IMA Coffee releases Synkro

IMA Coffee Synkro

IMA Coffee Packaging Product Management lead Alessandro Nobili unveils Synkro, the company’s new high-speed capsule filler machine that’s flexible and consistent, time and time again.

Imagine a compact, automated capsule filling and sealing machine that can be arranged between aluminium, plastic and compostable capsules in different flavour intensities, giving customers the chance to configure different capsule production from one hour to the next, and produce 800 to 1200 capsules per minute of consistent quality.

Then go one step further in terms of flexibility and imagine this new machine replacing a traditional mechanical system with independent magnetic shuttles to shift a capsule through the production line, allowing different dwell times at different operating stations based on the capsule requirements. And while you’re at it, add on digital algorithms compatible with all data collection systems, such as Mes, 4.0, and IMA Sentinel, so the machine can record efficiencies and potential issues every hour that customers can access off-site 24/7.

This is all possible, with Synkro. It’s the brainchild of IMA – Industria Macchine Automatiche – an Italian multinational headquartered in the Bologna outskirts that, since 1961, has been designing and manufacturing machines to process and pack not just coffee, but pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, food, tobacco, and tea.

Synkro was officially launched at the triennial Interpack trade and packaging fair in Düsseldorf, Germany in May using aluminium capsules, and so far, is ticking all the right boxes, says IMA Coffee’s Head of Product and Project Management, Alessandro Nobili.

“It is the first IMA Coffee machine based on an innovative concept using magnetic shuttles for capsule transfer,” Nobili says. “It has been in development at our research and development department for more or less three years. We created a pilot machine on which we perform all the trials to understand the operation of each unit with a capsule. Synkro can handle all types of capsules on the market.”

Thanks to its innovative magnetic shuttle concept, Nobili explains that the same speeds of 800 to 1200-plus capsules per minute can be guaranteed regardless of capsule case type used.

“The ability to produce so many capsules so quickly is possible because of an extremely compact layout and a cantilever design that allows easy access and ease of cleaning. And the fact that the machine is modular means that modules can be added depending on the needs and the type of capsule to be produced,” he says.

Synkro is a fully automated unit. Capsules are fed through the use of a collaborative robot, the newest type of robot designed to interact with people in a shared work environment.

“We also have an automatic system that puts the capsules directly inside the operating area for all capsule positions. If one capsule is missed, we have an automatic system to replace it,” Nobili says.

He adds that flexible customisation was always front of mind when Synkro was being developed. That’s what sets it a part.

“How the machine works depends on the capsule configuration from customer requests,” says Nobili. “With its high degree of automation and compact design, Synkro can handle all types of capsule, including soft or hard capsules, whatever their material. This ensures precision and flexibility, thus enabling customers to respond rapidly to diverse market requirements. We can also add the operational unit required for the customer’s requests, such as insertion of plastic filters or for the cutting and sealing of paper/aluminium filters on the bottom or outside of the capsule.

“All of our customers are asking to have this kind of flexibility, succeeding in feeding and handling all compostable capsules currently available on the market. At the moment, there are not a lot of compostable solutions in the marketplace. Some, but not a lot. But increasingly, the customer wants the option to quickly and easily swap in different capsules. For example, to replace the production of an espresso aluminium capsule with a compostable one.”

Nobili says this choice of capsule with an environmental angle is becoming increasingly valued by customers and the public.

Sustainability is very much built into the design too, seen in reduced energy consumption as magnetic shuttles consume less, reduced packaging waste, maximum productivity as the machine can handle all capsules, and in 50 per cent reduced nitrogen consumption, meaning less air pollution.

“To maintain aroma and freshness of the coffees we need to reduce the oxygen and introduce nitrogen inside the capsule to avoid product oxidation. We try to reduce as much as possible the consumption of nitrogen,” Nobili says.

The quality of the final product is improved via a time-saving dosing unit that compacts the coffee before it’s inserted into the capsule.

“By compacting the coffee, we can add 15 per cent more coffee inside the capsule if it’s required. Otherwise, we can have the standard dosing of the capsule as well,” Nobili says.

“This is something very new for the market. This new step makes the coffee more consistent and, if requested by a customer, a larger coffee amount can be dosed with the same volume. A higher quality of the final product is also guaranteed by the improved sealing system, in which time, temperature, and pressure are adapted to the material to be sealed.”

Given the rapidly-evolving market of capsule production and consumption, Nobili says Synkro is setting the pace for faster production with servicing efficiency and precision when it comes to dosing, filling, and sealing different materials of capsules, including sustainable ones, for which he predicts demand will keep getting stronger.

“There’s a huge request for machine flexibility in terms of prearrangement for handling different capsule materials,” Nobili says. “This is mainly because more customers are thinking about moving to compostable solutions in the near future, and also because of potential new regulations in terms of single-serve disposal. The single-serve market has been in continuous growth, and there’s now a growing interest in environmentally friendly solutions.”

For more information, visit

This article was first published in the May/June 2023 edition of Global Coffee Report. Read more HERE.

Send this to a friend