The coffee capsule market may still be relatively young, but Sarong approaches it with a knowledge and experience going back almost 50 years. Starting in the single serve pharmaceutical segment, the Italian equipment manufacturer turned its attention to coffee more than a decade ago, from providing capsules to the machines that will produce and process them.
“Sarong can offer its customers thermoforming machines, assembling machines, and filling and sealing machines for capsules, in addition to the most renowned capsules in circulation, and/or the material to thermoform them,” says Marco Scrivani, Sales Manager at Sarong. “We therefore represent a one stop shop in the coffee and soluble capsule sector.
“We love to deal with companies that want to improve their production process, limiting total cost of ownership (TCO) and giving importance to the quality of the finished product. Thermoforming machines remain the prerogative of large roasters, because – generally – only large productions can justify such an investment, but we have solutions for small and medium-sized companies both in filling solutions and in the supply of empty capsules.”
The thermoforming process is a moulding technique for thermoplastic products. It consists of the initial softening and preheating process of a sheet of material, which is then adhered to a mould that consistently reproduces the capsules.
Sarong’s multi-layer capsules provide a functional barrier to oxygen, steam, gases, vapours, and ultraviolet light, preserving coffee’s organoleptic properties.
“Our company has also entered into a collaboration with a company specialising in the deep drawing of aluminium capsules, and is now able to offer Nespresso compatible capsules in both plastic and aluminium,” Marco Scrivani says.
“There are few companies with sufficient know-how to design and manufacture capsules. Adding to this is the proven performance of our capsules when dispensed in the coffee machine. Above all, we are also manufacturers of machines that fill the capsules, so we know the critical issues of our customers when this type of product enters the production line.”
The latest addition to Sarong’s filling and sealing portfolio is the Magneta. It replaces the belt or chain conveyors conventionally used to transport capsules through the machine with independent magnetic shuttles powered by a linear motor.
A shuttle receives the empty capsule and transports it through each station of the machine until it is weighed, transferring all relevant information to the machine’s programmable logic controller, and ready for removal.
“The magnetic shuttle reaches high speeds and accelerations by reducing or eliminating the presence of buffers between the stations themselves. This facilitates format changes, optimises consumption, allows different work cycles between one station and another, and guarantees the accuracy of capsules’ positioning under each processing station,” Marco Scrivani says. “Furthermore, the centre-to-centre distance between capsules can be managed independently underneath each process station and the changeover is easy and quick.”
He adds that this technology is well suited to medium-to-high-speed capsule production, with Sarong still offering conventional technology for lower production businesses. But those who embrace what the Magneta has to offer will appreciate its new levels of flexibility and efficiency.
“Traditional filling and sealing machines based on chain conveyors are mostly rigid machines and often dedicated to a single product. With Sarong’s new filling and sealing machine, we break this paradigm, allowing a quick and simple format change over. This means the possibility to dedicate a line to different types of capsules with no prejudice to the company’s overall equipment effectiveness (OEE),” he says.
“We believe that flexibility is one of the winning keys in packaging technology and this obviously also involves the world of coffee. Sarong has always been a company that manufactures widely customised machinery with an eye to their flexibility. We are a company that designs the machine starting from the customer’s needs and not by forcing the application of in house pre-assembled technology. This tailor-made approach sets us apart.”
The magnetic system of the Magneta provides many potential benefits to its user. This ranges from simply increasing production capacity to a number of efficiencies throughout the process. For instance, a quick format changeover saves times while its compact size reduces space required.
Each station can be moved or extracted to enable ordinary and extraordinary maintenance and cleaning procedures. A lack of mechanical transmission elements and components also means maintenance takes less time and can be done less often.
Throughout the filling and sealing process, Marco Scrivani says there is an optimisation of aluminium film and nitrogen consumption, and that the machine is hygienically designed with stainless steel. This means strict food safety requirements are met as well as cleaning requirements.
“We have been operating successfully for years in the pharmaceutical and food markets, very high-demanding sectors requiring extreme attention to elements such as TCO, flexibility, weight accuracy, hygiene, OEE, and after sales service, and bring this to coffee,” he says.
By supplying capsules or capsule forming machinery as well as filling and sealing equipment, Sarong provides a turnkey service to coffee roasters.
“This entails the attribution of responsibility for the proper functioning of the entire line to a single provider, to the complete advantage of the client,” Marco Scrivani says.
He adds the coffee capsule market has largely resisted the global crisis that has arisen due to COVID-19, thanks to online sales and at-home consumption. As for its own business and demand, Sarong has noticed an important inclination in favour of aluminium for Nespresso compatible capsules.
“The consumer of coffee capsules has become more sophisticated over the years and the stakeholders of this industry have had to take this into account. There are two important drives. First of all, the freshness of the product and its long shelf life, which can only be guaranteed by a barrier capsule capable of protecting the aroma,” Marco Scrivani says.
“The other drive is the ecological sensitivity that is pushing for eco-friendly solutions that impose specific choices on roasters.”
Thanks to its committed research and development, Sarong offers appropriate solutions for demand for recyclable capsules in both the creation phase and filling and sealing.
“The aluminium capsule is presented as a premium product and its handling must be done accurately. For example, in our new filling machine, we have included a robotised solution for feeding the capsules which excludes human manipulation,” Marco Scrivani says. “We believe that the coffee and capsule market in particular is confirmed as one of the markets of greatest interest and that it will be characterised by important technological innovations to meet modern production needs.”