Are My Membrane Cleaning Protocols Up to Highest Standard?

By Sani Marc | 2021-12-15
Beverage and Bottling
CIP Systems
Membrane Systems

Does your facility use membranes? Don’t miss this interview!

Dominic Santerre, a Sani Marc specialist with our dairy plant team can help you find out! Dominic has been with Sani Marc for seven years and has more than 15 years of experience as a technical representative. In his day-to-day work, Dominic has developed extensive expertise in cleaning membranes, a piece of production equipment widely used in dairy processing plantsWe asked Dominic a few questions about membrane cleaning and he was more than happy to answer! 

Q: What is the most important thing to consider when cleaning membranes?

A: The most important thing is to respect the established cleaning parameters of chemical concentration, temperature, mechanical action and cleaning time for the type of membrane you are cleaning.  

When it comes to cleaning heavily soiled membranes, simply increasing the concentration of chemicals used is not an option as this may raise the pH beyond the membrane manufacturer’s recommendationsChemicals that are either too alkaline or too acidic are corrosive and will destroy a membrane. Mechanical action is also a factor, but overall, the key is to respect the limits established by the manufacturer for cleaning and production. 

Q: How often should a membrane be cleaned and what do we need to consider?   

A: This depends on the type of production and the concentration of solids. The more concentrated the solids, the more frequently the membrane will need to be cleaned.  

Water quality is extremely important. Hard water or water with a high microbial load can cause problems during cleaning. Moreover, production plants in certain regions are subject to water restrictions, which can affect cleaning time and the choice of products we use, so optimizing the volume of water used is something that can’t be ignored. 

The time allotted for cleaning is also a factor. Some processors have no problem with 8 hours of down time for a cleaning session, while for others, saving 20 minutes of cleaning time can make all the difference. 

Q: What are the biggest challenges you face in cleaning membrane systems? 

A: The biggest challenge we have is that most operators are intimidated by this huge abstract piece of machinery. We need people who know and understand that when issues arise in production, they have an impact on the membrane. Membranes are like living creatures; no two cleanings are the same and no two productions are identical, so you need to pay close attention to your system.  

The lifespan of a membrane is about a year, but for some systems it’s more than that, possibly two to three years. But if you repeatedly neglect your cleaning and ignore the parameters mentioned earlier, your membrane won’t perform as well. It will soil more quickly and require more chemicals to clean and more frequent replacement. 

Q: How can we choose the right membrane for our needs?

A: Typically, the membrane manufacturer would be your first contact. They will perform an analysis to determine your needs based on production volume, desired results, etc.

Q: What does a day in the life of a membrane system expert look like?

A: When we are called to a client’s production plant, we spend a lot of time observing their system and asking questions. We raise any red flags and issues that could lead to problems in the future and we open a dialogue with the client. We remain in constant communication for any questions or concerns so the client is always supported.

Q: What support does Sani Marc provide for clients with membranes?

A: We have service agreements with our clients to conduct on-site visits according to a set schedule. Clients are welcomed and encouraged to contact us when they see something in their system that they’re unsure of or when they need advice or reassurance. It’s a team effort between Sani Marc, the client, and even the membrane manufacturer, to optimize the system. 

We provide training as well – always making sure the users are aware of the importance of respecting cleaning parameters. We often have a more complete history of the processes and the system, which can be very helpful to the manager in charge.  

Q: What is the objective of your team?

A: On the Dairy team, our philosophy has always been continuous optimization with the goal of reducing cleaning time, water and chemical consumption, and extending the lifespan of the membranes. We also offer a software that monitors cleaning parameters and proposes modifications. 

No matter how complex your system, having the right expert at your side makes all the difference!

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