Cama Group brings flexibility to coffee packaging

An industry as diverse as coffee requires flexibility in every part of production, from roasting numerous profiles to providing different methods of serving coffee to the end consumer.

After coffee has been packaged, whether that be in capsules, bags, or sachets, it needs to be boxed and cartoned. Italian company Cama Group has provided these secondary packaging solutions to the global coffee industry – and other food and beverage sectors – for more than 30 years.

Alessandro Rocca, Sales Engineering Director at Cama Group, says the company prides itself on adapting to the needs of its clients.

“We are always ready to face new requests and develop customised solutions for our customers,” Rocca says.

“If they are looking for a new machine, our engineering department is linked to sales and able to provide such solutions. If an existing customer wants their machine to package in a new format, we can analyse the request and determine if the machine they already have on the floor is capable of doing it.”

In a recent example, Rocca says a large Italian customer came to the Cama Group with a packaging format they didn’t think would be possible with their current equipment.

Cama’s engineers looked into the request and configured the packaging unit to make it possible.

“The customer thought their idea was impossible without switching from one technology to another, but we made it happen,” Rocca says.

To accomplish this, Cama introduced several robotic modules into the already flexible machine. This included robotic closing, forming, and loading, which also increased its input and output.

“The machine is so modular that we are able to equip it with different components to meet this need for flexibility,” Rocca says.

“We spent a lot of time in engineering to develop these sections and the market is thanking us, because that’s the level of flexibility it really needs.”

The client uses Cama’s IF318 robotised monoblock loading unit, a favourite – Rocca says – in the coffee industry.

“This machine embraces all of the features that our customers normally look for in a packaging machine,” he says.

“It’s a fully robotic system, very clean and lean in terms of design, has fast change over, high speed, and a good carbon footprint.”

The IF318 is a top loader, a type of machine typically used for flat blank packaging, while side loaders and other models handle other forms of packaging. This has traditionally meant that coffee processors would require multiple packaging lines for different products.

However, Cama has incorporated the capabilities of these other models into the IF318, meaning its customers can streamline their packaging operations.

“The top loader possesses the biggest flexibility in terms of packaging, because you can really load most products from the top. The side loader has some advantages in terms of speed, but isn’t as suitable for a large number of products,” Rocca says.

“This is why we combined the abilities of our side loader into a top loader, so one machine is capable of producing everything.”

He says this is particularly important to Cama’s coffee industry clients, who sell their products in a variety of formats, flavours, and secondary packages.

While Cama provides solutions for most coffee formats, Rocca says by far, its biggest foothold is in the coffee capsule packaging space.

“Capsules are huge for us and that’s where our customers are looking for machines,” he says.

“Our customer base includes many coffee roasters, but the majority are co-packers. They do not have stable production because they are market driven. They need to change packaging formats often, which is why they need the most flexible machine to best serve their customers.”

Another driver of the coffee industry’s desire for flexibility is the competition in the packaging space. With many businesses entering the market, distinctive packaging is key to standing out from the crowd.

“Besides our technological expertise, we have a packaging department that can help our customers determine the best solution in terms of packaging design, footprint, and carton saving,” Rocca says.

“Customers are always looking for new packaging configurations. We call a new one we’ve implemented ‘the flower’. It’s eight capsules in a box with two on top and a cardboard partition in between.”

Coffee businesses are also looking for new, versatile ways to sell their capsules, which pose difficulties in terms of packaging. Rocca says it’s a challenge Cama is happy to accept.

“Demands are changing and growing, and customers aren’t going to stop now. They will always find new ways to distinguish themselves from the others. The competition is big, so those that find good solutions in terms of packaging or flexibility can take a share of the market,” Rocca says.

“A big trend in the capsule market right now is for multi-flavour solutions. They don’t want 36 capsules of one flavour in the box, but multiple flavours. This is a challenge from a loading perspective, but thanks to our work in other product categories, we already have a solution.”

Though coffee is only one part of Cama’s overall business – which includes healthcare, confectionary, and pet food – Rocca calls it an important one. He says it will only increase over time.

“A lot of co-packers are becoming bigger and bigger. In Italy alone, we have several clients that started with zero packaging machines and now operate 10 or 11 lines. In some cases, they are rivalling the big roasters in terms of size,” Rocca says.

“Speed is another important consideration. Our customers are producing hundreds if not thousands of capsules per minute, and the machine has to be ready to create different configurations fast.”

He says Cama looks forward to seeing what challenges the coffee industry brings it next.

“We receive many enquiries about different formats and configurations, and we usually have two or three platforms that are ready to meet them,” Rocca says.

“We have built a very good base, but in the rare case something new arises we are capable of new developments. We are a customer driven business and will always work to their requests.”

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