The Self-Optimising Clean-in Place (SOCIP) Development Project Leading-edge technology that could save the UK food industry £100m a year
SOCIP is a pioneering cleaning system that will use artificial intelligence to autonomously optimise the cleaning process for food manufacturing equipment. When the SOCIP Development Project is complete, it will enable the UK food industry to cement its global leading position of delivering world-first technology.
The project is led by Martec in collaboration with the University of Nottingham and the Centre for Sustainable Manufacturing and Recycling Technologies (SMART) at Loughborough University.
Current CIP technologies – the problem
Existing CIP processes are designed for the worst case scenario. Existing CIP systems cannot identify how much food or microbial debris has been removed, so cleaning takes place over a set time period rather than in relation to the amount of cleaning that is actually required.
As a result, equipment is often over-cleaned. This leads to unnecessary downtime, as cleaning can take as long as 5 hours a day – up to 50% longer than necessary – to ensure hygiene standards are met. The financial losses incurred by this lost production time are exacerbated by the over-use of energy, water and chemicals due to excessive cleaning.
SOCIP – a new and innovative solution
SOCIP will use artificially intelligent, multi-sensor technology to monitor and assess the amount of food and microbial debris that is present inside food manufacturing equipment during the detergent phase of the cleaning process.
When fouling is removed SOCIP’s intelligent software will halt the detergent phase so the rinse phase can be initiated as soon as the equipment is clean enough – maintaining hygiene standards and improving efficiency, as the equipment is only cleaned for as long as necessary.
SOCIP will therefore enable food manufacturers to make significant time and cost savings, increasing their productivity and profit margins whilst reducing the use of energy, water and chemicals.
Project objectives and benefits Short to medium term
Reduce equipment cleaning times by up to 50%, maximising productivity
Improve efficiency and cut costs by eliminating unnecessary cleaning
Protect the environment by reducing the use of water, energy and chemicals
Mitigate hygiene risks through real-time assessment of cleaning requirements
Automate cleaning processes to provide consistent, reproducible cleaning
Reduce consumer costs through greater production capacity, helping the food industry meet the demands of a fast-growing global population
Develop spin-off applications to benefit other industry sectors, e.g. pharmaceuticals, FMCG, cosmetics & toiletries
A medium-sized UK dairy typically spends £1m a year on cleaning, with lost production time accounting for at least half this cost. Introducing SOCIP could enable the dairy to reduce its annual water and energy use by around 270,000 litres and 2,400 Mwh respectively – resulting in net savings of £300,000 a year.
How SOCIP will work
SOCIP will use a combination of ultrasonic sensing and optical fluorescence imaging to measure the precise amount of food debris remaining within tanks, vessels or pipes during the detergent phase of the cleaning process.
The data will be fed into an intelligent decision-making support tool that will assess the extent of fouling and stop the detergent phase when the equipment has been cleaned to the required level. The rinse phase can then be initiated.
Using pre-programmed AI algorithms, the self-predicting system will be able to autonomously optimise the cleaning process in real-time, enabling consistent and reproducible results.
The SOCIP Development Project team have secured Innovate UK funding to carry out a 12 month feasibility study. This will test the multi-sensor inspection system in a purpose-built lab environment and develop the ground-breaking AI cognitive decision-making software that will integrate with the sensors and enable the system to work autonomously.
How to get involved
The feasibility study presents a unique opportunity for food and drink manufacturers to take early advantage of SOCIP technology. The project team would like to hear from any companies interested in taking part in the testing process, or in trialling a prototype system.
About Innovate UK
Innovate UK is the UK’s innovation agency. Supported by the Government, the organisation works with people and companies to drive the science and technology innovations that will grow the UK economy. This includes providing funding for projects like SOCIP, which present the strongest opportunities for success within Innovate UK’s focus areas.
Since 2007, Innovate UK has invested around £1.8 billion into UK innovation. They have helped over 7,600 companies to complete projects that have added £11.5 billion to the UK economy and created around 55,000 jobs. The SOCIP project team are proud to be working with this prestigious organisation to deliver world-first technology to the global food manufacturing sector.