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Caffeine in the cloud: how connected coffee machines are brewing coffee with data

From fighting off the early morning blues to catching a second wind in the afternoon, coffee is a vital part of our daily lives, and one of life’s simple pleasures.

If you’re an avid coffee drinker, chances are you’ve enjoyed many cups from a machine made by Thermoplan. Established in 1974 in Switzerland, the company produces automatic coffee machines for businesses in more than 72 countries, for clients including Starbucks, Nespresso and Costa Coffee.

With technology changing the business landscape, companies across all industries are searching for innovative ways to grow, while increasing customer loyalty and maintaining a competitive edge. Thermoplan is realising these ambitions by adopting the Microsoft Azure cloud platform, allowing them to increase efficiency, and reduce costs, while improving the service it provides to its customers.

Read more: Manufacturing a smarter, more connected world

Previously we did not have our coffee machines connected to the cloud and could not receive data that would help us track any possible issues with the machines

IoT coffee
Thanks to the cloud solution, Thermoplan’s clients can enjoy benefits which include proactive stock control, better maintenance of machines via predictive analytics, and enhanced operational excellence.

For this to work, the company developed IoT-enable machines which connect to the cloud and collect data, which is then used to make significant improvements such as reducing product wastage, and the automatic tracking and recording of all machine activities.

“Previously we did not have our coffee machines connected to the cloud and could not receive data that would help us track any possible issues with the machines,” says Rolf Hochstrasser, Project Manager at Thermoplan. “We relied heavily on time-based maintenance to keep them running. The move to an IoT-based solution was driven by a request from one of our key accounts, expressing the need for a cloud-connected machine that can give valuable insights.”

Recorded data includes the duration of the grinder, the pressure used, as well as the amount of coffee consumed during set periods. The different amounts of water, coffee, and milk used are also measured, and Thermoplan’s service partners can use the gathered information to service, clean and maintain coffee machines in a timely manner. Customers can also receive cleaning reminders and statistics from the machine to help them plan better for maintenance and stock management, ultimately reducing downtime and increasing efficiency.

The cloud-based nature of the solution also saves technicians both time and money they would otherwise have spent travelling to stores. Now, they can access all of the data and information they require remotely.

“Microsoft’s Azure IoT has many great features such as flexibility, scalability security and is in many ways reliable. It’s great that we can rely on Microsoft’s innovation and not have to build our own platform. This allows us to solely focus our efforts on the user interface for our partners and customers, while a Microsoft partner from a service perspective handles the backend,” concludes Martin Ulrich, Area Sales Manager at Thermoplan.

The next time you’re getting your well-deserved caffeine fix, you’ll know there’s more than just water and coffee beans in each cup – there’s a sprinkle of data in there too.