Cama & Nespresso: coffee pods
Nestlé Nespresso – Enabling the growth of the world’s leading coffee producer
System doubles coffee production
The Nestlé Nespresso SA Company, one of the fastest growing operating units of the Nestlé Group – the world’s leading food, beverage, nutrition and wellness company – has faced an unprecedented increase in customer demand for its portioned coffees (coffee pods). The company, headquartered in Paudex, Switzerland, pioneered the concept of portioned, high-quality Grand Cru coffees for use at home, as well as out-of-home locations, such as high-end restaurants, hotels and cafés, premium event caterers; customer care and luxury retail businesses, first class travel; and offices.
In the past several years, the customer demand for its products has been well above the company’s sustained annual compound growth rate of more than 30 percent. While presenting a great competitive advantage, the customer demand has also required Nestlé Nespresso to increase the capacity of its production line, including doubling the productivity of its packaging line.
Throughout its growth, Nestlé Nespresso’s key priority has been to not only meet the customer demand, but also maintain a high quality standard of its products and processes. Nespresso products, such as coffee pods, are high quality products.
Integrity of its production process was thus regarded as critically important and could not be compromised in delivering the project.
Packaging line upgrade
Nestlé Nespresso turned to CAMA Group, based in Lecco in Northern Italy, to upgrade its existing packaging line to allow the company to meet the exceeding customer demand. CAMA’s outstanding packaging knowledge, combined with a unique machine range and robotic loading units, made it a logical choice for the project. Cama has grown steadily over recent years. The group’s previous experience in working with Nestlé to produce packaging for small cone-shaped ice creams illustrated CAMA’s approach to the Nespresso project and instilled confidence in Nestlé Nespresso that CAMA can deliver.
CAMA, whose core business is engineering and production of complete high technology secondary packaging systems and machinery, worked with Rockwell Automation, a leading global provider of industrial automation power, control and information solutions, to deliver the project.
The two organizations have worked together across a number of projects, so their collaboration on the Nestlé Nespresso project represented a logical continuation of a successful relationship. In addition, Nestlé uses Rockwell Automation for all of its automation needs, which increased confidence in the ability of all parties involved in the project from the onset.
Doubling the capacity of the Nespresso packaging line (such as Nespresso coffee pods) required CAMA to create a robotic wrap up packaging machine with a dedicated feeding system uniquely designed to meet Nespresso needs. The project was to set a prototype for all future Nespresso facilities, placing extra pressure on the importance for this project to succeed. The key challenge in doing so was to help increase safe handling of small capsules at various high speeds.
“We were under a lot of pressure to deliver this project swiftly and successfully in order to meet the rapidly growing demand for our product,” said Enrico Induni, Corporate Engineering Manager, Nestlé Nespresso. “The ‘devil’s triangle’ of maintaining quality standards while delivering on a tight deadline and on budget, is always a struggle. In this case, however, CAMA approached the project ‘the Italian way’ – without any fuss, promptly resolving any issues. The project was delivered within budget and on time.”
CAMA has been developing packaging robots and robotized systems since 1988, allowing it to offer a wide range of packaging task dedicated loading units equipped with 2- or 4-axis robots. These units are designed with the purpose of meeting different packaging requirements for a variety of products, such as flow-wraps, bags, thermoformed packs and cartons.
The Nespresso automatic line built by CAMA consists of a robotic loading system, a side-loading cartoning machine and a wrap-around machine. The line is an example of a state-of-the-art, fully automated packaging system. The loading system is a two-axis robot with picking heads designed and tailored by CAMA according to the Nespresso application’s specific requirements. The side-loading cartoning machine loads the coffee capsules in sleeves up to 10 items per sleeve. Every sleeve, after being filled, is sealed and codified by a laser codification system. The wrap-around machine loads the sleeves in the shipment boxes, each of them containing 20 sleeves. A pallet system then picks up the boxes and takes them to the outbound line. All the production data are transmitted via Ethernet to a central data collection system.
CAMA utilized a range of Allen-Bradley solutions from Rockwell Automation in building the Nespresso packaging line: ControlLogix and CompactLogix controllers, RSView and PanelView HMI solutions, Kinetix for the motor control, Allen-Bradley servo motors and drives and CPU access control. The ControlLogix software package used in the Nespresso line includes standard program modules for motors, valves, alarms and analogue I/O scaling, standard program modules for PID Loops, programs and tasks structures, I/O mapping configuration, process control sequences examples and safety/process interlocks structures.
“It is a great advantage to work with companies such as Rockwell Automation and CAMA who can draw on their subsidiaries in various countries,” said Induni. For a global company such as Nestlé, this is a key competitive advantage in making sure the project, regardless of its geographical location, can receive support required promptly and efficiently.”
CAMA held a week-long workshop for Nestlé Nespresso technicians at its own plant in Lecco to familiarize them with the technological specifications of the machines. It then continued to provide practical training on the Nestlé Nespresso production floor to allow its technicians to learn how to use the equipment.
When suppliers team up to deliver a product to a customer, communication and information sharing often becomes a challenge, as companies may sometimes be willing to reveal only partial information about their equipment and knowledge relevant to the project. As a result, teams without full knowledge of each other’s competencies may not understand how to fully leverage each other’s equipment and expertise.
The coordination between the Rockwell Automation and CAMA teams was efficient and seamless. “Major multinational manufacturers are standardizing on Rockwell Automation’s equipment, since it is hugely innovative, easier to use and performs impeccably,” said Giovanni Anzani, Project Manager for Nestlé Nespresso, CAMA Group. “In addition, our teams had a good knowledge of each other’s equipment and worked really well together.”
The project took just eight months to complete from start to finish – a very short timeframe for delivery of such a complex project. “Under such circumstances, strong commitment of resources and will is required from both the supplier and the customer to help with the success of the project,” said Nespresso’s Induni. “You need highly competent people with specific skills, who are willing to sacrifice a lot of time and effort, often being on call 24 hours a day for the duration of the project. I am happy to report that CAMA and Rockwell Automation were able to work together and meet all objectives of the project.”
Since the completion of the first production line, CAMA has delivered six additional lines and more are being ordered by Nestlé Nespresso. “Our relationship with Rockwell Automation on the Nestlé Nespresso project was a fantastic one, resulting in a complete success story for the customer,” said CAMA’s Anzani. “Our relationship with Nestlé Nespresso continues, as is our dedication to the excellent working relationship with Rockwell Automation.”