Line clearance and maintenance in manufacturing: A comprehensive guide

Drug Medicine Pharma manufacturing Factory Industry Unit
Picture: Pixabay
SDCO Cum Licensing Authority |
Food and Drugs Administration, (FDA) Haryana, India. |
Email ID:
Rakesh Dahiya

Last Updated on December 31, 2023 by The Health Master

Line clearance and maintenance

Line clearance and maintenance are crucial aspects of manufacturing operations that ensure product quality, safety, and compliance with Pharma industry standards.

In this article, we will explore various key concepts related to:

  • Line clearance, including the definition of line clearance,
  • The importance of maintaining clear lines,
  • Different types of cleaning, and
  • Guidelines for addressing changes in product specifications.

Additionally, we will touch upon the significance of line clearance and discuss the appropriate height of partitions between two manufacturing lines.

What is Line Clearance?

Line clearance refers to the systematic process of ensuring that manufacturing lines are free from any previous product residues, components, or materials before starting a new production run.

It involves removing all remnants from previous batches to prevent cross-contamination, maintain product integrity, and minimize the risk of quality deviations.

Line clearance is typically performed by dedicated personnel responsible for verifying that the production line is ready for the next product or batch.

Understanding Clearance Types:

A, B, and C Cleaning: In the context of line clearance, different cleaning types are classified as A, B, and C.

Each type represents a specific level of cleanliness required before commencing a new production run. Here’s an overview of these clearance types:

a. Type A Cleaning:

Type A cleaning is the most extensive form of line clearance and involves a thorough cleaning of all equipment and surfaces in the production area.

It is typically performed when transitioning between products with significant differences in their formulations or manufacturing processes.

b. Type B Cleaning:

Type B cleaning is less extensive than Type A cleaning but still requires comprehensive cleaning and verification of critical equipment and areas.

It is performed when switching between products with minor differences, such as variations in strength or flavor.

c. Type C Cleaning:

Type C cleaning is a simplified version of line clearance that focuses on essential cleaning and verification procedures.

It is typically used when transitioning between identical products or batches where no significant changes are anticipated.

Transitioning from 500mg to 250mg:

What to Do? When switching from a 500mg product to a 250mg product, it is crucial to follow specific steps to ensure proper line clearance.

Here’s a recommended approach:

a. Perform Type A Cleaning:

Since the strength of the product is changing significantly, it is essential to conduct Type A cleaning.

Thoroughly clean all equipment, surfaces, and tools involved in the manufacturing process to remove any traces of the previous product.

b. Validate Cleaning Effectiveness:

After cleaning, validate the effectiveness of the cleaning process through appropriate sampling and testing methods.

This step helps ensure that no residue from the 500mg product remains, minimizing the risk of cross-contamination.

c. Document the Transition:

Maintain detailed documentation of the transition process, including cleaning procedures, validation results, and any additional steps taken.

This documentation is essential for compliance purposes and to provide an audit trail of the transition.

Dealing with Flavor Changes in a Product

When the flavor of a product changes, it is important to take the following steps to ensure line clearance:

a. Identify the Source of Flavor Change:

Determine the cause of the flavor change, whether it’s due to a formulation modification, ingredient substitution, or equipment malfunction.

b. Conduct Type B or C Cleaning:

Depending on the extent of the flavor change, perform Type B or C cleaning. Thoroughly clean the equipment and areas associated with flavor retention to prevent any residual taste from the previous product.

c. Validate and Test:

Validate the effectiveness of the cleaning process and conduct appropriate testing to ensure that the flavor change does not impact the new product’s quality or safety.

Addressing Color Changes in a Product

If the color of a product changes, it is crucial to address the situation promptly to maintain product consistency. Follow these steps:

a. Identify the Cause:

Determine the reason behind the color change, such as changes in raw materials, processing conditions, or equipment performance.

b. Perform Type B or C Cleaning:

Conduct Type B or C cleaning based on the magnitude of the color change. Clean and sanitize equipment and surfaces involved in color transfer or retention.

c. Validate and Test:

Validate the effectiveness of the cleaning process and conduct appropriate testing to ensure that the color change does not impact the product’s appearance, safety, or marketability.

The Importance of Line Clearance

Line clearance plays a vital role in ensuring product quality, safety, and regulatory compliance. Here are some key reasons why line clearance is essential:

a. Preventing Cross-Contamination:

Thorough line clearance minimizes the risk of cross-contamination between different products or batches, ensuring the integrity of each production run.

b. Ensuring Product Quality:

By removing residues and contaminants from previous batches, line clearance helps maintain product quality and prevents deviations from specifications.

c. Meeting Regulatory Standards:

Line clearance is crucial for complying with pharma industry regulations and guidelines. It demonstrates a commitment to quality assurance and helps avoid penalties or regulatory non-compliance.

Determining the Height of Partitions between Two Lines

The height of partitions between two manufacturing lines should be determined based on several factors, including safety, process requirements, and ergonomic considerations.

While specific regulations may vary depending on the Pharma industry and region, here are some general guidelines:

a. Safety Considerations:

Ensure that partitions are tall enough to prevent any accidental contact or contamination between adjacent lines.

Consider the height of operators, reachability of equipment, and potential hazards associated with the process.

b. Process Requirements:

Evaluate the nature of the manufacturing process and the need for isolation between the lines. Some processes may require higher partitions to prevent product mix-up or airborne contamination.

c. Ergonomic Factors:

Consider ergonomic factors such as visibility, accessibility, and ease of maintenance when determining partition height. Optimal partition height should facilitate efficient operations while maintaining safety and cleanliness.


Line clearance is a critical practice in manufacturing that ensures product integrity, quality, and compliance.

By understanding the various aspects of line clearance, including clearance types, transitioning protocols, and addressing changes in product specifications, manufacturers can maintain consistent standards and deliver safe, reliable products to consumers.

Additionally, adhering to appropriate partition heights between manufacturing lines promotes safety, efficiency, and process control in the production environment.

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