The production of beverages is a highly efficient industrial process. Whether it's mineral water, fruit juice or other soft drinks, the bottling plants involved are complex and deal with vast filling quantities with tens of thousands of units per hour. As is the case in other sectors within the food industry, the cleaning and disinfection of these production plants is subject to very stringent hygiene requirements. As a result, the companies have special hygiene management measures in place as a sub-area of their quality management systems.
The operational QM management integrates the various cleaning and disinfecting services provided by cleaning companies into their own hygiene concepts and bases them on the provisions of VDI 4066. These hygiene requirements are ideally achieved by way of CIP cleaning methods and are therefore suitable for the intensive cleaning and disinfection purposes for production plants within the beverage industry. CIP ensures the best hygienic conditions throughout the production area, but production will however be halted when the cleaning and disinfection process is underway.
These automatic cleaning processes must be carried out much more frequently for fruit juices or spritzers than alcoholic beverages, for example. In addition, the filling sequence for various beverages also has a major impact on the CIP, and therefore production times too. An intermediate rinse will suffice when switching from orangeade to grapefruit lemonade, whereas a complete CIP run must be completed when switching from alchoholic beverages to soft drinks. The CIP cleaning teams must therefore work perfectly in tandem with each other and must have a high level of technical skill and knowledge gained from experience. This is the only way to achieve optimum cleaning results whilst having minimum downtimes at the same time.
What it involves
Cleaning times are essentially downtimes for production. Likewise, the time spent not producing items costs money. This has therefore led to the commercial objective of achieving maximum cleaning results within the shortest possible cleaning times.
These objectives can only be achieved by using a cleaning team that is able to perform the individual steps of typical CIP cleaning methods (Emptying the system by draining the residual liquids – Pre-rinsing the system components with cold water – Cleaning with hot lye – Intermediate rinsing with warm water – Acid cleaning/hot water rinsing – Final rinsing with cold water) in a manner that does not cause disruption and conserves resources. By following this process, the CIP team is able to prevent any unnecessary downtimes and increased costs when switching products several times. This is particularly so if time-consuming manual additional measures are necessary (e.g. moving arcs or emptying individual plant parts).
The BIRFOOD specialist cleaners are specialists in the cleaning of various production plants for beverages of all types, from beer right through to sparkling apple juice. We believe that cleaning and disinfection are integral parts of modern beverage production and offer our customers a wide range of services regarding production plants and production environments.
BIRFOOD only deploys specialist cleaners who have been specially trained and participated in internal training courses; this applies to all cleaning areas. Our cleaning teams are therefore specialists in requirement profiles for the cleaning and disinfection of industrial production plants. This includes the professional handling of modern CIP processes within the production of beverages. As part of this cleaning process, the BIRFOOD teams also inspect the flow rates, temperatures and pressures within the plant. By doing so, they are able to ensure the highest hygiene standards within the production plants of our customers.
Given its vast experience as a cleaning company for the beverage industry, BIRFOOD is fully aware of the fact that the best cleaning technology is only as good as the staff who operate it. The customer can rest assured that the employees working within our teams are familiar with both traditional as well as modern CIP cleaning methods. In addition, our cleaning schedules and documentation ensure a high level of transparency and safety for the operational hygiene management, and indeed supplement the existing HACCP concepts.
In the beverage industry, such as the production of beer for example, our cleaning teams are responsible for cleaning returned empties when dealing with return-refill systems.
The cleaning process commences upon receipt of the returned empties, which are then unpacked and sorted. The returned empties and transport crates are then cleaned in a fully automated manner, and the bottles are checked for any damage.
When cleaning in the dry part of the plant, particular attention is paid to the functionality of the plant, so that the crates containing returned empties can be transported into the washing system without causing any disruption, for example. In order to ensure they are safely transported, the boxes containing returned empties are stabilised using packaging cords (containers). It is inevitable that these cords will become entangled in deflection rollers or drive rollers, leading subsequently to disruption if this gets out of hand. As a result, it is crucial that our specialists working in the dry part release the drive shafts of the conveyor belts from this packaging cord.
The bottle washing machine, which is at the heart of any refilling plant, is in turn carefully freed from any labels, broken glass etc by our specialists. This helps to ensure a trouble-free washing and disinfection process.
When working at the bottling plants, the BIRFOOD cleaning teams are responsible for the complete external cleaning along with the removal of various components. All employees will wear their PPE equipment for these tasks and other tasks too; this equipment consists of special safety shoes with puncture-resistant soles and cut-resistant gloves. The provisions of the Occupational Health and Safety Act (ASiG) and BGV intended to protect our employees form the basis of our operations.
Maximum levels of flexibility and strict adherence to customer requirements are not merely slogans here at BIRFOOD; they are in fact actual programmes. Our specialist cleaners take note of the customer's requirements in terms of cleaning times - this may of course also be on Saturday and Sundays, along with public holidays too. The commercial benefit to our customers is obvious; instead of having to switch off the machines earlier on the last day of the week in order to be able to clean them, bottles can continue to be filled right up until the end of standard production hours. It is only once production has finished that our BIRFOOD teams will come in and clean the systems. This ensures that no valuable production time is wasted as the cleaning and disinfection duties are carried out during non-production times.
Cleanliness and hygiene are the basis for high-quality products. If the products are not cleaned properly, and given the high production volumes involved, this will immediately result in serious risks to sales generated as production will need to be stopped (where necessary) and any batches that have already been produced may need to be destroyed. The BIRFOOD Quality Assurance team carries out several microbiological inspections on a daily basis in order to ensure a flawless end product. In addition, our hygiene experts help prevent any further disruption caused by impurities through cleaning the production plants and peripheral equipment/areas on a weekly basis.
By taking this action, BIRFOOD is able to ensure the scheduled production objectives and avoid extra costs whilst achieving excellent cleaning and disinfection results at the same time - all of which help contribute to efficient operational hygiene that reduces material consumption and is sustainable.