Production Line Cleaning Part I

Today’s trend in the feed and food related industries calls for increased regulation with cleanliness and cross-contamination avoidance, especially where GMOs and Non-GMOs are concerned. Regulation can be cumbersome, but in the end, good cleaning practices result in superior quality control. Extrusion lines can be particularly challenging since the cooking process involves high temperature and the presence of moisture in the form of steam. Here I’m going to discuss some of the areas to pay attention to when cleaning the production line. Starting from the incoming side of the line. As always, when working on any equipment make sure the power is locked out.

Unloading Pits

These are notorious for build up of material in corners and places for water to gather. Pits should be well drained and kept as dry as possible. Wet, rotting grain can harbor mold, bugs and in some instances presents a fire hazard. Holes in the sheeting of the pit allows for build up of product in the void underneath. Contamination here will contaminate the whole plant.

Bucket Elevators

The bottoms of elevators are the main areas to focus on when cleaning. Clearance under the bottom pulley where the buckets and belt roll under allow product to build up in the corners. These areas are typically dry and bugs are the highest concern. All elevators have clean-out doors and simple vacuuming can be done to prevent this. Cleaning should be done on a weekly basis or when different kinds of ingredients are being transported. There is also the possibility of some types of ingredients sticking to the insides of the buckets. In addition to being dirty, this can have an adverse effect on the efficiency of the elevator.

Drag Conveyors

These types of conveyors usually get buildup at either end and depending on the type can even get some buildup in the area between the belts.

Tube or Auger Type Conveyors

There is normally a void between the auger and housing where products can build up. This is especially true with horizontal augers. Augers with an incline will tend to see build up in the bottoms of the incline.


Any transition between conveyors and equipment will have corners and low spots where product can collect.

Equipment such as grain cleaners, grinders, roller mills and mixers all need frequent inspection and cleaning. Cleaners are probably the worst as their job is to separate dirt and trash from the grain, so they are attended to on a daily basis. Grinders are next as they produce a positive pressure and any holes will produce lots of dust, which gets everything else dusty.


The mixer is the last stop before the product is introduced to the extrusion line. This is usually where vitamins, minerals and sometimes liquid preservatives are added. Mixers should be cleaned in between different products to prevent cross contamination.

Dry cleaning is preferable on this part of the line when possible, followed with a spray disinfectant, which is allowed to dry before starting production again. This covers the pre-extrusion part of the line. In Part II, we cover cleaning the post extruded part of the line. If you have any additional questions regarding how to clean your pre-extrusion equipment, contact us here.

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