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.