The miraculous transformation
of a coffee machine

This is a story about the miraculous transformation of a coffee machine. Not just any coffee machine – but the fully automatic Jura Impressa X9 coffee machine of the Innovation department at Balluff in Neuhausen

The X9 is located at Balluff in Neuhausen, where it supplies a team of highly motivated developers – some would lovingly call them nerds – with much-needed caffeine. The X9 makes delicious, full-bodied coffee, but it also always requires a lot of manual maintenance: you have to clean it, refill the coffee beans and water, and order supplies. To make matters worse, there were also always maintenance issues for which there was no money in the coffee fund. The obligatory coffee consumption tally sheet was rather poorly maintained. So no one knew how much coffee had been drunk, whether X9 was still doing well at all, and who had taken the last of the coffee without refilling the beans!

And then the X9 got a makeover.

First, it got a monitoring system – consisting of the Condition Monitoring Sensor (BCM) and an ultrasonic sensor from Balluff. The ultrasonic sensor detected if there was a cup under the brewing unit and the BCM was responsible for detecting the vibration of the coffee machine as it brewed different types of coffee. The Condition Monitoring Toolkit made this quick and easy. The X9’s guests and caregivers, the team of coffee lovers and automation experts, were determined to find out what type of coffee drink was being brewed, the quantity being brewed, if there were any problems, what the water level was in the tank, and when the next cleaning was due.

Data, data, data

First and foremost, the team collected data. Over and over again, the BCM recorded the machine’s vibration data. The data was the basis for training the evaluation system using machine learning. Other colleagues were already wondering about the massively increased activity level of the Innovation department, because in order to train the algorithm, a lot of coffee, espresso, americano, cappuccino, latte macchiato, and latte had to be drunk. The X9 was running at full speed! By using machine learning, the team was able to see on a screen on site how much and what coffee was being brewed.

100 Years of Balluff: Vibration data of the coffee machine

Out of milk and beans

Everyone was thrilled – until the X9 once again found itself without coffee and milk. But the team had the right solution for that too: the fill levels are now also monitored using sensors. The team also always has an eye on the stock levels. With the Smart Reordering System from Balluff, it was possible to monitor the stock levels of milk and coffee beans. As soon as the stock empties to a certain point, a reminder email is automatically sent so that supplies can be replenished in good time.

Then came the coronavirus

And part of the team worked from home from then on. The data for coffee fund management also had to be viewed from there – so the data had to be transferred from the local Edge computer to the Internet. The X9 was made internet-ready with an LTE wireless connection. Anyone with access can now follow the Innovation department’s coffee consumption live.

100 Years of Balluff: Live dashboard

It does not really matter whether it is a filling line, pumps or a packaging machine.

Roland Schaefer, Vice President Innovation

After the transformation

The X9 and its development team are very pleased with the makeover. “We have upgraded the fully automatic coffee machine. And we did it with various Balluff solutions such as condition monitoring, machine learning using signal analysis, smart stock monitoring and fill level measurement,” says Roland Schaefer, vice president Innovation at Balluff. “It doesn’t really matter whether it’s a filling line, pumps or a packaging machine.” The coffee consumption is under control. The supply is guaranteed, the X9 is Internet-enabled, and you may now understand why the colleagues from the Innovation department are sometimes lovingly referred to as nerds.

100 Years of Balluff: The miraculous transformation of a coffee machine
Condition Monitoring Toolkit

Condition Monitoring Toolkit

The Condition Monitoring Toolkit (CMTK) is a complete system for smart and effective monitoring of machines and equipment. Maintenance work or repairs can therefore be carried out before a machine breaks down and production stoppages occur.

100 Years of Balluff: Smart Reordering System

Smart Reordering System

Inventory levels can be automatically managed using the Smart Reordering System. This System offers numerous advantages: Manual scanning processes are superfluous, inventory levels can be managed dynamically, and buffer stocks that tie up capital and occupy space are no longer required.

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