IMA launches its unique Coffee LAB, a scaled-down plant open to customers and featuring the latest processing and packaging technologies.
Automatic equipment manufacturer, IMA Group has recently consolidated its leading role within the coffee industry by opening the IMA Coffee LAB at its facilities located at IMA Coffee Petroncini headquarters in northern Italy. A unique centre, open to all customers and coffee processing companies seeking professional advice and innovative solutions, IMA Coffee LAB houses a fully functioning pilot plant covering all handling, processing and packaging stages.
Far more than a showroom where customers can appreciate the extent of IMA’s expertise at each step of the process, IMA Coffee LAB is a place to experiment solutions and gain a tangible overview of an entire plant. Customers are invited to come and test their own coffee at any step of the process or run a complete processing and packaging test through the pilot plant.
Partnering each customer one to one
Specialist technicians are available on a permanent basis at the LAB to provide visiting companies with valuable advice and technical details covering all aspects of the machines and packaging solutions available. Working together on developing the ideal configuration enables IMA to adapt key features according to specific customer needs, leading to no less than a tailor-made solution. Ultimately the goal is to provide all the answers needed to create an integrated processing and packaging line which will maximise production efficiency, performance and achieve the required product quality. Using the IMA Coffee LAB to optimise each aspect related to a customer’s product simply reflects the importance IMA attributes to finding the best possible solution.
A closer look at the different stages featured at the LAB
As the key benefit of having a single source for handling, processing and packaging is the one-stop supplier approach, IMA Coffee LAB explores all stages in an integrated fashion. This allows customers to appreciate and adapt any step of the process to achieve the desired result. In an area covering 3000 sqm at the IMA Coffee Petroncini facility, the LAB comprises handling stages from intake to roasting, grinding and up to the primary packaging stage.
An on-site Analysis Laboratory takes care of testing green coffee, roasted coffee and ground coffee for key parameters such as humidity, colour, particle size distribution, CO2 content and sensorial analysis. This allows visiting companies to make several tests and gather vital information to help make the right decisions before defining the details of each machine and the overall process.
Valuable consultancy and concrete solutions are available for all packaging requirements. IMA’s vast experience in this field is also supported by OPEN LAB, the group’s innovative laboratory which researches sustainable alternatives by developing exclusive packaging materials for tomorrow’s world. Capsule resistance can also be tested physically at the laboratory and IMA technicians are available to guide companies in their choice of materials. Customers are also encouraged to run trials on their own packaging materials at the pilot plant.
IMA Coffee LAB can also be seen as an opportunity for companies to reinforce their knowledge of coffee handling, processing and packaging. As a working, scaled-down plant covering the majority of equipment involved in the entire production process, it is an environment which enables visitors to examine all aspects closely, run numerous trials and obtain immediate answers.
Furthermore, the LAB is a state-of-the-art showcase for our existing solutions, but also a space where our most recent innovations and evolving technologies can be seen in action, using prototypes dealing with different stages of the process. Everything has been built as a replica not only of the machinery, but also the conditions in which coffee processing takes place on an industrial scale. This allows customers and visiting companies to conduct effective trials on their own coffees and acquire valuable data to improve performance and many aspects, which can immediately be analysed and evaluated on-site at the IMA Coffee Petroncini laboratory.
IMA Coffee Academy
One of the most engaging ways to increase all skills related to the coffee processing sector is via the Academy, where IMA has gathered the world’s leading names and authorised SCA training professionals. Here, representatives of companies visiting the LAB will be able to attend learning sessions to gain more expertise in coffee analysis, roasting techniques, in-cup sensorial analysis for espresso or Brazilian coffees. Following the SCA certification modules is one way, but IMA Coffee also encourages visitors to adhere to a personalised training programme which can be coordinated with the training staff.
All-round services to cover every need
One of the strong points of the new IMA Coffee organisation regards the service offering, which has become so complete that the LAB houses many potential service features. Above all, this is the place where together we can define a tailored engineering solution and test it inside the pilot plant. Our R&D section helps develop customers’ packaging materials, running tests on the machines, and we provide full consultancy services to examine and discuss processing and packaging aspects. Considering the Industry 4.0 capabilities featured on our equipment, customers will be able to examine the opportunities this offers for product tracking and traceability. Moreover, the potential gained from interconnected machines grows exponentially when a customer is able to exploit vast quantities of production data to improve machine performance, production efficiency, product quality, and benefit from preventive maintenance scheduling. Last but not least, the IMA Coffee Academy enables visitors to train and acquire specific skills related to coffee processing and packaging, perform quality analysis and in-cup tasting.
IMA Coffee LAB and IMA Coffee HUB A natural follow-on from the one-stop supplier concept which led to creating the IMA Coffee HUB, today’s IMA Coffee LAB is more than a logical consequence of a winning approach to the industry. It represents an opportunity for all companies interested in addressing the needs of a global market to interact with a leader in the field and evolve through the technologies IMA brings into play. IMA Coffee invites coffee industry partners to discover the benefits of the new LAB with a view to enhancing their performance in a fast-moving sector.