the brewery expands the expense of CIP has often pushed aside as funds are spent on other needs such as other processing equipment and marketing. At this point, it is a good time for the process (brewery for today’s article) to take a moment and consider the addition and benefits of using a CIP system. A CIP system for best practices needs a heat source for the rinse and wash cycles. With some industries such as wine production, a boiler as the heat source is often not present and the task of adding a CIP system is more difficult. However, with hot water and boilers present in the breweries, the final step towards the addition of a CIP system and achieving greater sustainability is feasible.

Technical Notes

We offer a reminder of how CIP can improve operations and quality when properly applied for the cleaning of tanks, hoses, piping, heat exchangers, and tanks:

  1. Water usage is optimized with specific water flow and time tuned for different CIP circuits. The system CIP pump with controls can offer flow and pressure specific to a pipe and hose wash circuit. Then change to different flow and pressure for a tank cleaning jet. This moves from CIP circuits being water hogs and customizes water consumption and supply specific to each type of wash circuit.
  2. A CIP system can speed up the cleaning process with both the use of the CIP system and connecting hoses and pipes. This can potentially allow operation with fewer employees as the connection and moving of hoses is minimized.
  3. The use of CIP increases water, chemical, and wastewater efficiencies stepping towards greater sustainability and lowering operating costs.
  4. CIP when applied with good training and operating practices can improve safety.
  5. CIP systems are used to avoid potential cross-contamination which would result in more efficient use of water and resources.
  6. CIP provides cleaner brewery equipment resulting in a higher quality of product and less waste.
  7. Opportunities open up for heat recovery and heat transfer between existing systems such as hot liquor and discharging hot CIP rinses.
  8. Gather final clear rinse waters to be used again for second-tier uses such as floor washing.


Give thought and share ideas on how to get started with adding or improving CIP equipment to the process. Important questions are how this can be done with finding a balance between the usage of your existing equipment, investing in a new equipment, or a combination of both. Carefully consider what equipment is the priority for CIP and reach-out to the experts and the manufacturers of those components, tanks, and CIP systems to confirm the optimum cleaning flow rate, pressure, and time. That information is often readily available or do not hesitate to reach out to our in-house brewery process and utility design, fabrication, and system installation experts at Placer Process Systems ( if you have any questions or would like to involve us in your next project cycle. The key takeaways within the environmental assessment while considering a CIP system is to grade each component with consideration towards optimizing water use, optimizing labor hours, increasing efficiency, improving safety, avoiding potential cross-contamination, and ultimately providing higher quality and more consistent brew for the satisfaction of your avid customers.

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