Creating the perfect cup of coffee through collaborative engineering.
Delta Line is integral in a wide range of industries, such as agriculture, healthcare, intralogistics, robotics and even consumer products. We are a trusted partner in so many industries because of our dual value: we provide a large catalogue of customizable products and have collaborative global engineering presence. We meld our motion solution expertise with the application knowledge of our customer. This case study will explain how collaborating with one of the leading professional “bean to cup” coffee machine manufacturers allowed us to generate bespoke motion solutions that increased efficiency, reduced cost and increased product quality.
Coffee Machine Segment: A Story of Increasing Demand
In the last 15 years, coffee consumption has been steadily increasing with “out of home” consumption increasing at the fastest rate. In addition to increased volume, consumption behavior has changed away from basic drip coffee towards sophisticated, high-end quality coffee. Making a good cup of coffee is an art requiring a plethora of skills and motion: bean grinding, distributing, leveling, tamping, pulling (extracting), milk frothing (or steaming) and cleaning. It is in this context that professional “bean to cup” machines have been an increasing solution for the hotel, restaurant and catering (HoReCa) markets as it simplifies human engagement, increases efficiency and requires much less training. In a high-quality automated espresso machine, all of these essential steps are converted into consistent automation, without losing sight of the customer’s desire for a comparable (if not greater) in-cup experience. To successfully deliver on this expectation, high quality coffee machine manufacturers must continue to innovate. These innovations require tackling specific application challenges such as: variable extraction time control, automatic powdering leveling systems and milk frothing/texturing.
Machine Design Challenges & Collaboration
Looking beyond the required cost efficiency, there are two specific challenges that these manufacturers face: machine space and modularity. Machine space, specifically countertop footprint and overall machine volume, is an end-user requirement. These machines will be installed in various points of use (POU) and must be kept as compact as possible in order to support smaller point of sales or distribution. Modularity, however, is an OEM requirement. Creating various modules that can be combined to support specific client needs enables manufacturing and repair process efficiencies. Examples of modular units include: brewing, grinding, milk, steam/water, etc. Each modular unit will have its own sophisticated motion system inside. For example, the brewing unit can have 2 or more motors in order to move the espresso puck, then adjust pressure and evacuate the puck after brewing is complete. The grinding unit, which can contain 1 or 2 motors and customized worm wheels, adjusts the grinder setup based on coffee variety and preferences. With critical motion inside of a small space, it is important to select the right components that provide efficiency and meet the performance. This is exactly why our customer reached out to us. The Delta Line engineering team plugged into our customer’s engineering team as though it was an extension of their own team. Through a joint development, we created bespoke motion solutions for multiple modules. We also provided a supply chain solution that they did not anticipate: Delta Line manufactures a drop-in ready subassembly for their manufacturing process, thereby reducing their manufacturing touch time, number of suppliers and supply chain risk.
Exact Fit Product Portfolio
There are three essential features for motors inside a commercial coffee machine: low voltage, compact footprint and customized fit. Delta Line is globally recognized for our low voltage and compact solutions in a variety of different motor types. Our stepper motor technology, ranging from 15mm to 110mm, include options such as hybrid, linear, flat, hollow shaft and IP65 stepper motors. We also manufacture low voltage Brushless DC motors that range from 14mm to 90mm in diameter. We know that machine solutions often contain a mix of different motor technologies, which is why we invested in a wide range of motor types to support our customers. At Delta Line, we understand that customization as a standard is expected. This is why we provide products that are customizable by design, from performance characteristics to the mechanical interfaces to the electrical connections. For example, our catalog motor may meet the system performance requirements but would need a shaft modification to eliminate a space-consuming coupling. This is where our technical experts step in and work with the customer to design this modified motor. Our value-added service means less design work, a reduction in the number of suppliers, decreased part count and increased reliability for our customer. Customers seek us out to provide the specific solutions that they need for their machine and stay with us year after year.
Custom and Consistent
While every cup of coffee is different, each customer expects a high-quality product. Delta Line understands this well, which is why we are a trusted partner with engineering teams all over the world. Many OEMS are surprised by our flexibility and command of our manufacturing process: despite having production capacity for over 5 million motors a year, we have the production flexibility of a much smaller manufacturer. Unlike other high-volume manufacturers, our manufacturing process was developed to support a high mix of products from the start. As a result, our customers are able to specify the exact motor they need without it becoming a high-cost product or requiring a large minimum order quantity.
At Delta Line, we are a trusted partner in a multitude of industries because of our dual value: our large catalog of customizable products and our collaborative global engineering teams. When manufacturers reach out to Delta Line to solve a technical problem or help them increase their efficiency, they usually become long-term customers and partners, because of the engineering, manufacturing and supply chain value that Delta Line brings to their business, year after year.