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  1. Electropolishing vs. Passivation of Stainless Steel

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    The aesthetics or physical properties of metal may often see improvement by the application of various finishing techniques. For example, in custom metal basket applications, applying an appropriate finish will impact the functionality of the basket as much as the base material does. 

    Two of the most popular finishing methods used for stainless steel include electropolishing and passivation. At Highland Equipment, our customers often ask: Is electropolishing the same as passivation? While both finishing methods improve the material’s durability and resistances, there are distinct differences to consider when choosing between electropolishing vs. passivation.  


    Electropolishing is a common finishing technique for the food and beverage, medical and dental, pharmaceutical, electrical, and semiconductor industries. The electropolishing process leaves a smooth, near-flawless finish. Manufacturers often use this method to impart non-stick qualities onto goods and components, making them easy to clean and ensuring process materials don’t stick to them during production.

    The process uses a temperature-controlled chemical bath and an electric current to dissolve the metal’s outer surface layer. Electropolishing removes microscopic surface imperfections and eliminates discoloration from spot welds. It is a fast, cost-effective solution, even for parts with complex geometries.

    Electropolishing is compatible with most stainless steels and a variety of other metals. Metal alloys that are good candidates for electropolishing include:

    • Stainless steel: 200-300 series, 400 series, precipitating hardening grade, and unusual
    • Nitinol
    • Titanium
    • Aluminum
    • Brass
    • Carbon steel
    • Copper
    • Nickel
    • Specialty alloys


    Passivation is similar to electropolishing in that it uses a chemical bath to remove contaminants acquired during the manufacturing process. However, passivation uses an acidic solution that does not require an electrical current. Passivation won’t change the material’s aesthetic appearance, but it will improve the oxide layer that protects stainless steel. 

    Passivation requires a thorough understanding of the type of alloy and how the chemical bath solution will interact with it. An inexperienced finisher using the wrong passivation solution could strip much more from the surface than intended and damage the workpiece beyond repair. 

    The passivation process provides an excellent way to remove free iron and other contaminants from the surface of many stainless steel grades. Some stainless steel materials aren’t appropriate for this finishing method, however. When the steel has low chromium and nickel levels, or if the parts have been welded or brazed, passivation is typically not the appropriate finishing method.

    Choosing the Right Finishing Process

    Electropolishing vs Passivation

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    When selecting stainless steel electropolishing vs. passivation, consider the following application-specific factors:


    • Offers an ideal solution for removing microscopic contaminants or imperfections
    • Strips the entire outer layer of metal
    • Will remove heat tinting and oxide scales
    • Suitable for parts with complex geometries


    • Does not require electrical current
    • Removes free iron and other surface contaminants
    • Won’t remove heat tinging or oxide scales but strengthens the oxide layer
    • Gentler than electropolishing

    The choice comes down to the application for the stainless steel. For a flawless finish or to finish components with complex shapes and angles, electropolishing offers an ideal solution. Passivation is a less complicated and gentler technique used to remove surface contaminants and enhance corrosion resistance without peeling off the material’s outermost layer.

    Working with Highland for Sanitary Stainless Steel Process Equipment

    At Highland Equipment, we offer passivation as one of our many value-added services. Our staff can help you to determine if passivation is the right finishing method for your project. For more information about our passivation capabilities, please contact us today. 

  2. Factory Acceptance Testing vs. Site Acceptance Testing

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    Both Factory Acceptance Testing (FAT) and Site Acceptance Testing (SAT) involve extensive testing of systems or system components to determine or verify compliance with the preapproved specifications. While there are similarities between the two, they are distinct processes. The following blog post outlines the key differences between FAT and SAT.

    What Is a Factory Acceptance Test?

    Passivation Methods to Preserve Stainless Steel Products

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    Factory Acceptance Testing occurs at the vendor’s test facility before the completed equipment proceeds to the customer site. These tests verify whether the equipment meets all functionality and performance requirements as detailed by the User Requirements Specification (URS) document written by the manufacturer and executed by the customer or customer’s representative. They also provide vendors with an opportunity to identify issues and customers with an opportunity to make modification suggestions prior to shipment, both of which reduce the amount of time and money spent on resolutions and ensure the equipment is ready for use upon arrival. 

    While FAT operations range from short and simple to comprehensive and complex, they are generally more rigorous than Site Acceptance Tests since vendors want to ensure the equipment fully complies with the terms of the contract. The tests conducted vary depending on equipment, customer, and vendor requirements. However, they generally cover the following: 

    • Inspection: Does the equipment conform to the final design and drawing specifications?
    • Contract Audit: Are all contractual obligations fulfilled?
    • Water Testing: Does the equipment operate as intended?

    Some of the typical issues uncovered by factory acceptance testing include:

    • Quality or craftsmanship problems
    • Improper labeling and guarding
    • Insufficient throughput 
    • Lack of sanitary design 

    What Is a Site Acceptance Test?

    Site Acceptance Testing occurs at the customer’s test facility after the completed equipment is delivered to the customer site. These tests verify whether the equipment meets and/or exceeds the functionality and performance requirements written up by the customer themselves. They occur after all commissioning tasks for the equipment are completed but before installation. 

    SAT operations typically involve running the equipment for one to two weeks to see if it performs as expected and if any major problems occur. If the equipment does not perform as expected or a problem arises, the vendor and customer must discuss how to resolve the situation. If the equipment does perform as expected and no problems follow, the customer can have peace of mind that the system does its job effectively and safely. 

    Highland Equipment: Ensuring Equipment Quality With Comprehensive Testing/Inspection Procedures

    At Highland Equipment, we do our part to assure our customers that our equipment does what it needs to do. Our team employs a variety of non-destructive testing (NDT) methods to carefully inspect our systems and verify they comply with the highest standards. To learn more about our testing and inspection capabilities, contact us today.


  3. Passivation Methods to Preserve Stainless Steel Products

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    What is the Passivation of Stainless Steel?

    Untreated stainless steel has a chemically reactive surface and can rust over time. However, the process of passivation — chemically washing the body of a stainless steel part — protects the surface and results in a longer-lasting item that better resists corrosion and rusting. Passivation removes free iron from stainless steel surfaces, which is highly advantageous for newly machined and manufactured parts. Some of the benefits of passivation include:

    • Resistance to the elements: The iron in stainless steel is the reactive component in the alloy. Chromium and nickel (the other metals in the alloy) are much less reactive to air, moisture, and water. Because the acid wash removes the surface iron, only the passive chromium and nickel oxide layer get exposed to air.
    • Reapplication: Stainless steel parts can undergo the passivation process multiple times without weakening or adverse reactions, allowing operators to deal with iron exposure from physical impact or damage. Regular passivation processes extend the lifespan of the item.
    • Reduced maintenance costs: Passivation reduces the risk of broken parts, contamination from rust, and unscheduled downtime.

    The Passivation Process

    Passivation is a three-step process that can happen immediately following fabrication and machining. 


    1. Technicians thoroughly clean the stainless steel part to remove grease, dirt, debris, and shavings. This step ensures that the acid wash reaches every inch of the surface to dissolve any unwanted free iron. It also reduces the risk of flash attacks—dark spots and deposits that stain the passivated surface.
    2. The parts are placed in a passivating bath of either nitric acid or citric acid. The components sit in the bath until all of the iron in the surface layers has dissolved.
    3. Testing verifies the removal of all iron from the surface, after which passivation is complete. Different grades of stainless steel may undergo slightly different testing methods. The most common test involves swabbing a test part with copper sulfate to see if plating copper develops.

    Considerations for Tank Passivation

    Passivation experts can carefully balance different factors to tailor the passivation process for each batch of stainless steel products. Some of the unique characteristics that can change between batches include:

    • The chemical composition of the passivation bath: The bath will use nitric or citric acid, depending on the stainless steel grade, the application specifications, and the environmental concerns of the company.
    • Submersion duration: Different parts need to be submerged in the acid for different lengths of time to ensure all iron gets dissolved.

    These factors and others will play a role in the efficacy of the free iron removal process and the final surface quality, which affects the service life and aesthetic appeal of the final product. 

    Choose Highland Equipment for High-Quality Stainless Steel Passivation

    At Highland Equipment, we specialize in thorough passivation processes that result in high-quality, aesthetically pleasing stainless steel components. We offer a full suite of passivation surfaces to meet the finishing needs of numerous product types. Contact us or request a quote to see how our passivation services can support your project. 


  4. How Do Companies Utilize Borescoping to QC Fabrications?

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    Borescopes are optical instruments that facilitate visual inspection of hard-to-reach spaces, such as the inside of narrow pipes or tubes. They consist of a lens or camera on one end, a flexible, semi-rigid, or rigid tube and/or fiber assembly, and a display on the other end. Industry professionals utilize them to inspect a wide range of industrial parts and products during manufacturing operations and maintenance and repair work. By detecting defects in components—e.g., cracks or leaks in welds—that need to be resolved, they help improve ROI and extend component life.

    What Is a Borescope Inspection?

    Borescopes are commonly used in non-destructive testing (NDT) operations involving components with hard-to-reach cavities. Some have lights on the lens end to enhance visibility within the component during inspection operations, while others (video borescopes) have a recording function that makes it easier to maintain comprehensive documentation of inspections. Regardless of the design and configuration, they serve the same function: helping technicians inspect component areas that are difficult or impossible to reach without damaging or dismantling the object. These instruments allow for fast and easy diagnosis of component issues, such as blockages, corrosion, cracking, erosion, or weak welds.

    Borescope Inspection Procedure for Piping and Tubing

    One of the most common applications for borescopes is the inspection of pipes/tubes and fittings. They are used to determine and/or verify the integrity of longitudinal weld joints in manufactured pipes and tubes and orbital weld joints in connected pipe and tube assemblies.

    Common issues found in tube/pipe interiors include weld irregularities (which can lead to corrosion and buildup), gaps or light (which indicate an incomplete weld), and cracks or damage (which can cause malfunction). Catching these defects early on allows welders to rectify them before they cause more significant problems.

    Once pipes and tubes are thoroughly inspected and approved for use, they are employed in a wide range of industrial applications and processes, including, but not limited to, the following:

    • Food Processing
    • Brewery and Beverage Systems
    • Aseptic Dairy Processes
    • Pharmaceutical Manufacturing
    • Any Piping System that is welded

    Highland Equipment: How We Use Borescopes to Ensure Quality

    At Highland Equipment, we are fully aware of the important role borescopes play in inspection operations. By utilizing these tools to inspect the hard-to-reach areas of our piping system fabrications, we ensure the quality of each weld and the integrity of the overall system. To learn more about how we use borescopes to ensure fabrication quality, contact us today.

  5. Sanitary Welding

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    What Makes a Weld Sanitary?

    A sanitary weld is fully penetrated, which means the weld accesses the ID of the tube and that it creates a 100% structural joint. This type of weld has a smooth surface where it will contact any product, ensuring easy and reliable cleaning with no crevices or oxidation that could possibly harbor bacteria and other contaminants.

    To ensure a sanitary design, and be compliant with standards and regulations, all food-contact surfaces, including welds, should be:

    • Smooth
    • Impervious
    • Free of cracks and crevices
    • Nonporous
    • Nonabsorbent
    • Non-contaminating
    • Inert
    • Corrosion-resistant
    • Durable and maintenance-free
    • Nontoxic
    • Cleanable

    When you are creating a sanitary weld with stainless steel tubing or pipe, the weld must be purged with a highly pure inert gas to remove the hazardous gases released and built up during the welding process, which can otherwise pool and cause discoloration, contamination, and oxidation.

    The last step in creating a sanitary weld is a final inspection. A borescope is used to verify that the weld is fully penetrated and to identify any defects or contamination. Other NDT methods can also be employed. Weld defects include a lack of fusion to the base metal, root-pass cracking, and incomplete penetration.

    Types of Welds

    GTAW or TIG Welding

    The AWS D18.1/D18 Specification for Welding of Austenitic Stainless Steel Tube and Pipe Systems in Sanitary (Hygienic) Applications establishes that all sanitary welds for austenitic stainless steel tube and pipe are to be done using the gas tungsten arc welding (GTAW) process.

    The GTAW process, also known as tungsten inert gas (TIG) welding, is a clean, high-quality welding process, often used when a precision weld is required. GTAW outperforms other processes because it offers greater accuracy over the heat input to the weld area, producing a higher quality weld with a smaller heat-affected zone.

    The GTAW process works by creating an arc between a non-consumable tungsten electrode and a metal component to be welded. An inert gas, typically argon or helium, is used to shield the tungsten electrode from oxidation or contamination during the process. GTAW is suitable for most metals, including stainless steel, and produces a high-quality weld with little or no finishing work required.

    Orbital Welding

    The food and dairy industries are under increasing pressure to ensure the safety of their products by adhering to higher quality standards than ever before. This mounting pressure has increased industry demand for clean, smooth product contact surfaces, which has, in turn, led to technological advancements for the fabrication of process piping systems.

    One of the technological advancements to come from the growing needs of the food and dairy industries is orbital welding, now considered to be the standard for joining stainless steel tubes used for food processing. Orbital welding is an automated process that helps to minimize the risk of operator error in GTAW processes. The method uses a computer-controlled system to direct the arc current, feed, and speed, while allowing the orbital welding head to rotate around the assembly to produce consistent and repeatable weld profiles. At Highland Equipment, our team employs orbital welding to ensure consistent welds whenever possible.

    Employ Sanitary Welding Capabilities

    The sanitary welding process is thoroughly standardized and codified to ensure the safety of the public. Poor quality welds can create an environment in process piping systems that increase the risk of contamination in food and beverage processing facilities.

    Welding is an art that involves a great deal of science and requires a great deal of knowledge and skill. At Highland Equipment, our team of engineers, welders, and technicians are experts in the sanitary welding process. All of our welding procedures as well as welding personnel conform to requirements of 3A, ASME BPE, AWS D18.1/D18 and ASME B31.3, and are qualified according to ASME Section IX Code and registered with T.S.S.A. To learn more about sanitary welding and the capabilities of Highland Equipment, contact us today.

  6. Understanding 3-A Standards

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    At Highland Equipment, we are a premier provider of sanitary process equipment and systems. Equipped with extensive experience and a wide range of capabilities, our customers know they can rely on us to provide individual units and complete turnkey process solutions that meet and/or exceed industry standards.

    One of the main sanitary standards our equipment complies with is 3-A. Below, we provide an overview of these standards. We discuss the organization that creates and enforces 3-A standards, what 3-A certification means, and what benefits attaining 3-A certification offers.

    What Is 3-A Sanitary Standards, Inc.?

    3A3-A Sanitary Standards, Inc. (SSI) is a not-for-profit organization that creates hygienic design and fabrication standards for manufacturing equipment used in the food and beverage and pharmaceutical industries. It consists of three groups of volunteers: government organizations; food, beverage, and pharmaceutical manufacturing companies; and food, beverage, and pharmaceutical equipment manufacturers. Representatives from each of these three groups come together—typically on a monthly basis—to discuss maintaining and updating specific standards.

    The ultimate goal of the standards they set is promoting food safety and public health. Rather than describing how to make a piece of equipment, the standards typically provide guidelines on unsanitary elements to avoid when designing and fabricating it. Following these requirements and restrictions helps ensure two things:

    • Food meant for human consumption remains uncontaminated
    • Equipment can be properly cleaned and dismantled for inspection

    Understanding 3A Standards-1

    What Is 3-A Certification?

    3-A certification is an indication that a piece of equipment has been third-party verified to meet 3-A standards by a CCE. Any equipment used in food, beverage, and pharmaceutical manufacturing operations can be 3-A certified, such as pumps, tanks, and valves. However, meeting the requirements can be expensive, and attaining certification can be difficult. The latter is further compounded by the fact that there are only 16 3-A SSI CCEs worldwide who can certify sanitary process equipment.

    What Are the Benefits of 3-A Certification?

    Clean in Place TankDespite the high cost, there are many benefits to attaining 3-A certification. These benefits apply to consumers, processors, and equipment manufacturers.

    • Consumers benefit because they can rest assured that the products they are eating and drinking will be safe.
    • Processors benefit because they can rest assured that their equipment will comply with sanitary code and receive positive inspection results. Additionally, since 3-A design guidelines focus on quick and easy cleaning and dismantling, they often benefit from lower labor costs for cleaning operations.
    • Equipment manufacturers benefit because they can rest assured that their equipment will be accepted by all processors and sanitarians. Additionally, since their equipment will follow a standardized rather than a customized design, they may save on the manufacturing costs.

    Highland Equipment Is Committed to Maintaining 3-A Standards

    While 3-A certification is not mandatory for sanitary equipment manufacturers, at Highland Equipment, we make it a point to always design and build sanitary units and systems that meet and/or exceed 3-A standards. By committing ourselves to maintaining 3-A standards, we ensure our customers have a worry-free experience when using our equipment.

    If you need sanitary equipment for your facility, we’ve got you covered! By partnering with us, you benefit from our:

    • Broad range of stainless steel equipment
    • Stringent quality standards
    • Vast services (from design to installation)
    • International presence

    Learn more about what we do and what we offer on our capabilities and products pages.

  7. Common Types of Mixers and Agitators in Sanitary Process Applications

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    Stainless steel is a durable, corrosion-resistant material that is used for a variety of sanitary process applications. From food and beverage processing to pharmaceuticals, chemical processing, and manufacturing, stainless steel is widely valued for its strength and high resistance to rust and corrosion. For this reason, it is the primary material used to manufacture mixers and agitators in many applications. Since most mixers and agitators come in direct contact with the product they are mixing, they must withstand exposure to moisture, corrosive chemicals, salts, and other factors that can compromise the material integrity of metal components. 

    Agitators and mixers are critical to an array of applications that require the smooth, easy-to-clean finish of stainless steel. Depending on the industry, a variety of mixer and agitator designs have been developed to facilitate the blending, mixing, and suspension of solids and liquids of varying consistencies. To help you find the best stainless steel mixer or agitator for your application, the team at Highland Equipment has provided a comprehensive summary of the most common mixers, their principles of operation, and common uses. 

    Axial Flow Mixers

    Axial flow mixers include hydrofoil mixers, marine-type propellers, and wide hydrofoils. They operate at a high level of efficiency, with large flow rates that are ideal for blending materials with low to medium viscosity up to 3,000 to 5,000 cP. Axial flow mixers consist of a turning impeller or propeller in a stainless steel tank. As the impeller turns, it moves material parallel to the axis of the impeller’s rotation. This motion provides low shear, high-speed mixing of multi-liquid blends and liquid-solid suspensions. Axial mixers are often used as tank mixers for top-to-bottom blending, and are particularly effective for stratified mixtures and solid suspensions. 

    Mixed Flow Impellers

    Mixed flow impellers use specially designed impellers to create combined axial and radial flow, both parallel and perpendicular to the impeller blade. They blend solids, liquids, and gases with medium efficiency at moderate speed, and are ideal for products with low to high-medium viscosity up to 25,000 cP. The moderate shear impact of mixed flow impellers makes them useful for blending a wider range of products and materials.

    Radial Flow Impellers

    Radial flow impellers are angled to direct product movement perpendicular to the impeller’s axis. Rushton impellers, open flat-blade paddle impellers, half-circle blade disc turbines, backswept open blade turbines, and backswept disc turbines are all examples of common radial flow impellers. The shape of flow passages and angles of the impeller vanes direct the product from the center of the tank to the outer walls, producing highly efficient agitation and high shear mixing. Radial flow impellers are ideal for use in sanitary stainless steel tanks for medium-high shear mixing of low- to medium-viscosity materials up to 10,000 cP. They can be used in single and multiphase mixing of liquid-liquid, liquid-solid, and gas-liquid blends.

    Anchor Mixers

    Anchor mixers feature uniquely shaped impellers that are designed to fit close to the tank walls. This design allows the impellers to pull material from the wall surface and maintain agitation with primarily radial flow and medium-high shear. Anchor impellers are ideal for high viscosity products up to 100,000 cP, including cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, culinary sauces, condiments, and many more food related products.

    Scraping Agitators

    Similar to anchor mixers, scraping agitators (scrape surface, swept surface) are distinguished by the scraper blades are designed to scrape the walls at slow speed, creating radial flow with medium-high shear. Scraping agitators are perfect for high-viscosity products up to 200,000 cP, and are often used in heated applications where material must be scraped from the walls to facilitate heat transfer throughout the tank and prevent the product from burning onto the tank walls. 

    High Shear Mixers

    High shear mixers operate at extremely high speeds from 1,750 to 6,000 RPM, and are available with various impeller designs, including sawtooth (Cowles) dispersion impellers, rotor-stator shrouded turbine mixers, and Deflo, Sevin, and hybrid coaxial flow shear mixers. This type of mixer is valued for its high impact and vorticity, but requires more energy consumption than other designs. High shear mixers use high-speed rotors to push the product away from the axis toward a stationary stator, which creates the high shear necessary for homogenizing, dispersion, particle reduction, and emulsification processes. 

    Helical Type Impellers

    Helical impellers are distinguished by the helical shape of the impeller, which is designed to provide close clearance. Depending on the shape and angle of the impeller, the product may be moved left-and-right or up-and-down. Helical impellers are designed for slow operation and extremely viscous products up to 150,000 cP. This type of impeller is often used to mix solids such as particulate and fibrous material into liquids and pastes.

    Superior Mixers and Agitators for Your Stainless Steel Sanitary Process Applications

    At Highland Equipment Inc., we are dedicated to providing superior quality mixers and agitators for our customers in a range of sanitary process applications from cosmetics and pharmaceuticals to food and beverage, dairy, and cannabis processing. All of our mixers and agitators are composed of passivated and polished stainless steel. In addition, we offer specialized polished finishes up to 7 Ra and electropolishing as needed for your particular application. 

    To learn more about our extensive selection of mixers and agitators suitable for stainless steel sanitary process applications, contact our experts today to request a quote.

  8. The Advantages of Skid Mounted Process Equipment

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    Skid mounts are portable platforms used for mounting industrial equipment to facilitate easy and secure transportation and storage. The skid mount may take the form of a frame, rails, or pallet. The machinery is permanently mounted onto a skid at the point of manufacture, which gives the machinery’s future users advantages in terms of mobility, protection, and modularity.

    Skid-Mount Alternatives

    While industrial equipment doesn’t always need to be mounted on a skid, doing so often makes it easier to transport the equipment or to move it between locations within a facility. Alternatives to mounting machinery on skids include:

    Permanent Installation

    Industrial machinery that has not been mounted onto a skid must be installed on site. Known as the stick-build methodology, this method of on-site assembly can be very time consuming and disruptive to operations.

    Machinery without a skid will be permanently installed in one location. This may present challenges such as:

    • Architectural planning to determine the most ideal location for the equipment
    • Logistical planning for millwrighting and rigging
    • Inflexibility should the layout of the manufacturing facility expand or change

    Complex Packaging During Transit

    Skids are not only useful for moving machinery around a factory floor but are heavily relied upon during transportation to the machinery’s intended destination. The skid frames secure and protect machinery during transit.

    Without skids, complex and costly temporary packing will be required to protect delicate machinery parts while the equipment is being transported to its destination.

    Advantages of Skid-Mounted Systems

    The three main advantages of skid-mounted systems are:


    Skids are assembled as modular units, so skid mounted process equipment can be more easily disassembled and reassembled when required. This enables benefits such as:

    • The relocation of skid-mounted industrial equipment in an easy and secure manner. This is particularly important as business needs change and industrial processes are relocated or otherwise altered.
    • Easier installation than a stick-build approach. The skid-mounted equipment is moved to the desired location and connected to existing machinery, often with single-point process connections.
    • Flexibility in terms of acceptance testing.
    • Smaller footprints as skid-mounted systems are designed to have a compact layout.
    • Increased safety due to fewer on-site assembly hours.
    • Increased speed and project completion times compared with the stick-built approach, leading to cost savings.


    The frames of skid-mounted systems provide an added level of security, support, and protection for industrial equipment which often includes complex piping, delicate valves, and other valuable components. The frame protects the equipment during all the points at which the machinery is likely to be damaged, including transport, installation, and regular usage.


    Modern production facilities must have the flexibility to change in response to evolving business requirements. This means that modularity, or the ability for process components to be separated, moved about and recombined, is vital as processes are reconfigured.

    Skid mounted systems are ready-to-use modular systems that are assembled offsite, tested, shipped to the customer’s facility and plugged into existing processes. Off-site assembly also means that skid mounted systems will not interfere with a new facility’s construction or renovation phase.

    Working with Highland Equipment

    Highland Equipment is a leader in the design and manufacture of custom stainless-steel equipment. Our team is highly experienced in the building of a wide array of skid-mounted systems. Contact us today to discuss your skid-mounted process equipment needs with an expert.

  9. Design Principles for Effective Clean-in-Place (CIP) Systems

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    Clean-in-place (CIP) systems are an assembly of mechanical components and devices utilized to combine water, chemicals and heat to create cleaning solutions.  These chemical cleaning solutions are pumped or circulated by the CIP System through other systems or equipment in order to clean them.  As the name suggests, the intent of a CIP System is to provide a cleaning function to other process systems or equipment without having to move it or take any of it apart.  They are often employed in processing plants to remove material buildup and contaminants from sanitary process equipment, such as pipings, vessels, and other machinery. Many industries rely on them to attain and maintain sanitary and hygienic standards in critical operations.

    Due to their critical function, CIP systems are designed and built for durability and reliability. At Highland Equipment, we provide high-quality clean-in-place systems suitable for use in a wide range of industries, including dairy, food and beverage, pharmaceutical, brewery and cosmetics manufacturing. We’ve put together the following guide to outline some of the key design and integration principles for effective CIP systems.

    Design Considerations for CIP Systems

    When designing a CIP system, there are several design elements to keep in mind to ensure the constructed system fully performs its intended function. Some of the key design considerations include:

    • Capacity.The CIP system must be adequately sized to provide the flow and pressure needed to remove residue, reduce cycle times, and rinse effectively.


    • Utilities.The processing facility must have the utilities required to operate the CIP system.


    • Space requirements.Local codes and maintenance practices dictate the space needed for both portable and stationary CIP systems.


    • Drainage.Proper drainage is critical to cleaning operations. Drain utilities must be able to handle high discharge temperatures.


    • Processing time.The amount of time that a CIP system takes for its operations determines how many individual units are required to meet demand.


    • Temperature.If proteins are present inside the process systems, pre-rinse operations should occur at ambient temperature to remove as much protein as possible without denaturation.


      • Solution concentration and type.CIP systems employ different cleaning solutions and concentrations for different purposes. For example:
        • Caustic—also referred to as caustic soda, sodium hydroxide, or NaOH—is used as a detergent in most CIP cycles. Concentrations range between 0.5–2.0%.
        • Nitric acid is used for scale removal and pH level stabilization after a caustic wash cycle. It’s generally employed at concentrations of 0.5%.
        • Hypochlorite solutions are typically used as sanitizers.


    • Equipment surface characteristics.The internal finish of a CIP system can help or hinder the buildup of proteins and other contaminants within the system. For example, mechanical polishing operations create rougher surfaces than electropolishing operations, resulting in a higher risk of material adherence. When choosing a finish, it’s essential to choose one that minimizes the amount of mechanical and chemical damage experienced during cleaning operations.

    Integration Considerations for CIP Systems

    In addition to proper design and construction, proper integration is important to achieving optimal cleaning performance from a CIP system. While a CIP system may be custom designed and built to meet a facility’s needs, if it is not integrated correctly, it may not perform as intended. Thus it is necessary to consider how the CIP system will be integrated from the beginning of the planning process.

    Some of the factors to keep in mind include:

    • Piping.CIP systems should employ the use of welded connections, because threaded or flanged connections facilitate the accumulation of contaminants within the system. Additionally, return lines should have as much slope as possible to encourage gravity draining and discourage the formation of air pockets, which can prevent cleaning fluids from reaching all surfaces.
    • CIP skid.The CIP skid contains a required tank for rinse and chemical solutions.
    • Filters.Filters in CIP systems are often hard to drain. As such, they require regular removal for cleaning or replacement operations before sterilization.
    • Accumulation.All system components should demonstrate free draining properties to avoid a “bathtub ring” effect.

    Contact the CIP System Experts at Highland Equipment Today

    Clean-in-place systems are essential pieces of equipment in many processing facilities. If you need a CIP system for your company, turn to the experts at Highland Equipment. We offer end-to-end equipment solutions—including design, manufacturing, installation, and technical support—to ensure you get the CIP system you need for your sanitary process application.

    For additional information on our CIP system and service offerings, contact us today.

  10. The Continuous Protein Process Video

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    Highland Equipment Inc. has developed unique technology known as the Continuous Protein Process System (CPP) that produces various types of soft cheese requiring heat and acidification, as well as tofu and food grade casein products by a truly continuous method — resulting in substantial production efficiencies and cost savings.

    CPP ebook

    Interested in learning more about CPP from Highland Equipment? Check out our CPP eBook or contact us today!