ESC Experience Background in Dairy Processes
As noted in About ESC Electrol Specialties Company began fabricating CIP System components as a vendor to one of the nations largest suppliers of cleaning chemicals to the Dairy industry more than 50 years ago. This vendor was a major provider of the engineering services, components and skilled personnel required to design and install CIP able automated processes, for dairies initially, and later food and beverage processors. This vendor was actively involved with new facility construction, but more importantly, also developed and applied the methods of applying such new technology equally well to “recycle old dairies” via renovation projects planned to provide the exisitng facility increased capacity, efficiency and quality capabilities, and keep it running during the renovation process. This vendor worked on a design and install basis and used its own sanitary welding crews, even Internationally, through the mid 70s.
ESC’s early products included CIP system tanks and pump suction and discharge manifolds (CIP systems were field assembled at that time), chemical pumps, CIP Control Systems and U-Bend transfer panels then called Cleaning Hook-Up Stations. ESC supplied the above components for the first three of the nations dairies designed to combine automated CIP, partial automation of process flow, and welded piping systems in 1960, and also supplied the complete Process/CIP Control Systems for two of these projects. As early as 1963 ESC was a major fabricator of CIP systems and relay-logic based control systems, and in that single year, at one point in time, had the CIP units and control panels for seven new dairies in various areas of its production facility at the same time. As the major renovation projects began, also in 1962-63, ESC began shop fabricating parts of the piping system. Air-operated valves were combined in valve groups, also called valve arrays, valve manifolds, or valve clusters, all common names for a shop welded group of 2-3 or more valves, often on a supporting structure. The photo at the right illustrates a valve array designed to fill three raw milks storage tanks and then supply that milk to an HTST pasteurizer. This valve manifold replaced the previous use of headers with manually operated plug valves, sometimes CIP cleaned, but more often, at that time, taken down, washed and reassembled on a daily basis. Directly behind the valve array is a St St box that penetrated the wall to permit air and electrical connections to be installed in the warehouse area behind the tanks.
As field experience revealed more problems, ESC was asked to respond with new approaches to solving the ever new problems in a variety of projects. Several years before the mid-80s Electrol Specialties had already accumulate more than 20 of experience in supplying up to 40 percent (in value) of the content of the total Process/CIP Automation systems. Components custom fabricated for an impressive list of more than 60 projects for corporate, co-operative, and private (generally family) owned businesses included:
- Complete Process/CIP Control Systems comprised of large cubicles on the production floor or later control consoles and panels in a Control Room.
- StSt Duct work and cable trays to route control wiring and instrumentation sensors from the sensing point to the control instruments (before the development of PLC and computer based control systems)
- Instrument enclosures, commonly referred to as Air-Output Boxes to house solenoid valves and level sensor devices close to the point of installation.
- Pump bases securely fixed in the sanitary floor to support pumps so that the heads could be welded to the piping and the motos slid back for seal replacement.
- Air-operated valve manifold assemblies (or valve clusters) of four to more than one-hundred valves, often of various sizes to meet flow rate needs, mounted horizontally or vertically
- HTST Constant Level Tanks (known also by dairymen as balance tanks) with pod outlets for effective operation for brief periods at low level to facilitate use of highly automated HTST Product-Separate systems to automatically chase water with milk, milk with water, or 2.0% milk with 3.25% milk, automatically changing flow paths on basis of time, and often directing the product/product or product/water mixture to a milk recovery tank for use in by-product blending. Photo at left shows Constant Level Tank and HTST Recycle Valve Manifold.
- HTST Holding Tubes, mounted on frame, with the Flow-Diversion valve mounted also, is shown in photo at right.
- A major portion of the piping system support were often shop fabricated for attachment to StSt stubs mounted to the ceiling structure above the false ceiling by the mechanical contractor. Pipe spacing and pitch was engineer designed and built into such supports. See large photo upper left for ductwork and hangers.
All of these specialized components were fabricated in accordance with the sanitary design principles current in 3-A Standards, the PMO, and ASME/BPE standards. The term “sanitary design” applies in different manners to product contact surfaces and non-product contact surfaces.
Digital control came into being in the early 70s, in the beginning as dedicated sub-systems for CIP control and meter-based continuos blending or standardizing. These dedicated controls were easy to interface to the hard-wired relay logic control. In the mid 70s, HTST Constant-Level tank & Recycle Valve Array Mini-Computers and PLCs began to full replace all hard wired components, thought operator interface was still via the same rotary switches and push-button/pilot light devices of the previous 2-1/2 decades. Then, in the mid-80s the personal computer monitor and keyboard replaced these ancient devices, and a few years later graphic display of the process/CIP schematic was the practice. The photo at the right has an HTST Holding Tube and Flow-Diversion valve identical to those of the previous 35 years. The Constant Level tank, however, is now equipped with a dome top and manway, and is fitted with a spray device for spray CIP during the HTST CIP program which uses this tank as the solution tank. The HTST Digital Age Dairy Control Room Recycle valve array is above and behind the tank and in the foreground is a St St cabinet which contains a vitamin feed pump and supply jug, The newest feature, however, is a magnetic flow meter in the center of the photo, which in combination with a VFD based centrifugal pump serves as the HTST timing system. The digital output of the meter, converted to gallon pulses, also serves as the basis for the HTST Product Separate System, and discharge of pre-set volumes of all products to the pasteurized surge tanks.
The photo above is of the associated control room (the HTST can be seen through the window) where an early IBM-DOS based personal computer ran a proprietary SAIWARE based control system to duplicate the previous rotary switches, push buttons, and thumwheel inputs and registers on the screen, a methodology used only until replaced by later graphics. The wall mounted panels contain only the FDA required legal control instruments required at that time. All else is in software.
The systems and components shown and described on this page were typical of more than a hundred projects, new facilities, and renovation projects supported by ESC in an ever shrinking dairy industry, made possible by the new technology.