Probat’s skilled manufacturing and engineering has resulted in the new Neptune 1000 drum roaster that puts maintenance in the spotlight, and flexible solutions in the hands of roasters.
German manufacturer Probat has always strived to provide roasters with industry solutions based on their needs for volume, accuracy, and consistency, but there was one size drum roaster that had eluded its suite of machines, until now.
The new Neptune 1000 is Probat’s answer to customers asking for a mid-range drum roaster that sits between specialty coffee and commercial batch volumes.
“We know from discussions with our customers that we needed to bridge the gap between small to large roasters and provide a solution,” says Marco Petry, Probat Area Sales Manager Germany.
“There was no in between volume for the increasing number of specialty roasters, especially from Italy and Southern Europe, who are contemplating expansion, are on the verge of becoming bigger and looking to the next best option in terms of machine performance, size, capability and price point. Maybe they already have a Neptune 500 or Px120 drum roaster, but the next size in our range was the Neptune 1500 drum roaster, which is far too big.”
At the heart of Probat’s Neptune roaster is a horizontally lying roasting drum, equipped with a rotary drive. Shovel blades circulate the coffee beans during the roasting process. The flame of a burner generates the energy for the roasting air which is guided both through as well as around the roasting drum by means of flaps. Heat is applied through conduction via the hot incoming air, but also through conduction via the bean’s contact with the roasting drum.
To minimise maintenance downtime, Probat’s engineering team assessed how the machine was built and assembled at the factory, and how further technical changes could be implemented to assist servicing and accessibility.
As such, engineers repositioned the motor on top of the cooling sieve, which was previously located underneath. This repositioning makes the cooling sieve much easier to clean. It also gives technicians direct access and replacement possibilities in case of engine defects, with drastically reduced downtime for operators. Other changes to improve maintenance include the use of a steel compensator rather than a fabric compensator to connect the heating oven, and there is now the possibility of rolling bearing inspection without dismantling the gear motor.
Thanks to the Neptune 1000’s hygienic and geometric design, the roaster is also easy to clean in a short amount of time. An enlarged inspection opening at the rear of the drum and at the bottom of the insulating hood on both sides of the machine has been created, and there is enhanced space and access to the burner chamber, roaster drum, and cooling sieve. Stainless-steel materials have also been used to avoid contamination of the end-product. A platform around the roaster can also be created as an optional addition to better access the aroma and smoke tubes, and filling hopper.
“Our engineers have considered every possible way a technician and roaster interacts with their roasting machine, and how they can best clean it, and access parts for regular maintenance. They work directly with our customers each day to understand their wants and needs and the Neptune 1000 is a reflection of that,” Petry says.
“This roaster really does represent considerations from every department of Probat, and we are convinced we have developed a machine that embraces how common problems are managed, and how we can reduce maintenance and ultimately downtime for our customers.”
The model has a modular design to allow customers to buy a variant of the model, built on a basic version, with the option to implement additional features based on customer needs, such as the addition of a recirculation system, and Proair cooling exhaust air treatment. This is energy-saving solution treats airflow by passing through a series of cold plasma modules to eliminate odours from the cooling exhaust air, helping reducing odour pollution by up to 91 per cent.
To further avoid excreting harmful emissions and dust particles into the environment throughout the roast process, Probat’s high-efficiency cyclones with optimised flow processes ensure less dust deposits, effective chaff separation, and fast and clean disposal.
As part of the Neptune 1000’s modular feature, users can also select the exhaust air treatment system ranging from afterburner to thermal pre-cleaner with catalyser, to Proforte, the technological edge in exhaust air treatment in terms of energy and purification efficiency.
“It’s a careful balancing act between energy saving, high production performance and creating top-quality coffee,” Petry says.
To provide users with the ability to “play” and control their roasts, the PILOT Roaster 2020 control system enables operators to monitor roast temperature in real time, and view the roast profile, curve. Optionally, users can view the colour of the bean with Probat’s Colour Control measurement system. This quality control device determines a colour value or continuous colour curve throughout the roasting process, thus making reproducibility of the quality and desired taste even more consistent.
“The new PILOT Roaster 2020 control solution is the vital communication between human and machine. It’s an easy-to-understand, intuitive system that allows the user to always know what’s happening in the machine,” says Nico Moede, Probat Development Project Manager.
With its modern design and enlarged screen, users have a clear overview of the roasting process, with visual information and data about the timing and position of first crack. They can view versions of recipes, historic trending of process values, machine condition, and an error indicating system with provision for images, videos, and comments. The overall benefit is more clarity, less training, and cost savings thanks to the solution’s simplicity.
“The new operator menu makes control of the roaster easy to handle. Everything the roaster needs is on the screen in front of them, making for a more comfortable experience,” Petry says.
In addition, the Neptune 1000 has individually controllable frequency converters and thermocouples inside the roaster to control the drum speed and provide temperature-related information, such as supply air and product temperature, ambient temperature, and exhaust temperature to give the operator more control when developing roast profiles.
Petry says typically when roasters upgrade to larger industrial roaster – particularly specialty roasters – they lose the ability to “play” with the roaster’s features, such as the drum rotation and volume of fans, but with the Neptune 1000, operators can control the machine as much or as little as they like.
“We have provided roasters with every tool and function to be able to use and work the roaster to its optimum ability. All the tools are there to be played with if they desire. The level of flexibility is the real advantage. It’s the future,” Petry says.
The idea of flexibility extends to roast length based on market preference.
“Normally on a drum roaster, customers like to roast carefully between 14 to 20 minutes to bring out a high intensity of aroma and flavour of the bean. Many others, however, ask us if it’s possible to roast at a shorter time, such as six minutes,” Petry says.
“The range of extended roasting time offers our customers the flexibility to create roasting profiles for any aroma development. Probat is a universal brand. Our roasting technology is flexible to meet any roaster needs, and the Neptune 1000 is a reflection of that. It can really do it all.”
The Neptune 1000 is due to make its digital launch on 18 May before it’s released to the global market. Moede says when it does, he hopes customers feel that Probat’s technical and sales teams have listened carefully to their needs and delivered exactly what they wanted.
“The result is a really flexible, intuitive, state-of-the-art model that benefits not only our customers but technicians from a maintenance point of view,” Moede says. “The Neptune 1000 combines improvements and optimisation all in the one machine.”
For more information, visit www.probat.com/en/
This article was first published in the May/June 2022 edition of Global Coffee Report. Read more HERE.