The basic principles of tank cleaning

Tank cleaning becomes more and more important in the shipping industry. Following the right cleaning
procedure can make the difference between loading your next cargo right away or laying idle sometimes for days.
But tank cleaning is a complicated, not easy to understand process. There are many factors that need to be
taken into account. This blog provides insight into the basics of tank cleaning and therefor is a valuable handout
for everyone who is involved in tank cleaning.

Back to the essence

In daily practice, we are facing various different challenges. To get the best cleaning results, the perfect
circumstances have to be created. When the results are below our expectations, it is hard to figure out
what went wrong. Sometimes we even seem to forget what tank cleaning is all about.
Instructions in cleaning guides are strictly followed and a cleaning procedure is selected ‘because the book says so’.
Or a chemical cleaning product is needed because the residues have to be removed.
But isn’t the whole and only  reason we want to clean our tank just because we want to load the next cargo? Right!

As a supplier there is nothing more important to us then the satisfaction of our customers. The relationships we have with our customers are the foundation stonesof our business and our commitment is to continue to provide products that improve their tank cleaning processes, both now and in the future. But when a product is ordered, we do not always have all the information that is needed to make sure the right product is available for the current circumstances. For example,
we do not always know what previous cargo you have been carrying or what your next cargo will be?
What temperature you will wash at, or which types of cleaning machines you have on board. All these factors directly influence your cleaning process. You also have to understand why you use a certain product.

The following factors are important when it comes to create the perfect circumstances:
• What cargo do you have to clean to?
• What cargo do you have to clean from?
• What cleaning product do you use?
• What temperature and pressure do you use?
• How is the cleaning product going to be applied?

Cleaning standards

Of course the most important factor is the cargo you want to load and the previous cargo you have been carrying.
This also determines the cleaning standard. Do you have to load palm oil into a tank where you already have been carrying palm oil? The cleaning procedure is quite easy. Do you want to load medical ethanol into a tank you have been carrying vegetable oils in? The cleaning procedure is much harder because you have to clean to the highest standard.
The use of a cleaning chemical is in many cases necessary to achieve the right level, certainly when you have to deal with high cleaning standards.

High quality products

There is probably no need to say that the higher the quality of the chemical you are using, the better and the faster your cleaning standards will be accomplished. You can recognize a high quality cleaning chemical by the number of active
components they contain. Also, it is important to make sure your product has the same composition, no matter where you buy it. Our clients have suffered many inconveniences buying (other than CP Metal) products that don’t have the same composition in every port (so called ‘local blends’). When you use a high quality cleaning chemical, you already narrow done the number of risks you are taking. Even if the operation is compromised by other factors like adjacent cargoes that
restrict the washing water temperature, when you use the right product there always will be some positive cleaning effect. The use of a high quality cleaning product furthermore makes sure that the cleaning time will be reduced and a significant saving
will be realised.

Temperature, application and pressure

Cleaning a surface manually / physically for sure always give the best cleaning results. Compare this with your dishes at home. In a ship of course it is much harder to clean your tank manually, particularly the upper parts of the tank.
This means you are dependent on the number and position of the washing machines you have on board.
Typically a cargo tank will have only one or two cleaning machines and you don’t have to be an expert to figure out that this situation is far from ideal. Therefor it is crucial for optimization to use the right temperature and pressure on these machines. These two factors have to be as good as they can possible be.

Sustainable product development


When you are dealing with tank cleaning procedures, make sure you look before you leap. Before you start a procedure, it is important to have a clear picture of your specific situation and what cleaning goals you want to achieve. With this picture in mind, you are trying to create the best possible circumstances which means using the right highquality cleaning product and apply this under the right temperature and pressure. If you have any doubts or difficulties creating the best circumstances, please always consult your super cargo / super intendent. Of course you can also always consult our technical department.

Technical support

At CP Metal Chemicals nothing is more important than to satisfy our customers. Servicing our relations at the highest level, is only possible when we fully understand there situation. Would you like to receive more information about the basic principles
of tank cleaning, or would you like to discuss point of improvement in the cleaning process, we are more than happy to support!

You can contact us via below details:

W www.cp-metal.nl
T   +31 10 2994999
E  operations@cp-metal.nl

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