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ENFIT for purpose
Internal tank cleaning is a substantial factor not only in the cost calculation of the logistics service provider (LSP), but also a crucial quality criterion. In the past, tank cleaning stations tended to work in isolation, trying to keep every grain of experience and knowledge to themselves. Over the past 10 years, though, national tank cleaning associations have come together under the umbrella of the European Federation of Tank Cleaning Organisations (EFTCO).
Dos and don’ts have been formulated, a definition for ‘cleanliness’ established and a European Cleaning Document (ECD) developed with uniform cleaning codes in several languages. This ECD is now a prerequisite for the tank transport business within the chemical industry, with membership of a national organisation mandatory for tank cleaning stations wishing to issue an ECD.
However, there are a number of practical problems arising from this situation. For example, the EFTCO definition of ‘clean’ reads: “A tank shall be described as clean when there are no visible traces or odour of the last product or cleaning agent following an inspection from the man-lids.” EFTCO defines a standard tank cleaning as “considered to be the end of a transport: the tank is cleaned from its last transport-cargo” but then says that “this means that a cleaning to prepare a tank for a next specified load is not a standard tank cleaning. In this case the tank cleaner needs to take specific precautions, cleaning and preparing the tank in function of the specified product.”
Room for improvement
Quite a few people find this kind of definition of cleanliness unacceptable. For them, a cleaning document issued on behalf of EFTCO is meaningless when it comes to the safety and quality of chemical transports, not to mention foodstuff transports. Another area of concern is that most national associations have not cared too much about the exchange of information among their members.
Questions of improving cleaning results, environmental protection and cost saving as well as the education and training of personnel are hardly ever addressed. Arguably, the only reason for the existence of cleaning associations was and still is to issue the ECD. That is also why in most cases there is no possibility of membership for associated industry branches, such as tank vessel manufacturers, maintenance and repair workshops, manufacturers of valves, components and cleaning agents, engineering companies and many other businesses that have an in-depth knowledge of all sub-areas necessary for the operation of a safe and sound tank cleaning station.
For all these reasons a new kind of association was established in June 2007 - the European Federation for the Promotion of Innovative Technologies for Cleaning, Logistics Management and Service for Bulk Transport and Storage Tanks (ENFIT). Founding members include a tank cleaning station operator, engineering companies for plant construction, water treatment and energy, a supplier of detergents, a safety advisor as well as the publisher of the European tank cleaning directory. Membership is open for anyone involved directly or indirectly with the cleaning of transport containers, with their manufacture, leasing, maintenance, repair and/or reconditioning throughout Europe.
This includes cleaning facilities for the internal and external cleaning of tank and silo vehicles, tank containers, tank trucks, containers, intermediate bulk containers (IBCs), vats, special containers, storage containers and industrial containers; inspection points, maintenance and repair workshops, reconditioning plants, transport companies and logistics specialists; and service companies for container management, software development, product identification, media and marketing, engineering and architectural services, chemical engineering, education and training, safety, health, insurance, surveying and consultancy, etc.
Identifying best practice
The general aim of the association is the promotion and advancement of research and development in the area of tank and container cleaning. Thus ENFIT actively supports innovation and ideas for tank and container cleaning in the areas of technology, procedures, concepts, products, renewal processes, internet and software systems and container identification (such as RFID) while simultaneously looking to develop and establish standards for industry, concepts and best practices for ensuring quality, protecting the environment, health and safety in the context of responsible care and sustainable development.
Furthermore, ENFIT supports and promotes concepts for training and education to provide employees with qualifications and to ensure quality and safety standards. Representing the interests of members, it also contributes to the implementation of national and international conditions for standardisation with supervisory bodies in relation to legal requirements. As such, ENFIT collaborates on national and international standards, such as ISO, SQAS, HACCP, GMP etc, with producers, transport operators, logistics specialists and other associations.
ENFIT also actively promotes cooperation through the creation of platforms for innovation and information sharing, where experiences are exchanged between members at the national and European level in all areas of tank, container, silo, recipient and industrial cleaning, maintenance, repair and reconditioning.
In a first step toward achieving these aims, an ENFIT working group has already developed the High Quality Cleaning Certificate (HQCC). This is primarily needed in the foodstuffs sector but as it is based on testing procedures according to defined standards where the reliability of the term ‘clean’ is essential it could also serve as an example for the chemical industry to use.
The 14 experts from relevant areas of the food, transport and cleaning industries were all in agreement that there is an urgent need on the one hand for standard definitions of such terms as ‘clean’, ‘sterile’, ‘low-germ’ and ‘aseptic’ and on the other reliable cleaning methods oriented towards industry’s needs as well as the capabilities of plants and transport operators. This work was accomplished over a period of six months of intense and constructive discussions with all parties involved, ranging from architects and plant operators to industrial LSP customers. The ENFIT Foodstuff Guidelines can be downloaded as a PDF from http://www.enfit.eu/fileadmin/inhalte_website/News/HQCC_Guidelines_08090....