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Keeping Food Production Lines Clean at Deeside Cereals

Deeside Cereals was established in 1985 and today the Flintshire-based food production company creates a wide variety of own-branded cereals and cereal bars for retailers across the UK and Europe. Hygiene is key to their success and is integral to all of its procedures and systems. The company has been accredited to ISO 14001 since 2006 and is currently in the process of aligning its approach for environmental targets to the Food & Drink Federation (FDF) five-fold environmental ambitions and is developing targets for the reduction of CO2 emissions; reduction of water use; zero food and packaging waste to landfill; packaging requirement in absolute terms; and fewer and friendlier food miles within its overall supply chain.

Deeside Cereal Bar

Deeside Cereals’ bars contain ingredients such as toffee, glucose and honey

The adoption of dry steam cleaning technology has helped the company to achieve some of these ambitions. In addition to offering impressive reductions in water and energy use, the technology has also helped increase productivity through reduced downtimes for cleaning lines between batches. The company runs two cereal bar production lines – A 600mm wide belt line is used to produce smaller batches, while a 1,200mm wide white PU belt line is used to produce the more regular product lines.

The cereal bars unsurprisingly contain lots of sticky ingredients, posing a high risk of slowing down production with belt “carryback” as well as a hygiene problem.

Karl Johnson, Hygiene & Environment Manager at Deeside Cereals, explained more about the issues that soiling can pose on the food production lines: “It is vital that any residual soiling from one batch is removed before we start another. We need to ensure that any potential allergens are removed as well as any micros and enterons and we need to make sure that the belts are not left with any residual moisture after cleaning, as this would provide a good environment for the growth of moulds and yeast.”

The company has recently adopted a dry steam cleaning regime which has proven to be very successful in addressing all of these concerns. “Dry steam cleaning only requires small amounts of water, while the heat of the steam ensures that the belts are left dry after cleaning,” explained Johnson. The steam cleaners employed at Deeside Cereals use super-heated steam – at temperatures of up to 175°C – which ensures that any residual moisture is instantly removed via the vacuum unit.

Originally water usage cost Deeside Cereals £4.56 per tonne of finished product, this cost has been reduced to only £3.59 thanks to the introduction of Dry Steam Cleaning.

Food production line operatives at Deeside Cereals are responsible for making sure that the belts are cleaned regularly, with each operator being responsible for cleaning practices within their working area. Using traditional wet cleaning methods required the use of lots of hot water, which was costly in terms of the energy needed to heat the water. The overuse of water, and energy to heat it, was becoming a problem that the company wanted to address and, for this reason, it moved to the use of dry foam cleaning products which used far less water than normal manual cleaning. “However, this solution still required operatives to use water to rinse away the foam and, as we already knew, if this was not properly dried off it would lead to residual moisture remaining on the belt.”

Eventually, the company turned to us and our dry steam cleaning technology, in the hope that this would offer a better solution. We suggested the use of an automated belt cleaner in the form of a Belt Sanitation Unit (BSU).

The Introduction of our Belt Sanitation Units

Today Deeside Cereals employs these automated BSUs on both of its bar production lines. On the smaller bar production line a 10Kw SteamForce 10 steamer unit powers a 600mm BSU and works with a 3Kw industrial wet vacuum. On the larger belt, a 20kw SteamForce 20 steamer works with a 1200mm BSU and a second 3Kw industrial wet vacuum, fixed to the underside of the belt. The units were installed during scheduled production breaks so no additional downtimes were required.

The BSU covers the entire width of the belt. The standard set-up of the dry steam cleaning unit consists of two chambers; the first applies a blast of dry steam to the surface of the belt to loosen and saponify any dirt. The second chamber then removes the loosened soiling through a vacuum/ suction system straight after the dry steam treatment. The system is proven to achieve decontamination on a surface. E.coli, Listeria & Salmonellae, for example, are reduced by 99.9%. In addition, allergen product residues of almond, peanut, sesame and soya will fall below the required threshold value of 5ppm so will no longer require declaration.

BSU in action

Our BSU in action at Deeside Cereals’ factory

Operation of the BSU is simple enough, only requiring to be primed before use. The dry, superheated steam ensures the belts on the food production line are left sanitised, dry and allergen-free while the vacuum removes any remaining residue. Our BSUs are built by engineering fabricators in the UK to Osprey’s specific design and specification. To ensure its suitability for use in the food and beverage industry the head of the unit is made from industrial grade stainless steel and food grade nylon.

The steam cleaners can be set up to operate either continuously or periodically during production and are used to thoroughly clean the lines between batches; ensuring the removal of any soils and allergens helping to maintain optimal production speeds. “All that is required of the operators is to ensure that the steam systems have enough water. This requires, on average three checks per day,” said Johnson.

“Previously, cleaning the belts would take in the region of three hours. Since the installation of the steam cleaning system, this had been reduced to between 60 - 90 minutes”

- Karl Johnson, Hygiene & Environment Manager at Deeside Cereal

“The introduction of this integrated dry steam cleaning solution has dynamically changed our cleaning processes and it really has been a roaring success for us on many different levels,” continued Johnson.

“It has made clean ups between production runs much quicker. Previously, by the end of each batch, the build-up of soiling on the belts, rollers and scrapers required lengthy downtimes to clean off.” Reduced cleaning times on these food production lines has greatly contributed to increased productivity. “The time spent cleaning the belts has been drastically reduced since the installation of the steam cleaners. Previously, it would take somewhere in the region of three hours. Since the installation of the steam cleaning system, cleaning takes between one hour and 90 minutes, dependent on the soiling,” said Johnson.

Producing more efficient food production

Making changes to an existing cleaning regime can often lead to concerns about whether operators will embrace the change. According to Johnson this was absolutely not a problem at Deeside Cereals. “Once we were able to show operators the advantages of the new system and the time, water and energy reductions it could offer, they were very comfortable with the change.”

The company had identified that water use in the factory had been creeping up insidiously over the years. “As part of my role as hygiene & environment manager, I calculated that water costs the company £4.56 per tonne of finished product. Today, that figure has been reduced to £3.59 per tonne of product. Since September 2019, when the BSUs were adopted, we have made water reduction savings of £7,000 and I attribute much of this directly to the use of the steam cleaners,” said Johnson. “Further, we now do not need to use any chemical cleaning products or detergents on the bar belts.”

The solution has not interfered with any of the company’s compliance or audit requirements. “Indeed, we have found it to be beneficial,” concluded Johnson. “When we have hosted visitors and auditors to the facility they have all been very impressed with the dry steam cleaning solution. It really has ticked a lot of boxes for us – not just hygiene.”

If you want to find out more about how our dry steam cleaning solutions can help your company improve its environmental hygiene and reduce reliance on chemical cleaning and water consumption give us a call on +44 (0) 1242 513 123 or email us at sales@ospreydc.com.

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