Getting more from the plant floor
New automation technologies are filling the coffee market with faster, smarter and more reliable equipment.
Founded in 1987, Automation Supply and Engineering (AS&E) specializes in auger filler systems for granular products, mainly those in the coffee industry. The company’s auger fillers can be found in small roasting houses, co-packing facilities and global corporations.
Because today’s coffee roasters operate in a competitive market with consumers demanding higher-quality products for lower prices, investing in high-performance production machinery is now necessary for them to stay profitable. AS&E uses Omron automation and motion systems on its auger fillers and form/fill/seal controls to lower product giveaway, improve production rates and increase up-time for better overall equipment effectiveness.
Weight accuracy is key to coffee roasters’ product quality and profitability. Consumers expect the same taste profile in each cup of coffee, and the weight of each bag must be at the declared label weight or above. AS&E machines are used to deliver nearly net-zero product giveaway.
With the equipment, the product is weighed, via either continuous measurement or statistical sampling. The data is sent to the auger filler’s logic controller to accurately adjust fill levels based on the difference between the label weight and actual weight. This automatic process requires little to no operator involvement, freeing workers to perform tasks at the end of the line instead of repeatedly taking weight measurements.
To achieve this level of automation, AS&E partners with Omron Automation and Safety. Ken Kunze, president of AS&E, says the performance of the Omron G5 servo and control systems exceed the requirements of the auger filler machinery. The high-speed G5 servo motor has low inertia and high torque, which are required for the application, while the Omron NJ5 machine automation controller synchronously controls all the equipment on a customer’s production line, regardless of its manufacturer.
“For coffee processors that package anywhere from single-serve to five-pound bags, accurately managing recipes is critical,” says Kunze. He adds it is imperative the parameters of each recipe be communicated to the individual pieces of equipment. “We incorporate high-tech products to produce world-class equipment.”
The SQL version of the NJ5 machine automation controller allows direct access to SQL databases and offers reliable data logging and quality control, according to Kunze.
“With native SQL database access on the NJ5, I can set up SQL database tables in the controller software, query the SQL database at the customer’s site, populate the database tables and, when finished, send the data back for analysis and recordkeeping,” says Kunze.
He adds AS&E builds equipment with the right components to address customers’ “pain points” and help them be more competitive. For example, coffee roasters want more access to production line data and equipment status anywhere in the plant.
“We give our customers the information they need to make decisions that will help them better manage their equipment and their operations,” states Kunze. “They can stand anywhere in the plant and see the status of any piece of equipment on any production line.”
The ability to analyze real-time data and immediately execute plant floor decisions can save a company thousands of dollars in waste or downtime. Through automation, coffee roasters can achieve new levels of performance in production and add value in an increasingly competitive market.