Espresso, cappuccino or would you prefer a latte macchiato? The perfect coffee in barista quality is a must in the hospitality sector in particular. The Swiss coffee machine manufacturer Thermoplan develops and produces fully automatic coffee machines of the highest quality for these customers for professional use.
Starbucks, Nespresso etc. all count on Thermoplan
The Swiss coffee machine manufacturer Thermoplan develops and produces fully automatic coffee machines of the highest quality for professional use in catering and industry. The company supplies customers and service partners in 80 countries – including Nespresso and the global coffee chain Starbucks at many of its locations. All in all, the Thermoplan network includes more than 200 certified sales and service partners with some 50,000 coffee machines.
The new IoT solution
Thermoplan relies successfully on Industrie 4.0, is innovative and offers a high-tech solution in many sectors. The aim of the new IoT solution was to offer coffee machine owners and service partners more efficient operation and maintenance options. In addition, the cloud solution focuses on delivering a new customer experience since new services enable an individual customer approach. bbv developed the secure cloud solution together with Thermoplan. Various Microsoft Azure solutions are also drawn on: Bidirectional communication via Azure IoT Hub allows data to be exchanged between the individual coffee machine and the cloud. And in order to be able to reliably evaluate the sometimes large amounts of data, the developers rely on Microsoft Azure IoT and Azure Data Explorer. Data can thus be analysed in real time, fill levels displayed and errors detected. The solution is capable of processing and evaluating about 200 gigabytes of data per day, explains Britta Labud, Senior Software Architect at bbv. “The telemetry data is analysed with Azure Data Explorer and, depending on the content, distributed to various destinations such as alarm queues, the Azure Data Lake or Azure Event Hubs for further processing.” The bbv solution therefore ensures that operators and service partners can gain valuable insights into the condition of the machine in real time.
“Thanks to the IoT cloud solution, Thermoplan can offers its customers – that is the operators and service partners of coffee machines – the best possible customer experience.”
Britta Labud, Senior Software Architect .NET, Azure Cloud, IoT at bbv.
Catalyst for innovation for new services
Thanks to the flexible cloud solution, new functions and recipes can be loaded onto the coffee machines quickly and with a minimum of effort. Take the Touchless web app, for example, which was developed during the coronavirus pandemic and allows users to purchase a beverage without making any contact. Britta Labud also points out another important feature: Individual information or advertising can be shown on the coffee machine display. “Operators can use this feature, for example, to promote daily offers at the filling station or to display information for hotel guests”, says the bbv specialist for .NET, Azure Cloud and IoT. Other similar add-on functions are conceivable, since the flexible solution leaves the door to innovation permanently open so that even more features can be implemented in this way.
These are the main advantages offered by the solution
- Operators of coffee machines receive up-to-date information all the time on consumption, fill levels and the quality of the beverages produced. Real-time management of consumables prevents product loss and increases the availability of the coffee machines.
- Ad-hoc analyses make maintenance more efficient: Information on the condition of the machines as well as current operating data are available via the cloud. Faults are detected immediately and allow remote diagnosis, which means that service engineers can prepare optimally for repairs.
- Thanks to predictive analytics, faults can be detected in advance and wear parts can be replaced before they malfunction.
Machine software is optimised continually
The IoT connection allows the software quality of the embedded software in the coffee machine to be enhanced. “Improved remote monitoring provides many pointers concerning the condition of the machine. Errors in the software can be resolved in this way and the quality of the software on the machines can be improved considerably”, says Christoph Speck, Senior Software Engineer at bbv. The attention to the quality of the software is also an important aspect. After all, the software on these machines has been in use for decades and under constant development.
Connected fully automatic coffee machines: optimum security for exchanging data
Even automatic coffee machines are not immune from attack. To exclude the possibility of data leaks, all data can be transmitted securely via the security functions of the IoT Hub. All communication is encrypted by means of TLS (Transport Layer Security). A primary key is stored locally in order to be able to uniquely authenticate each coffee machine. This ensures that the machine is the sole recipient of an addressed message. “bbv was commissioned to enhance and implement this idea since we have the technical know-how and necessary experience for such projects”, explains Britta Labud. This creates great added value: “Thermoplan not only sells coffee machines, rather also offers Coffee-as-a-Service so to speak. Thanks to the IoT cloud solution, the coffee machine manufacturer can offer its customers – that is the operators and service partners of coffee machines – the best possible customer experience.”
- Expertise: Thanks to expert consultancy and support with cloud technology, Thermoplan was able to develop the infrastructure quickly and connect the coffee machines globally.
- Optimum quality: Customers benefit from proactive stock control, reduced product loss and improved maintenance of machines with predictive analytics. The capability to record the activities of all machines means that Starbucks, Nespresso and all other customers can ensure that their coffee always meets the ever-increasing demands of their customers.
- More attractive offer: The analyses enable the offer to be optimised since sales peaks can be recognised in good time and trends can be predicted. In addition, customer communication can be varied directly on the machines with videos, messages and promotions.
- Innovation: Fully in line with the Thermoplan vision “Your challenge is our passion!”, the cloud solution allows new digital services to be custom-designed to suit customer needs, thus enabling continual innovations and strengthening customer loyalty.
Martin Egloff is a Business Area Manager in the medtech and industry fields. He understands the special development processes in the medical environment and has many years of experience in interdisciplinary development and consulting projects in the areas of software, hardware, mechanical engineering and consulting.