MacIntyre & SOPAT: moving innovation further by using the ChocoScope.

MacIntyre Chocolate Systems Ltd. is a key player in the Chocolate Industry based in Abroath, Scotland. They are global suppliers of chocolate manufacturing and processing equipment for all kinds of companies producing chocolate. Within their portfolio, their main product is the New Generation Macintyre Conche, a versatile and innovative manufacturing solution performing the function of a cocoa liquor mill, sugar mill, mixer, refiner and conche in a single machine.

They are proficient in combining tradition (the company was founded in 1974) and the expertise of their team to bring the best machinery to the market. To grow into the company they are today, they add constant innovation to the solutions they are offering to their customers. So as to optimize and improve the MacIntyre Conche, they often run R&D trials to shorten time cycle production and optimize processes. For their last R&D program, they decided to use a technology to perform particle size analysis. In 2019, they purchased the ChocoScope for that purpose.

SOPAT and MacIntyre Chocolate Systems are since then working together, resulting in a great reduction on the time cycle production leading to enormous improvement and cost saving for MacIntyre´s clients: by using the ChocoScope, they have achieved the reduction in cycle time and energy consumption from 9 hours to 5 hours.

Both partners share innovation in their DNA and are both committed to create tailored automated solutions in the industry by applying R&D in their day-to-day.

We interviewed Joe Gorman, Managing Director, and his team to get a better insight on their company, their innovative approach and the results achieved using the ChocoScope.  

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  • Could you briefly introduce yourself?

My name is Joe Gorman, I am the managing director, I´ve been in the company since March 2017, but my background is not in chocolate or confectionary. I come from a production background but prior to that I worked in Oil and Gas.

We can trace MacIntyre Chocolate Systems back to 1974, since then, the company has been designing and manufacturing the Refiner Conche. This machine was created to make pure milk chocolate, dark chocolate, compound, spreads, etc. So that was the main machine, but also many other designed machines were in MacIntyre´s portfolio. The original company name was Low & Duff Developments Ltd (LADCO). MacIntyre was a sub brand of the group, until 2013 when the group was purchased by PROBAT. Since 1974, LADCO and then MacIntyre Chocolate Systems have sold 6,200 refiner conche machines.

  • What are the latest innovations on your products?

We have done a lot of design change for our machines in the past 30 years; but in the past 12 months, we´ve purchased the ChocoScope and then we ran an internal R&D program with the goal of finding optimization, especially for the compound. We also did it to see if we could upscale that optimization through the range of our machines. This is where the innovation came from, when we asked ourselves if we could reduce the energy and cycle time whilst maintaining high quality standards.

  • When did you start using SOPAT? How have you used SOPAT?

We purchased the ChocoScope during the Q4 in 2019.

The R&D program we carried out in 2020 was targeted to reduce cycle time and energy consumption for processing of milk compound and pure milk chocolate. The program was done within our laboratory using a MacIntyre RC500i refiner conche. The reasons why we could reduce the cycle time and energy consumption was due to these three main factors:

  1. Change in operating procedure for loading of dry materials. This dropped from 1hr to 8 minutes.
  2. Inclusion of a variable speed drive instead of a fixed speed drive motor and gearbox. The increase in speed also has thrown up a different question of conching as the pure milk chocolate was not traditionally conched in an extended program. We believe the dispersal of VOC’s throughout the grinding program increased due to the mass movement from the increased variable speed. Our sister company HDM Dresden are currently looking into a VOC sensor which can be used for optimum control of flavour.   
  3. Discovery of viscosity and emulsifier dosing requirements. This discovery has totally changed our view in processing within a refiner conche.

The final results were created by the combination of changes which we know are exceptional when compared to previous historical processing. We would not have managed to discover the optimum processing parameters if we did not use the Chocoscope for analysing in a real time situation.

  • Where do you see your company in the future?

We really want to grow and expand within the compound market. Our direct competitors are the ball mill manufacturers: If we manage to reduce the energy and time cycle, then we would become more competitive to the ball mill fabricants. And the quality MacIntyre produces comparing to ball mill production is far superior. Also, the MacIntyre gives the customer more flexibility in terms of what products they can use, and also the fact that our product is a 3 in 1 machine, so it´s also a more compact system compared to our competition. We believe that if we are able to upscale our findings when using the ChocoScope, we will be ahead of our competition immediately.

It´s fair to say that if we haven´t got the ChocoScope and would have never ran our R&D program, we could never reach the levels of optimization that we are aiming to get.

When we first started using SOPAT we discovered that the process of our compound in the interior of our machines was completely different than what we thought, because previously we didn´t see what was happening inside. By using the ChocoScope, we are moving our innovation forward.

We already have some customers who are very interested in using the ChocoScope. What we are looking for is to be able to integrate the ChocoScope into the MacIntyre to reach a cost-effective solution. Our concept would be that the ChocoScope would run the Macintyre, so we could promote it to customers telling them that they do not need any operators. Through the recipe and the optimization, the ChocoScope could actually run the MacIntyre.