Solutions in action - Chocotech

Sep 06, 2015
Wernigerode, Germany-based CHOCOTECH is a privately owned company employing 180 people. It’s a sister company of Sollich KG, a third-generation family business known for its market leadership in chocolate and bar manufacturing equipment. The long list of especially satisfied customers not only includes some of the world’s multinationals, but also midsized and smaller confectionery companies.

In addition to the ECOGRAV system, CHOCOTECH is also a key supplier of turnkey kitchen systems for the following: the SUCROMASTER for hard candy; the MICRON for fondant; the CHEWMASTER for chewy; the SUCROFILM / CARAFLEX for caramel; the JELLYMASTER / JELLYMIX for jellies; the TORNADO for aerated products; and much more.

CHOCOTECH has a state-of-the-art laboratory in Wernigerode, which houses the complete scope of the company’s kitchen systems for capacities up to and beyond 1,000 kg/hr. For recipe development, the laboratory also houses the Princess range of cookers. The lab is run by experienced process engineers who have gained their experience and knowledge not only in the classroom, but also from commissioning confectionery lines for leading industry customers all across the globe.

The company’s popular ECOGRAV machine is a flexible gravimetric weighing unit with a buffer and an integrated continuous dissolver, which uses the moisture from glucose (corn syrup) to dissolve crystal sugar (or a sugarfree ingredient such as isomalt) without having to add any additional water, thus saving significant energy. The ECOGRAV is ideal for hard candies, chewy candies, fondants, cooked sugar solutions for bars and allows a dry solids level of up 90% to be achieved prior to cooking. This approach substantially reduces the energy required compared to starting the cooking process at 75 to 80% dry solids, offering energy savings of 30 to 50%.

Another advantage of the ECOGRAV system stems from the flexibility of a gravimetrical weighing system, which enables easy recipe and ingredient changes. The whole unit is backed up by an Allen-Bradley® programmable automation controller (PAC), which handles recipe control, recipe storage, temperature control, etc.

The advantages continue even beyond the individual ECOGRAV unit. First, because of the higher solids level entering the final cooker, a smaller heat exchange surface is required and thus, a smaller cooker. In addition, when an existing batch weigher is replaced by the ECOGRAV the capacity of the line can be increased as the strain or load on the existing final cooker is far less due to the higher incoming dry solids.

At the heart of the machine’s control architecture is an Allen-Bradley CompactLogix™ PAC, coupled to other components via EtherNet/IP™, including Allen-Bradley PowerFlex 525 variable-speed drives, using Allen-Bradley POINT I/O™. The company also deploys Allen-Bradley Guardmaster® for safety solutions. For larger projects, the infrastructure can be easily scaled up and integrated to exploit more powerful Allen-
Bradley ControlLogix® PACs. Operator interaction is enabled through the use of FactoryTalk View® Machine Edition (ME) or FactoryTalk View Site Edition (SE) on larger installations. 

According to Martin McDermott, Director of Sales and Marketing: “The service and support from Rockwell Automation is really good, coupled to significant industry experience; most parts we use also have preferred availability.

“We use Rockwell Automation products for many reasons,”he continues. “These include specific customer requirements coupled to the ability to streamline our design times. We also benefit from reduced programming efforts and easier trouble shooting, testing and validation. The integrated approach also gives us the ability to scale up and it offers us the flexibility to more easily evolve machine designs for future market demands. 

“Our machine’s method of operation, coupled to the Rockwell Automation solutions, delivers reduced energy consumption, easier and remote maintenance, reduced training and changeover times and, as a result, minimised installation and start up,” he concludes.