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Polar Intelligent Cleaning Solutions (Polar ICS), an industrial cleaning company, has launched a rapid, effective cleaning service for food production machines, equipment and cold stores in the UK.

The cleaning technology is based on dry-ice (or cryogenic) blasting, which often enables production equipment to be cleaned while still in operation, minimising downtime and maximising machine availability for customers.

Polar ICS, based in Rutland, claims that its cleaning service, which can be tailored to suit individual customers, is based on technology developed in Denmark.

To date, the cryogenic cleaning technology has been relatively unused in the UK, but it could make a significant difference to a food producer’s bottom line, according to the company.

Richard Wildsmith, director of Polar ICS, said: ‘Compared to traditional, labour-intensive methods that food manufacturers use to clean their equipment, such as steam cleaning, solvents, chemicals and jet washing, Polar ICS’s dry-ice cleaning solution reduces the cleaning time by around 90 per cent on average.

‘In addition, the cleaning process itself is non-toxic, non-conductive and non-abrasive,’ he added.

According to Wildsmith, the cleaning service is suitable for food producers – particularly fresh food companies – that are suffering from prolonged downtime, costly wear and tear to machinery, labour-intensive cleaning programmes, high costs for secondary waste disposal and/or ineffective cleaning performance.

He said: ‘These companies need to re-evaluate their cleaning processes with a view to improving productivity, cutting cleaning costs, reducing machine downtime and maximising the life of their equipment.’ Dry-ice blasting uses small, compact dry-ice pellets that are accelerated in a jet of compressed air.

These pellets strike the surface at the speed of sound; this cracks and loosens the coating on the surface that is being treated.

The low temperature (-79C) of the dry-ice pellets makes the coating brittle, which cracks and loosens the surface, allowing the dry ice to permeate the coating.

The dry ice then sublimes (passes from a solid state to vapour), which leads to a 700-fold increase in volume – an effect that lifts the coating off the surface.

Dry ice vaporises on contact with treated surfaces, which offers advantages compared to traditional blasting methods.

First, there is no secondary waste material, such as sand, plastic or glass.

The only waste from the process is the coating that has been dislodged by the treatment, which can be swept or vacuumed.

This also means that the technology can be used to clean difficult-to-reach surfaces.

If traditional blasting methods were used, residual-blasting materials would collect in these inaccessible corners, according to the company.

Dry-ice blasting is a completely dry process and works without chemicals, solvents and water.

The process is suitable for cleaning electrical equipment, machinery and other water- or moisture-sensitive applications.

The technology can also be used with a range of blasting nozzles, which means normally inaccessible areas on machines can also be cleaned effectively and quickly.

Dry-ice blasting also eliminates the need for pre-soaking from the cleaning process, saving time and reducing costs for the customer.

Wildsmith said: ‘Traditional cleaning methods often require the machines to be disassembled and moved to a designated cleaning area.

‘Polar ICS’s method allows cleaning to be carried out while the machine is still running, without the need for dismantling and without the need for drying or cooling down time.

‘Costly production downtime is therefore reduced.

‘We recently visited a UK food manufacturing plant in order to clean an automatic weighing machine that was being used primarily to pack citrus fruits.

‘The weighing units were positioned on top of the machine and so were difficult to access.

‘The machine had a very high build-up of dirt, wax from the fruit and plu labels.

‘By using an extended lance, our engineer was able to successfully clean each unit in situ.

‘The customer could not use traditional cleaning methods here because there were multiple electronic weighing mechanisms fitted to the machine, which were sensitive to moisture.

‘The entire machine was cleaned and ready to work again within two and a half hours,’ he added.

Polar ICS’s cryogenic blasting service complies with all relevant cleaning and food hygiene standards, including Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP), British Retail Consortium (BRC) and Soil Association guidelines.

The cleaning solutions can also be used to clean other machines and electrical equipment used in industrial environments, including machine tools, electric motors and drives, assembly machines and conveyors.

Polar Intelligent Cleaning Solutions

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