How an HMI Can Make a Good Machine Better

Loring Smart Roast makes coffee roasting machines known for precise control, consistency and energy efficiency. So how do you improve an automated system that’s already excellent? Enhance its batch processing and reporting capabilities with a state-of-the-art interface.

Loring Smart Roast, Inc. is a manufacturer of coffee roasters known for providing precision control and energy-efficient roasting. Even with a long history of developing roasters that produce award-winning coffee, the company continues to engineer for improvement. Its most recent goal: take operator productivity, connectivity and efficiency to the next level of operational excellence.

The closed-loop roasting environment of Loring’s trademarked Flavor-Lock Roast Process technology eliminates the need for an afterburner and produces “a cleaner, brighter cup of coffee,” said founder Mark Ludwig. Its low oxygen environment preserves coffee flavor and the technology eliminates smoke and reduces CO2 emissions, he says.

“The roasters use up to 80 percent less fuel when compared to conventional coffee roasters, which require an afterburner to reduce smoke,” explained Ludwig. The company has a growing list of customer testimonials documenting the savings, and “those who are curious can use the online energy savings calculator at www.loring.com to estimate their own savings,” he said.

The company wanted to upgrade its product line of smart roasters with a new human machine interface (HMI) that would take operator productivity, connectivity and efficiency to the next level of operational excellence. “The touch panel interface is the key point of contact for the roaster operator,” said Ludwig, and improving the interaction and control of roasters by adding advanced functionality and remote monitoring capabilities would help customers meet key performance indicator (KPI) metrics and goals.

President and CEO Bob Austin said the company reviewed many operator panels and chose the Exter T100 from Beijer Electronics “because of its superior SCADA-like software capabilities.” Beijer Electronics has designed and manufactured HMI products for industrial OEMs and vehicle systems integrators. Its product lines include automation software, operator panels, industrial panel PCs and rugged QSI HMIs and TREQ mobile data terminals.

“With the Exter T100, our roasting chambers can be controlled remotely in real-time, and customers receive an email at the end of each roast with detailed roast data,” said Austin.   

The HMI controls the entire roasting process and allows operators to easily control the temperature and humidity of coffee roasting chambers. This enables consistent roasting that remains true to the roast profile for each batch. The operator can run the machine in either manual or automated modes.

The Exter T100 is a durable yet lightweight 10.4-in. panel with a 64K color TFT-LCD display. The units also include a touch screen, a high-performance Intel XScale processor and Beijer’s Information Designer application software.

Nate Turner, Beijer Electronics sales and marketing manager of the Americas, said, “Our powerful HMI hardware and intuitive Information Designer programming software, combined with their sustainable roasting technology, delivers a powerful integrated solution that will satisfy even the most demanding coffee roaster customers.”

For its part, Loring is now featuring the Exter T100 on all three of its newest roaster models: the A15 Merlin, S35 Kestrel and the S70 Peregrine roasters.

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