7 Questions to Ask Before Building a CIP System

How do you know a system capable of being cleaned in place? Before creating clean-in-place (CIP) designs, know the answers to these seven strategic questions:

1. Have you worked with a chemical supplier to identify chemicals, contact time, and temperature?

A good chemical supplier can analyze the water the plant has, the soil, and select a chemical that will provide the fastest and most effective reaction to break it down. Often, they can recommend the time it will take to finish the reaction (contact time) and the best temperature to aid soil breakdown.

2. What metric will QA use to validate the system is clean?

Some process plants do different types of swab testing to determine if the system is clean. ATP is a common one. It’s always good to know upfront what the goal is.

3. Were your tanks designed to be CIP’able?

Older process systems often have tanks that are not designed to have spray balls used in them. For some of those systems, ports can be added to the tanks and will work effectively. However, with many tanks, issues such as solution leaks often occur when spray balls are added to an old tank that wasn’t designed to be cleaned in place.

4. Are your PD pumps CIP’able?

If your pump wasn’t created to be CIP’able, then it never will be. However, even with CIP’able pumps, you must have the proper setup. CIP’able positive displacement (PD) pumps often require additional valves and controls to clean during CIP. Also, in order to facilitate proper drainage, the ports must be installed vertically.

Drainable vs Not drainable PD pumps
5. Does your system have a variety of line sizes within the same process?

A good practice is to have five feet per second of velocity of cleaning solution. If the line sizes change, you have to plan for the largest segment. Sometimes that makes CIP pump sizing difficult, if not impractical unless you’re willing to make changes to the process.

6. Can you eliminate dead leg areas?

Cleaning solutions must be capable of flushing through all runs of piping for it to clean. If the product can wet a surface and you can’t flush across it, it is likely not getting cleaned properly.

Dead leg area in a tank
7. Do your process lines have the proper slope to allow for adequate drainage?

Water left in the line between steps in the cleaning cause carry-over, making cleaning less effective. Standing water in a system becomes a spot where bacteria will start to grow during downtimes.

Using these seven strategic questions, you can determine whether your system is able to be cleaned in place with only a few adjustments, or if it will require a major overhaul to implement the CIP process. By preparing ahead of time and Guidelines for Choosing the Right Type of CIP System, you’ll save yourself a lot of time and frustration.

Expert Bio

Michael David, Manager – Service and Repair

Michael David earned his engineering degree at Missouri University of Science and Technology, where the rigorous coursework taught both the theoretical background and the real-world applications of his education. Michael said he enjoys utilizing abstract, technically-minded thinking to arrive at a sensible solution.


Central States Industrial Equipment (CSI) is a leader in distribution of hygienic pipe, valves, fittings, pumps, heat exchangers, and MRO supplies for hygienic industrial processors, with four distribution facilities across the U.S. CSI also provides detail design and execution for hygienic process systems in the food, dairy, beverage, pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and personal care industries. Specializing in process piping, system start-ups, and cleaning systems, CSI leverages technology, intellectual property, and industry expertise to deliver solutions to processing problems. More information can be found at www.csidesigns.com.