New Cleaning Equipment for Olive Mills Saves Water, Money, Study Finds

Cleaning with a SILAC system, which uses foam-based detergent ad air pressure, reduces the amount of time to clean milling equipment and saves water and money.
By Máté Pálfi
Jul. 13, 2023 13:12 UTC

According to research from Juan Vilar Strategic Consultants, olive oil mills could save €85,000 annu­ally by adopt­ing a new sys­tem to clean their milling equip­ment at the end of the har­vest.

Thoroughly clean­ing the milling equip­ment at the end of each har­vest sea­son is crit­i­cally impor­tant to the suc­cess of the fol­low­ing year’s har­vest.

Organic mate­r­ial left in the equip­ment over the sum­mer and autumn facil­i­tates the devel­op­ment of mold or bac­te­ria that will result in lower-qual­ity olive oil pro­duc­tion the next sea­son.

See Also:How Olives Are Processed Into Oil

The research found that a SILAC sys­tem, which uses com­pressed air and a foamy alka­line deter­gent to remove olive residue and clean each piece of milling equip­ment, saves money, time and water.

Traditionally, mill oper­a­tors would either man­u­ally break down the mill equip­ment and clean each piece or keep the equip­ment intact and use a fixed-place or portable CIP (clean-in-place) sys­tem.

Traditional CIP sys­tems con­nect to each main com­po­nent of the mill and pump water and two types of deter­gent through the equip­ment to remove any left­over residue and leave the equip­ment clean and san­i­tized for the fol­low­ing har­vest.

A tra­di­tional CIP requires sev­eral steps, includ­ing a pre­lim­i­nary rinse where water is pumped through the equip­ment. This is fol­lowed by a wash using an alka­line cleaner with a basic pH and another rinse. Next, an acidic cleaner is used, fol­lowed by a dis­in­fec­tant, and a final rinse is com­pleted.

Traditional CIP sys­tems also are com­monly used by dairy farm­ers and beer brew­ers to clean their machines.

The SILAC sys­tem is a type of CIP. However, it uses com­pressed air and an alka­line foam deter­gent fol­lowed by a water rise. This elim­i­nates sev­eral of the steps that involve rins­ing from tra­di­tional CIPs.

According to data from Masul Chemicals, a com­pany that spe­cial­izes in clean­ing olive milling equip­ment, as cited by the study, auto­mated clean­ing using a CIP requires 46.5 per­cent less water and 43.5 per­cent less deter­gent than man­ual clean­ing.

The auto­mated sys­tem also requires fewer peo­ple to oper­ate, with one per­son able to per­form the func­tions that other work­ers need dur­ing the man­ual clean­ing process.

This pres­sure machine mainly cleans all sur­faces (machin­ery, hop­pers, bands, mix­ers, tanks, floors, walls, etc.),” the researchers wrote. The most out­stand­ing fea­ture of the foam sys­tem is the sig­nif­i­cant cost sav­ings, such as deter­gents, labor (time ded­i­cated to clean­ing), energy and above all water, which is cur­rently a scarce resource.”

Cleaning will be the next rev­o­lu­tion within the oil mill sec­tor, requir­ing it to be estab­lished with spe­cial empha­sis as a strat­egy to increase the qual­ity of the oils,” they con­cluded.


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