- To create a global, widespread tracking system along the entire process, from the lot of raw coffee beans to the single pod
- Allen-Bradley CompactLogix 5370 series
- Allen-Bradley CompactLogix 5380 series
- Allen-Bradley Remote I/O Points
- EtherNet/IP Infrastructure
- Significant support from the Rockwell Automation Italian team
- Complete, global tracking of the entire process
- Obtainment of the IFS Food, the maximum food safety certification
- Availability of data for efficiency analysis and measurement on lines and personnel
For Caffè Borbone, an Italian leader in coffee production, global tracking starts from the coffee bean and ends at the coffee pod
Bibit is an Italian information technology company that for the last 12 years has focused on tracking solutions. This specific capability is why L’Aromatika Srl – Caffè Borbone, a leader in the coffee sector and with a strong bent towards innovation and new technologies, chose Bibit.
Starting out as a partial tracking project, after subsequent developments the application is now a perfect example of digital transformation. To implement this project, Bibit called upon the services of Rockwell Automation, which provided the basis for creating an Industry 4.0 environment. And, thanks to the results obtained in terms of global, real-time tracking, L’Aromatika has since obtained the IFS Food, the highest food safety certification.
L’Aromatika relied on a system composed of PC terminals, limited to recording the generation of pallets. This system provided a printed label at the end of the production cycle that did not include any information about upstream activities.
Continuous growth in the company and the need to comply with strict standards applicable to the food industry caused the company to automate the process. It had to deploy tools to monitor all events occurring along the line, establishing the foundations for real-time tracking. Once this was achieved, L’Aromatika decided to further expand the project to reach a machine-level tracking system, interfacing all of the printing systems up to packaging.
This expansion of the project allowed the company to obtain results that would otherwise not have been possible, thanks to systems that interface with the coffee producers where the coffee actually comes from. At first, the project was supposed to cover ten lines, but it eventually grew to cover thirty lines and to encompass five coffee producers, with the resulting global tracking networks covering the coffee bean all the way to the single coffee pod.
“We started from a situation with 20 stand-alone PCs on each single line. Today we have arrived at a system that allows us to connect any additional lines simply by increasing the number of remote I/O, managed through a programmable automation controller (PAC) that is part of the CED structure,” affirmed Gabriele Marco Ferrari, CEO of Bibit.
The Integrated Architecture® system supplied to the customer over the course of the project’s two year development comprises two Allen-Bradley® CompactLogix™ 5370 series controllers (one L30ER and one L36ER), thirty remote Allen-Bradley POINT I/O™ modules, plus another six for the coffee producers. All these components communicate with one another and servers through an EtherNet/IP™ network. The CompactLogix L30ER PAC manages a dozen remote I/O while the CompactLogix L36ER PAC manages eighteen. The system operates with a three-millisecond polling cycle thanks to speeds delivered by the Rockwell Automation PACs. The PACs communicate directly with the servers, on which the Microsoft SQL database resides, where all the data is recorded, along with all requests coming from the lines.
The network infrastructure with an EtherNet/IP protocol allows the PACs to also automatically manage warehouse consumption, production and coffee making levels, with the amounts of raw and processed coffee being unloaded. In addition to providing tracking data, the PACs that communicate with an intermediate server transmit the same data to the accounting software for recording of semi-processed loads, finished product in the warehouse, and unloading of components.
“A process that would have been expensive in terms of costs and time due to its dimensions if managed manually, as well as impossible to implement from a tracking point of view, is now automated,” continues Ferrari.
The primary result for L’Aromatika was the attainment of ‘IFS Food’ food safety certification, which is proof of thorough, widespread tracking, and in this sector represents a mandatory condition for operating according to a series of commitments, such as, for example, large scale distribution.
Thanks to the adopted solutions, L’Aromatika can track the entire process from start to finish, from receiving the coffee, when it is registered and associated with a specific lot, to loading at the coffee maker company and the first blending operations.
The coffee makers are equipped with autonomous PACs, directly interfaced with an Allen-Bradley CompactLogix 5380 PAC that collects all the data from the single coffee makers and tracks the steps of the coffee treatment process. Once the coffee is ready, a container is defined and unloading of the produced material and loading of the semi-processed material or toasted coffee is registered. This is the first effect of tracking that impacts warehouse loading and unloading.
“As far as the lines are concerned, we interfaced through a digital I/O protocol; therefore even in the presence of older machines, it is still possible to monitor the status of the system and provide feedback in case of breakdowns. We can also track the production speed and frequency. Also in terms of speed, we can see how many pieces are made per minute and how many per hour – offering a series of data that can then be used by the company to assess efficiency of the lines and operators. Furthermore, the system manages devices along the line, such as the lasers that perform the direct marking and track the correlation on a pod, providing information about the quantity of pods produced, positioning them inside of the various boxes on the pallets, up to the recipient of the single pallet,” explains Ferrari.
Recently, tracking of packaging materials used for these activities was also added. The type of aluminum, filter paper used, and any other components associated with the production of the single pod, which is marked unequivocally, are also recorded. It is therefore possible at any moment to track information about the final recipient of the single pod, as well as determine the film lot, filter paper lot or material used in its production.
These are priceless improvements for L’Aromatika, who, in addition to the possibility to monitor line progress in real time, can also intervene at any time if necessary and recall a lot from the market. It is a very innovative project aligned with the paradigms introduced by the Industry 4.0 model and fits perfectly with the Connected Enterprise approach from Rockwell Automation.
“We decided to use the Rockwell Automation® PACs because of their performance, which responds perfectly to the project requirements. High speed to support continuous data interrogations and requests was necessary to attain such a fine-tuned tracking system.
The simplicity of programming and the fact that the EtherNet/IP is native were additional determining factors. The special feature of this application lies in the fact that we were able to write the protocols directly into the PAC, using the socket interface that deliver direct communication between controllers, servers and central databases – with no need for intermediate devices. The Rockwell Automation PACs gave us the freedom to write what we wanted, without any restrictions, thanks also to the flexibility of the Structured Text programming language. No other brand has the same capabilities and performance.
Furthermore, the support and skills of the Rockwell Automation team were fundamental for us, and once associated with our structure we were able to successfully conclude such a complex project in a brief time span. If I had to summarize in a simple phrase what I have explained thus far, I would say an excellent solution with excellent support,” concludes Ferrari.
Allen-Bradley, CompactLogix, Integrated Architecture, POINT I/O and Rockwell Automation are trademarks of Rockwell Automation, Inc.