A commercial bakery in Texas was seeking a solution to its cleaning problem.
The plant is in constant operation and cleaning had to be performed often to remove layers of minerals, oils, bread crumbs and other buildup from their equipment and tooling.The bakery was previously utilizing the traditional cleaning method of pressure washing and manual hand washing.
This method presented a number of issues:
- Labor intensive
- Lengthy and time consuming
- Required a large cleaning team
- Creation of secondary waste streams
- Extended time required to wrap electrical components
For example, the bakery’s cleaning process involved a crew of 25 people working 8-10 hours to clean the conveyor in a bread cooler that moves baked goods from the oven to another area for cooling and packaging.
The bakery experienced the same issue when cleaning other areas, such as their bread proofers and baggers. Cleaning these machines involved at least two hours of setup time to wrap electrical components.
This method also does not clean deep enough to completely remove the layers of residue from the cooler, proofer, grids, baggers and floors.
The use of the pressure washer also required the company to wrap all electrical components prior to cleaning and then designate a few crew members to collect the water. The crew must remove all wastewater and ensure that the equipment is completely dry before the parts can be reassembled and production could begin again.
“No matter how hard you try, water gets everywhere, and even after trying to remove the water, moisture remains,” said the Quality Assurance (QA) Manager. “In a baking environment, we are highly concerned about the long-term quality and shelf life of our products. Where there is moisture or build-up, there is a greater chance of a biological growing. We were spending a lot of time, money and labor resources to keep the line clean and maintain our high sanitation standards.”
The Solution: Dry ice cleaning
Encouraged by the effectiveness of dry ice cleaning systems at two sister plants, the QA Manager brought in a dry ice blasting system for testing.
Dry ice cleaning uses non-abrasive media in the form of recycled CO2 media that won’t damage surfaces or equipment. The combination of dry ice blast cleaning’s kinetic energy and thermal effects break the connection between the dirt and surface, lifting away contaminants.
Unlike power washing or steam cleaning, dry ice cleaning:
- Does not leave any secondary waste (dry ice sublimates to gas)
- Is safe and non-toxic
- Eliminates water and moisture from the cleaning process
- Does not create downstream contamination
- Reduces or eliminates employee exposure to chemical cleaning agents
- Is non-abrasive and will not damage equipment
The Results: Immediate return on investment
1) Time and cost savings
The bread cooler and mile long conveyor, which previously took 25 people working 8-10 hours to clean, now takes only two people less than six hours to clean.
In an experiment, one cleaning crew of four people cleaned a bagger machine using a power washer and by hand, while a second crew of two people cleaned another bagger with dry ice. It took the hand-washing crew more than four hours, while the dry ice cleaning crew took less than an hour.
The sanitation department was able to reduce staffing while the remaining crew is now able to focus on areas of the plant that the company hadn’t been able to clean previously.
By reducing the amount of people and time required to clean, they were able to recoup 24-30 hours per person per week that can be allocated to other cleaning and maintenance projects.
“We simply did not have downtime to clean some pieces of equipment to our standards,” noted the QA Manager. “But because of the speed and effectiveness of the dry ice system, we now have the time and resources to attend to a variety of other areas of the plant.”
2) Elimination of water and moisture
With the dry ice cleaning, the plant does not have to worry about water residue or moisture anymore. Crew members no longer have to bag the electrical components, and they have also reduced the possibility of harmful biologicals.
“We do significant testing to determine how clean our equipment is after cleaning, and with dry ice cleaning, we are able to do more than simply removing debris,” noted the QA Manager. We are actually sanitizing our machines, which will have a positive impact on the long-term quality of our products and the life of our equipment.”
3) Reduced equipment damage
The cleaning process is soft enough that it doesn’t peel paint, impinge electrical conduit, damage the laser and infrared photo eyes used in production, or remove the mineral oils on the conveyor, yet is powerful enough to remove several years of built-up residue from production line machines.
“Much of the equipment in a high-speed baking plant is simply not designed to be cleaned easily,” explained the QA Manager. With the dry ice system, we are cleaning things that I have never seen cleaned in the decade I have been in the industry.”