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Ultrasonic cleaning replaces hours of hand-cleaning


August 25, 2008
By Canadian Pizza

Topics

basketIn
the food service and processing industry, where devices to be used for
food and beverage preparation are manufactured or in which food and
beverages are packaged, cleanliness is the most important factor.

basketIn the food service and processing industry, where devices to be used for food and beverage preparation are manufactured or in which food and beverages are packaged, cleanliness is the most important factor. One instance of shipping an unclean item or tainted food or beverage can mean the end of a million-dollar enterprise. For many sectors of these industries, ensuring cleanliness has meant endless hours of hand-scrubbing and inspection by employees, costing valuable labor and time. But for many, ultrasonic cleaning is changing all that.

“We used to have 3 people scrubbing for 45 minutes to clean one unit,” says Stephen Pratt, Manufacturing Engineer with Wilbur Curtis, leading manufacturer of commercial coffee and tea brewing machines.

The units being referred to are part of a project in which Wilbur Curtis refurbishes older commercial coffee brewers for customers—and these units come in by the truckload. Because the units had been dispensing coffee, hot chocolate and similar products, they were rife with coffee grounds and stains. In order to reach all parts of the machines they had to be torn apart in a special area and each part then had to be cleaned. “The framework and every little trough and gear had to be scrubbed carefully by hand,” Pratt says. “It was a laborious process.  It was also difficult to reach every nook and cranny in each machine as some couldn’t even be seen.”

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Like an ever-growing number of food-industry professionals, Pratt recently discovered the efficiency of ultrasonic cleaning. “One person can now place the entire unit in an ultrasonic machine, and in about 10 minutes it’s done,” he says. The units also no longer need to be taken apart—they can be thoroughly cleaned while fully assembled.

Ultrasonic cleaning utilizes specialized environmentally friendly but effective solutions, heat, water, and ultrasonic sound waves. Users have not only found the method to be more cost-effective in terms of labor and time, they’ve also found it to do a more effective job of cleaning due to cavitations within the liquid reaching areas unable to be cleaned by human hands or other devices. Pratt is utilizing ultrasonic cleaning equipment from Omegasonics of Simi Valley, California.

Omegasonics created a special-sized unit for Wilbur Curtis so that they could clean 2 of their units at once, without the previous headache of having to disassemble them. Now, not only can 1 person clean 2 units in 10 minutes, but that 1 person can be handling other tasks while the units are in the ultrasonic tank. This is compared to the previous method in which 3 people took a dedicated 45 minutes to clean 1 unit.

Several soft drink manufacturers utilize ultrasonic cleaning for filler valves, through which product is passed in its final stage into containers. Because of syrup passing constantly over the valves, they can develop a residue which must constantly be removed; Ultrasonic cleaning has been found to be the most effective method of doing so, after years of labor and time-intensive brushing with an acid-based solution. Not only is the ultrasonic method saving considerable time and effort, but it is also safer for employees as since it uses non-toxic, water-based solutions. Ultrasonic has been used for thorough cleaning of bottles in soda bottling plants before refilling, as well. 

The method has been found in many other diverse applications throughout the food industry, including the cleaning of baking pans in bakeries, the frequent cleaning of vent hoods in canneries, the cleaning of returned water dispensers used in offices and anywhere else thorough cleaning is required.

“The ultrasonic cleaning method has proven extremely beneficial in many different applications across many industries which previously required labor-intensive hand washing, often with toxic chemicals,” said Frank Pedeflous, President of Omegasonics. “These include the cleaning of automotive engine parts, industrial machine parts, jewelry and accessories, utility machinery, and even restoration of fire-damaged items. We have now seen the dramatic cost reduction and health benefits to workers that can occur in the food industry, as well.”

In an industry in which cleanliness must always come first, ultrasonic is the most cost-effective and thorough solution.


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