Continuous vs. Batch Processing- What’s the Difference and what does it mean for sanitary pump selection?

In today’s post, we’re going to talk about process. Specifically, continuous vs. batch processing. In the food and beverage space, we get calls everyday about customers wanting to help scale an existing batch process or transition from batch processing to continuous processing. So what’s the difference between the two and how does that impact pump selection? We’ll take a closer look in today’s post.

Let’s start with batch processing. In batch processing, we process material in “groups” or discreet steps. Processing of subsequent batches must wait until the current batch is finished. Batch processing is great because it’s relatively simple and cost efficient to implement. Batch processing allows us to set up each batch uniquely, giving us flexibility for special ingredients or one off recipes. And in some cases, batch processing is even required by federal regulations.

Waukesha Universal 1 Pump for COP Applications

The downside to batching is that the process goes much slower. And because time is money, our processing costs are higher. More so than ever, food and beverage manufacturers are driving to reduce costs. Accordingly, manufacturers are looking for ways to automate processing and transition to continuous manufacturing processes. Continuous processing involves moving product through each processing step with no break in time. Continuous processing helps save time by allowing us to run non-stop and increases flexibility by enabling us to run multiple products at once.

Sounds great, right? Well not so fast. Continuous processing isn’t without it’s risks and requires careful implementation. Because we’re often running multiple products and different steps in the production cycle, we need to be mindful of cross contamination and design for optimal cleanability.

This is where pump and valve consideration comes in to play. In batch processing, we usually have time to knock down and clean a pump. That means we’re going to want to use a Universal 1 series PD pump that is designed to be cleaned out of place.

Waukesha Universal 2 for CIP Applications

In a continuous processing application, in order to keep running, we can’t stop to take everything apart and clean it. That means we’re going to need to clean in place or CIP. To do this, we’ll want to use a pump specifically designed for CIP, such as the Waukesha Universal 2, Universal 3, or Universal Twin Screw pump. For the Waukesha Universal 2 and 3 specifically, we may also want to consider options such as a flat body profile and vertical porting for full draining.

For continuous processing applications, we’ll also want to consider the valves we’re using. While ball and butterfly valves are great for batch COP applications, if we’re going to run continuously and clean in place, we’ll want to lean towards a Waukesha W60 series seat valve. And as mentioned above, we also want to take steps to prevent cross contamination. What does that mean for valving? That means we’ll want to consider using mix proof valves, especially when we have multiple tanks feeding a destination and we want to fill one tank while, while draining a second, and cleaning a third. We’ll focus more on Waukesha W70 series and APV D4 mix proof valves in a future post.

In short, when we “batch”, we’re processing ingredients in discreet steps and waiting to process subsequent materials until the first batch is complete. In continuous processing, material is simultaneously entering and exiting different process steps. While batch processing lends itself to clean out of place or COP, being able to clean in place is at the heart of the continuous processing. And because how we clean determines which type of pump we use (Universal 1 for COP and Universal 2 or 3 for CIP), we’ll want to consider this before installing a pump. As always, if you have any questions about your high purity batch or continuous process, contact a Triplex Sales Engineer today!

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