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Tag Archive: Sanitary

  1. Chiller Tube Maintenance Step-by-Step Guide

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    Chiller tube maintenance is likely not on the top of facility managers’ minds during cold months. But just because they may not be in use, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give them some attention during the winter season. In fact, this extended period of time when chillers are not a critical component of your building’s HVAC efforts is the perfect opportunity to address any chiller tube maintenance concerns.

    Of the many components of a chiller, the tubes are one of the most impactful in terms of overall energy efficiency, according to The NEWS. Chiller tubes and coils can become dirty or coated with scale over time, which decreases their heat transfer capabilities. As a condenser’s heat transfer ability goes down, its energy consumption goes up – sometimes by 30 percent or more, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. A well-maintained system, therefore, can save energy and money. If your condenser was struggling to reach a full refrigeration load or was reaching higher pressures than expected, it’s likely you have buildup that’s increasing your energy spend.

    Begin Your Chiller Tube Maintenance with Clean Tubes

    An initial water cleanse is a good step toward cleaner tubes, but it shouldn’t be your only means to achieve greater energy efficiency. There will likely still be scaling left clinging to the tube walls after the cleanse is finished, especially considering that most chiller tubes have ridges in them.

    A rotary tube cleaner, like the Goodway Ram-Pro sold by Enerquip, includes a brush that rotates to get into those grooves and can help immensely. Newer models of rotary tube cleaning systems also allow you to add antimicrobials and corrosion inhibitors onto the surface of the tubes to minimize future scaling.

    Choose the brush you use with the rotary tube cleaner carefully, as different models are designed to clean specific types of fouling. There’s a big difference between removing softer fouling like algae and mud compared to tougher scaling and mineral deposits.

    You may also consider using chemical descalers to tackle more difficult forms of buildup like calcium, rust and lime. However, before you choose chemicals to insert into your tubes, make sure they’re compatible with the equipment’s materials of construction. If your tubes were fabricated with an alloy that’s highly resistant to corrosion, such as stainless steel, this may be less of a concern.

    Cleaning your tubes should be at least an annual or biannual task, and doing so during the colder months can give you ample time to address any issues before the weather warms up again.

    Do an Eddy Current Test

    Many chillers go through eddy current testing after fabrication and installation to test for any damage that may have occurred before the unit is fully operational, Process Cooling explained. It’s also a good method to test for issues that may arise during the lifetime of the chiller.

    An eddy current test may be able to detect small defects that can lead to leaks, but it shouldn’t be confused with an actual leak test, Texas Eddy Current explained. An eddy current test, sometimes called a magnetic field test, can highlight corrosion, erosion, mechanical damage and more. It can also indicate whether your tube walls have lost thickness over the years, Facilities Net reported. To conduct this test, a metal probe that creates a full-circle magnetic field is inserted into the tube. As the tester moves the probe through the tube, the magnetic field will either remain stable or show signs of a disturbance. Those signals indicate an issue at that location.

    You don’t necessarily need to do an eddy current test each time you clean your tubes. Once every two or three years for your chiller or three to five years for your evaporator should be sufficient.

    Treat Your Water

    The quality of the water that enters and flows from your chiller plays a big role in determining how often you should perform chiller tube maintenance and cleaning. When you know the water quality in your area, you can take proactive measures to prevent scaling and fouling in your tubes.

    “When you know the water quality in your area, you can take proactive measures to prevent scaling.”

    Closed-loop systems, which are most common in chillers, generally require a one-time chemical treatment to reduce the risk of fouling. If you have an open-loop system, which may be found in condenser systems or atmospheric cooling towers, you’ll likely need to arrange for continuous chemical treatment. In any case, water treatment should be tailored to the unique qualities of the local water source. A water treatment specialist in your area is the best resource to consult.

    Though keeping the risk of fouling at a minimum may be your highest priority, you should also keep in mind other conditions of the water, such as the temperature and flow rate, Contractor Business explained. Colder water is generally more efficient to use in chillers. In fact, if your chiller isn’t running optimally and you aren’t prepared to clean the tubes just yet, lowering the temperature may be a good temporary solution for improving efficiency. Don’t mistake this as a long-term fix, though – if you’re looking for sustained improvement, it’s critical to remove scale and other buildup in the tubes.

    The flow rate should generally be between 3 and 12 feet per second. Fall below this range and you’ll get laminar flow that reduces the efficiency of the chiller. Higher flow rates can cause the equipment to vibrate and shake, and increases the risk of damage to the tubes.

    Create a Prevention Plan for Your Chiller Tube Maintenance

    Setting aside enough time to conduct thorough chiller tube maintenance and inspection is a great first step toward lasting energy efficiency, but it’s important to plan for the future, too. Every system is different, so you should create a plan to keep your unit running well for years to come.

    Creating a daily operating log will help you visualize small day-to-day changes in the chiller’s performance, which will indicate how often you should repeat the cleaning process. It will also clue you into small issues that occur. Identifying and addressing these before they escalate into larger problems can help you maintain a functioning chiller for longer.

    In time, you may start to notice patterns in your chiller’s performance. This will help you create a schedule for inspections and maintenance.

    Know When to Replace Your Chiller

    Every chiller will be replaced sooner or later. Though these units can generally be relied upon for several decades, they’ll eventually become more costly to maintain than it would be to install a newer, more updated model. If your chiller is presenting frequent issues and is close to 25 or 30 years old, it’s likely ready to be retired, Facilities Net explained.

    When choosing your next model, seek out a manufacturer that can provide reliable, high-quality equipment. The engineers at Enerquip are here to help identify shell and tube requirements for a wide range of assets, including chillers. Request a quote.

  2. Preventing Cross Contamination in Your shell and tube heat exchangers

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    Cross contamination is a shared concern at all stages of the food industry. Chefs need to make sure their fresh veggies are kept away from their raw meat; storage facilities strive to keep common allergenic foods like nuts separate from other ingredients; and food production plants must ensure products sent through their process equipment isn’t affected by harmful bacteria, chemicals or other items.

    Shell and tube heat exchangers are popular in food production plants as a method to pasteurize fruit, vegetable or dairy products, or to achieve a desirable consistency, as in honey or maple syrup production. Cross contamination is also a risk factor in industries like pharmaceuticals and personal care.

    It’s important that these important pieces of equipment don’t contribute to any form of cross contamination. If this were to occur, it could reduce plant efficiency, lead to a ruined batch of product or necessitate a recall. There are many different ways to reduce the chances of cross contamination in your food or pharmaceutical production facility. Here are a few:

    Work with quality equipment fabricators

    The materials used in the construction of your shell and tube heat exchangers play an important role in the quality, sanitation, cleaning requirements and lifespan of your equipment. Many food industry companies turn to stainless steel for its fouling resistance.

    Choosing a stainless steel shell and tube heat exchanger is therefore a good step toward preventing cross contamination in your facility. However, you can take this one step further by finding out what sort of environment in which your shell and tube heat exchanger is fabricated.

    Cross contamination isn’t just limited to food items; you can also cross-contaminate metals. As such, it’s worthwhile to find out if your stainless steel shell and tube heat exchanger is being made in a facility that also utilizes carbon steel. If it is, there’s always a chance that this metal, which is more prone to fouling, can contaminate your equipment.

    At Enerquip, we value the integrity of stainless steel, which is why we don’t work with carbon steel. When you receive one of our heat exchangers, you can feel confident that it hasn’t been affected by this metal.

    Strategically choose your tubes

    When cross contamination does occur in a shell and tube heat exchanger, it may be caused by the shell-side fluid mixing with the tube-side fluid. To prevent this from happening, added barriers or an adjusted tube design can help.

    Enerquip’s high purity shell and tube heat exchangers are fitted with double tubesheets, which reduces the risk of cross contamination of this type. These custom and standard pharma-grade exchangers are particularly useful for pharmaceutical, nutraceutical, animal health and personal care industries.

    Double tube sheet configurations typically have a form of leak detection installed in the exchanger. If a leak were to occur in these models, the fluid should drain away from the exchanger and into a safety container rather than mixing with the other fluid, and alerts the operator that there is an issue to repair.

    Understand pressure differentials

    The engineers who create shell and tube heat exchangers must understand many complex formulas to know how the equipment will behave once it’s put to use. The pressure differential, or the difference between the pressures inside the exchanger, is an important one that relates to the likelihood of cross contamination. Typically, the pressure on the shellside would be less than inside the tubes. That way, if a leak springs, the product will flow into the heat transfer medium, rather than the medium mixing into the product and entering the tubes. This helps to keep the negative effects of a cross contamination incident as low as possible.

    Regular inspections and cleaning

    If there’s a chance of cross contamination in your equipment, it’s best to know sooner than later. Periodic visual inspections is the first step in identifying weak points and emerging problems that could lead to contamination, Business Standard pointed out. In your inspections, you might see early signs of leaks in your tubesheet or gaskets. If you catch this early, you may be able to replace or repair the damage before it leads to mixing fluids.

    You may also see early signs of fouling. If fouling is allowed to continue for too long, it can lead to spoiled product. If you do, you’ll want to clean the exchanger and determine whether you can make any changes to your process to prevent fouling. This might mean exploring new options for heat transfer fluids, cleaning more frequently or changing your sanitation methods.

    Whether you’ve experienced cross contamination at your facility or simply want to ensure you’re doing everything you can to prevent it, strategically choosing your shell and tube heat exchanger and making sure it’s kept in good condition can go a long way to help your efforts. To learn about Enerquip’s stainless steel shell and tube heat exchangers, reach out to our knowledgeable engineers.

  3. Investing in a CIP system: Here’s what you need to know

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    There are some basic priorities every food manufacturer shares: Make a quality product, minimize downtime and maintain sanitary conditions in the facility.

    Careful planning, strategy and expertise are necessary to accomplish these tasks. They also require an effective cleaning strategy that reaches all the little crevices throughout the food manufacturing process and properly sanitizes all surfaces.

    One much-favored equipment cleaning strategy throughout the food, beverage and dairy industries is the clean-in-place method. CIP systems are very effective in keeping equipment free of fouling and are regarded highly by 3-A Sanitary Standards

    Components of a CIP system

    There are many different configurationsand styles for CIP systems, though there are some features the majority of them have in common, Food Quality and Safety explained. These may include:

    • Pumps to add the chemical sanitizers.
    • Pumps and valves to bring in the supply of water.
    • A supply-side heat exchanger
    • A method of recording data (temperature, start/end times, amount of water and sanitizer used). The method can either be electronic or manual.

    All CIP also have a system of one or more tanks: Some have one tank, which allows for a combined rinse and wash cycle. Others have two tanks to separate the rinse and wash processes. Some CIP systems add a third tank to be used for a recovery process, and others have a fourth tank for alkaline, acid or sanitizer storage.

    “A missed spot may harbor contaminants and become a serious problem in the long-term.”

    Some CIP systems are one-pass systems that require careful chemical dosing; others are multi-pass systems which necessitate an additional tank to hold alkaline, acid or sanitizer – often the reason a fourth tank is included in the CIP system.

    Manufacturers designing CIP systems also have a variety of options for how to distribute the water and cleanersthroughout the equipment, FoodProcessing explained. They can use spray balls, which are more tailored to processes that don’t require very high water pressure. For those that do need highly pressurized water, rotary spray heads are used more often.

    In either case, it’s essential that the entire surface area is reached by the spray method to ensure a total and complete clean. A missed spot resulting from poor design or insufficient components may harbor contaminants and become a serious problem in the long term.

    Flow in a CIP system

    It’s important to consider what flow rate is really needed when designing a CIP system. One might immediately think that the higher the flow rate, the lower the risk for inadequately clean equipment, therefore coming to the conclusion that higher is always better. However, erring on the side of higher pressure can also mean higher energy, water and cleaning costs. It’s best to have it just high enough of a flow to be effective, but to not overdo it.

    If a problem with a CIP system emerges, managers may assume the solution is to increase the flow. However, Food Safety Magazine pointed out that there are alternative solutions that can improve cleaning processeswithout a major impact on costs.

    The most challenging parts of equipment to clean are dead-ends, crevices and corners, such as the bends in a u-tube shell and tube heat exchanger. In these instances, increased flow is often ineffective, as well as costly. Some different approaches to cleaning challenging parts of the equipment include:

    • Pulsating and varying the direction of the flow.
    • Ice-pigging, or pushing an ice slushy through the piping from the CIP.
    • Effervescence in the water, which creates localized wall-shear stresses.
    • Jet cleaning, or directing a high force to a specific area.

    Additionally, draining the processing line before engaging the CIP system may also help. This way, when the CIP is turned on and the water fills the lines, it’ll create a moment of harder force than if the water was already in the line.

    Documentation of CIP systems

    It’s a legal requirement that food manufacturers document their cleaning process Commercial Food Processing pointed out. Luckily, many CIP systems have automated documentation capabilities. However, just because it happens automatically doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be regularly and frequently monitored, or that manufacturers shouldn’t make adjustments or additions to the documentation process.

    “Food manufacturers document their cleaning process.”

    In the past, paper-based chart recorders would document data like temperature using pen drivers and ink supplies. Today, food manufacturers are moving away from this in favor of methods that are more reliable and less costly and time-consuming to maintain.

    Historians are data recorders that use specialized software to document a wide range of process points including flow and temperature.

    Event archiving is also a necessary aspect of having and properly maintaining a CIP system. Event archives include cycle start and end times, wash times and quantities of materials used in the cleaning. In the past, this was done by hand, though manual recording is no longer industry standard, nor does it meet regulatory compliance. Software innovations have been brought to market to address this need as well.

    In addition to the typical information recorded by event archivers of the past, software-based event recorders also include data like whether a process was interrupted (and why); whether an operator took additional steps before, during or after the cleaning process; whether a step was repeated or skipped; and whether the operator paused or aborted the cycle before it was completed. The software can compile all the relevant data into reports that can be printed, as well as import it to databases so it can be accessed more conveniently and compared to past reports.

    Most importantly, using software-based historians and event recorders makes regulatory compliance easier for manufacturers, and can more accurately identify emerging or existing problems in the CIP system.

    If you’re in the market to upgrade your CIP system, consider how a stainless steel shell and tube heat exchanger can help. The knowledgeable engineers at Enerquip know the importance of fabricating exchangers that meet stringent regulations such as 3-A and ASME-BPE.

  4. As frozen vegetable market expands, manufacturers must have adequate equipment

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    Vegetables are a staple in any healthy diet. They have key nutrients rarely found in other foods, and taste delicious with almost any meal.

    Fresh produce is delicious, but comes with some flaws. For one, it is seasonal, and when bought outside the natural growing season, vegetables can not only be pricey, but also lacking in flavor and color. Plus, fresh vegetables can expire quickly, giving consumers a limited time to enjoy their purchase.

    The answer to problems like this lies with frozen vegetables. Found in almost any grocery store in America, frozen veggies are not only widely available with a long shelf life, they are also often just as delicious as fresh ones, have the same nutritional value and are commonly more cost-effective.

    Consumers like it cold

    The frozen vegetable industry has grown significantly over the past half-decade. Currently, frozen fruits and vegetables comprise more than one-third of the fruit and vegetable processing industry, according to a report from IBISWorld.

    A number of factors have led to this expansion. For instance, many people have made a conscious effort to eat healthier, but the typical consumer is short on time for cooking. Frozen veggies offer a clear solution to this problem. Additionally, as the world’s middle class continues to grow, more people have access to freezers, allowing them to purchase and store frozen vegetables.

    The processed fruit and vegetable industry as a whole, which includes canned, dried and dehydrated pre-cut foods, pre-made meals and juices, is expected to grow 3 percent annually to $317.1 billion by 2021.

    As the industry continues to expand, and as more consumers show preferences for frozen vegetables, it’s crucial that manufacturers understand how to produce healthy and safe frozen products.

    How vegetables are frozen

    A consumer shopping in the frozen aisle of a typical grocery store may see printed on the side of a package a note boasting that the product inside was frozen just hours after picking. While this is likely true, there’s more to the process than the average consumer might expect.

    How Products Are Made broke down the manufacturing process of peas, a popular frozen vegetable. One of the key steps to the process, after picking and washing but before freezing, is the blanching.

    Blanching is the process of heating up a vegetable but not exactly cooking it. This is necessary for frozen vegetables because it eliminates enzymes and bacteria that could cause problems for consumers.

    PennState Extension explained that blanching also protects the flavor, texture and color of the vegetables. Plus, it shrinks the vegetables and removes air pockets, so more can fit into one bag and they take up less space.

    After blanching, the vegetables need to be cooled before being sorted, inspected and, finally, frozen.

    Turning up the heat

    Blanching requires vegetables to reach a certain temperature for a set period of time in order to inactivate destructive enzymes. According to Food Processing: Principles and Applications, the typical requirements in commercial blanching state that vegetables need to be brought to 212 degrees Fahrenheit or 150 degrees for a warm blanch, according to the Oregon Institute of Technology Geo-heat Center. In both cases, the potato is then cooled to 100 degrees.

    It’s important that frozen vegetable manufacturers know the specific requirements of the foods they are working with. But it’s also crucial that they know what kinds of equipment can help them safely and quickly achieve this state while also being conscious of cost.

    Shell and tube heat exchangers can be used in several capacities in these instances. First, they can be used to warm or cool the heating medium to prepare the food for blanching.

    Second, they can be used for heat recovery. In processes like blanching, heat and energy is given off and lost during the process, but a shell and tube heat exchanger can help capture it and reuse it elsewhere. It can even be used to continue to heat the water needed to blanch the vegetables.

    For information about how shell and tube heat exchangers can improve your vegetable processing operation, talk to the experts at Enerquip. Our team of engineers can work with you to find the perfect solution for your needs.