Cama Group modernises IF318 all-in-one robotised monoblock top loading unit

Cama Group

Cama Group has taken one of its most popular machines and modernised it to allow for a greater variety of secondary packaging options in response to changing customer demands.

Italy’s Cama Group has been producing secondary packaging options, like boxes and cartons, for the coffee-capsule market for years, but it continues to innovate to keep up with the changes in the industry itself.

The latest example is the Cama IF318 “all-in-one” robotised monoblock top loading unit. The original IF318 featured box-forming machines that construct a   box from a flat carton. The central body of the machine receives the capsules, often in two lanes, one facedown and the other face-up. A robotic arm picks up the capsules to arrange them in the necessary configuration.

However, Renato Dell’Oro, Global Account Manager Coffee Industry for Cama Group noticed that there was a need for great flexibility when it came to packaging options.

“After the Nespresso patent expired everyone came into the market with an almost identical version of the product so, whether the capsules were made from plastic or aluminium, they presented the capsules in exactly the same cube,” Dell’Oro says. “The Nespresso cube worked very well in their signature shops because they can be stacked to make up a big square using all the different colours. In the supermarket however, if you put the same cube on a shelf, then it is very small. It does not have a lot of the branding facing the customer and no one is going to recognise [it]. This was a big challenge for new entrants into the coffee capsule market.”

According to Dell’Oro, one of the first companies to innovate was L’Or Espresso Coffee who designed a carton that increased that surface area of the box that was facing the consumer on supermarket shelves.

“This carton was very clever because, thanks to the honeycomb [interior layer] inside, they achieved a double goal: they preserved the product integrity because every capsule is whole, safe and separate, but moreover, they were giving a bit more space to the box so it was a bit bigger and a lot more eye-catching,” Dell’Oro says.

Cama Group saw that customers were looking for an even broader range of options from Nespresso-like tube packaging and the L’Or-style honeycomb structure to packs of 10 capsules, multi-floor, layered boxes or special edition or promotional packs that might contain and extra capsule or two. There is also “the flower” configuration, where four capsules are placed face down and one is placed face up. The market was diversifying quickly into a range of different packages, with those that captured consumer attention being the order of the day.

The new Cama IF318 “all-in-one” robotised monoblock top loading unit removes the need for all of these packaging designs to be created on different machines, which Dell’Oro says is both expensive and impractical if you have limited space on the factory floor.

“What has been developed is the capability of the machine to perform several different loading patterns or box shapes to reflect the variety in the marketplace,” Dell’Oro says. “It is also designed to handle new requests which can be added to the current machine. For instance, if you are coming out with a special honeycomb-like structure of 16 capsules, we can do that. It is completely flexible.”

Underpinning this flexibility is the reliability of the “all-in-one” approach. These machines are often used in an environment that sees them operating around the clock with a capacity of packing more than 600 capsules per minute. This throughput has made the machine very popular, but it is not just the volume but the machine’s efficiency that Dell’Oro is proud of.

This automation is challenging enough with standardised production, doing one thing the same each time. However, Dell’Oro says it becomes a challenge the new machine overcomes when asking it to operate at full capacity with quick changeovers, and while working with a variety of different packaging varieties.

Dell’Oro says that Cama Group is recognised for its machine’s ability to change formats quickly and for the care its machines takes with its packaging production, including capsules despite the high throughput.

“Aluminium is fragile and it is very sensitive so the machine needs special care when it handles the capsules so you do not scratch them,” Dell’Oro says.

Another important aspect of Cama Group’s new machine is sustainability. Dell’Oro says the company takes sustainability very seriously and works with its customer to reduce waste and emission via both the production process and the materials that are used.

When it comes to production, Cama Group machines use high performance components and smart technology to monitor energy usage and optimise performance to consumer less energy.

“Also, when you are using robots, you use a lot of compressed air, so we optimise the efficiency of the pick-up in order to minimise the usage of compressed air which, in the end, is more expensive than the electricity,” Dell’Oro says.

When it comes to the packaging itself, Cama Group is working with companies to help remove plastic from packaging to help them go green. It is also working with companies who have green packaging to make sure that it is fit for purpose because striking the balance between conserving natural resources and having packaging that is too flimsy to work correctly, is a difficult task.

“Customers can ask us for advice with regards to the final package of their product because we have a packaging department which also operates as a packaging consultancy,” Dell’Oro says.

“Customers are asking us advice about better packaging; they are already doing a green package but they could ask us if the final package proposal is good enough or if they have to change something in terms of carton weights or dimensions, or even if the machine they are thinking to use is the best to use with the package they want to produce. We are happy to run tests on the packaging and let them test the various machines on offer. We want to be working with customers from the very beginning of the initial journey in the packaging process to make sure they get the end result that they are looking for.”

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This article was first published in the September/October 2022 edition of Global Coffee Report. Read more HERE.

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