Researchers at the Centre for SMART (Dr Elliot Woolley and Dr Alessandro Simeone) are developing a sensor system for food manufacturing equipment that could cut cleaning times and associated resource use by one third. Current practices are aimed at cleaning worst case scenarios which translates into excessive production down time and chemical use.
At 430 million litres a day, the food and drink sector in Britain is not only the largest manufacturing sector but also the highest industrial user of water. With this new technology £100m could be saved each year leading to lower food prices for consumers.
The novel Self-Optimising-Clean-In-Place (SOCIP) system will be the first of its kind in the world. It will also be possible to retrofit existing cleaning in place (CIP) systems. Better yet, the system will require no specialist training so even small businesses will be able to take advantage of it.
The current research project will focus on developing bespoke software and algorithms for the AI monitoring system based on validated ultrasonic and optical fluorescence imaging technologies. The self-predicting system will be able to autonomously optimise the cleaning process in real-time.
This phase of the work is a joint collaboration between Loughborough University and the University of Nottingham with industrial partner Martec. Martec specialises in the design, installation and use of cleaning-in-place and hygienic technologies in food and pharmaceutical manufacturing.
Link to University of Nottingham Press Release: