Technology

WMF AutoClean: The intelligent cleaning system

wmf autoclean

WMF AutoClean from WMF Professional Coffee Machines is a fully automatic cleaning solution that maintains hygiene and reliability while improving operations and labour costs.

No matter how automatic a coffee machine may be, it still requires some manual operation to keep it running smoothly, whether that be restocking coffee and milk or general cleaning and maintenance.

However, with its new AutoClean feature, WMF Professional Coffee Machines is making hygiene maintenance and cleanliness easier and more cost effective than ever.

“Our customers are in the business of selling coffee, not nursing equipment,” says Frank Göltenboth, Vice President R&D, Global Business Unit Professional Coffee Machines of WMF Group. 

“Every innovation we release is made to add value to our customers. By automating the complete cleaning process, AutoClean saves them time and effort while increasing the profit of their businesses.”

The fully automatic function cleans a unit’s coffee and milk systems in accordance with HACCP requirements, without external assistance. An integrated timer can be set during installation to specify exactly when and at what intervals the AutoClean system should start work. This timer can be used to automatically turn the machine off for the night after cleaning, and back on before service the next morning.

“Usually, a store will need to open early or late and extend business hours beyond service hours to carry out this type of cleaning. It also requires organisation, responsibility, and attention from the business and staff to ensure it’s done correctly. WMF AutoClean eliminates the need for this manual effort and labour after a long day of work,” Göltenboth says.

Then only manual input required to clean the machine is to wipe down the exterior surfaces, remove the coffee grounds, and trigger a rinsing of the milk tube while refilling the milk container. AutoClean’s cleaning agent only needs to be refilled after 60 cleaning cycles for the coffee system and 40 cleaning cycles for the milk system.

“With five days a week of operations, that amounts to one every eight weeks for the milk system and up to three months for coffee,” Göltenboth says.

“These cleaning agents [a fluid for the milk system and granulate for the coffee system] are dosed automatically at the time of cleaning. This regular cleaning and correct dosing guarantee reliability and optimum maintenance at all times. Customers can feel confident to make adjustments to processes in their store, bringing operating hours closer to business hours, providing them with long-term labour savings.”

WMF first presented AutoClean at the 2021 International Digital Food Services Expo – powered by Internorga in March 2021. It will be available in the WMF 5000 S+ specialty machine from June 2021, followed by the  WMF 1500 S+ later in the year. AutoClean is only available for machines with the Dynamic Milk system. 

The roll out of AutoClean will begin with the WMF 5000 S+ due to the machine’s popularity with the target markets that will benefit most from the new feature.

“The WMF 5000 S+ is very well established in high-end convenience, quick service restaurants, gas stations, and office spaces; segments where the Dynamic Milk system is also very popular,” Göltenboth says.

“The machine’s strong customer base will allow for the highest volume of first introductions to AutoClean that is possible.”

Despite adding new technology to the machines, WMF has not had to compromise on its compact designs. All components of AutoClean fit perfectly into the existing machine housing. 

“We’ve been performing field tests since November [2020], to ensure the long-term sustainability of the system,” Göltenboth says.

“Feedback from own sales staff, distribution partners, and those customers that have had a sneak peek of the system, is that they are enthusiasts. They recognise that AutoClean can solve some of their operational problems. I’ve heard phrases like ‘game changer’ and ‘this is exactly what we’re waiting for’.”

While Göltenboth says customers may not have asked outright for a fully automatic cleaning system, WMF has “a fine grasp of the needs of its customers”. They wanted to reduce labour costs in off-operating hours, and while they were willing to properly maintain their equipment, it was difficult to organise.

“Customers think in terms of problems, not solutions – that is our job. So, we looked deeper into how we could automate more processes and reduce manual operations as much as possible,” Göltenboth says. “For example, gas stations often have high staff turnover or workers that have to multitask. AutoClean means there’s one less thing for them to do, while making it easier to train or instruct staff.

“In offices, it can even be hard to find someone who will take responsibility for the equipment. At the end of the day, everyone just wants to go home and may leave equipment as it is. Then, the next morning, they find the machine not ready to use and have to start with cleaning. It’s not just inconvenient, it’s a risk in term of hygiene and machine maintenance. Some offices even hire external staff or delegate the job to cleaners, which just adds to costs.”

When developing features like AutoClean, Göltenboth says the WMF engineering team starts with a clear understanding of the target. In this case, it was how the customer could finish the day without any manual cleaning interventions of the coffee and milks systems. Then, they think about how they can automise each and every step and make it a reality. This approach ties into WMF’s brand motto of Designed to Perform.

“Designed to Perform brings together the power of our best-in-class engineering, the aesthetic uniqueness of a timeless design, and the attention to details we put into everything we do. It’s a commitment and promise we make to our customers,” Göltenboth says.

“To our engineering team, Designed to Perform translates to ‘engineered to add value’. AutoClean is a perfect example of this. It adds value to our customers, who can move their focus from the equipment to serving their own customers, while improving the performance of the machine and keeping that alive.”

AutoClean joins a suite of new technologies from WMF designed to improve the operational performance of its machines.

The WMF Cup Sensor recognises the cup placed on the drip tray and moves the automatic spout to precisely the right distance above it. In self-service locations, the machine can even pre-select the correct recipe or beverage size. 

Mobile payment solutions and touch-free solutions for operation – like WMF SmartRemote – make the machine easier for the customer to use and simpler for the operator to monitor. 

“We haven’t hibernated during the pandemic and instead prepared fresh ideas, creating innovations that will aid the quick recovery of our customers,” Göltenboth says.

“To achieve fully automatic cleaning, we had to think a little bit outside of the box, and really not lose sight of our target. It was a challenge, but it’s one we took on and succeeded.”

For more information, visit www.wmf-coffeemachines.com

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