Case History: IoT at the bar: Cimbali and Tim together for “smart” coffee machines

Case History: IoT at the bar: Cimbali and Tim together for “smart” coffee machines


For the time being, bars and public establishments are still closed due to the coronavirus emergency. But with a view to a gradual reopening, digital innovation can be a key added value in making the work of merchants and customer break an increasingly satisfying experience. Especially when it comes to coffee, in fact, being able to count on espresso and cappuccino machines in perfect state is one of the discriminators to maintain the quality of service at high levels and consequently for the satisfaction of merchants and end users. Precisely from these considerations was born the collaboration on the Internet of things between Cimbali Group, a symbolic company of Made in Italy, specialized in the design and production of professional coffee machines, and Tim, leader of ICT who in this project also makes use of the know-how and solutions designed by Olivetti, digital hub of the Tim Group.

Focusing on IoT, therefore equipping coffee machines with sensors and the ability to communicate data on its operation, was a choice aimed at having more control over the espresso machines that Gruppo Cimbali brings to 100 countries around the world through 700 distributors, ensuring its customers can always function at their best. Thanks to the system developed together with Tim and Olivetti, in fact, the Cimbali Group coffee machines, wherever they are installed, are able to be geolocated and transmit in real time all the information about their operation.

“Telemetry, the Internet of Things of coffee machines, is more than just a data transfer for Gruppo Cimbali. It’s the key to making our customers’ business more successful,” explains Jacopo Bambini, Product Marketing Manager at Cimbali Group. “The automatic transfer of data between our machines and a Cloud computing system, together with the possibility of remote query of this data continuously, using the Plat.One web platform, offers new opportunities: for monitoring and optimizing the customer business (through the control of consumption and machine delivery parameters), as well as service processes (washing verification and fault analysis)”.

The data are in fact transmitted automatically from the machines to a web platform, which aggregates them and for this reason makes it possible to use them also for statistical analysis, for example on consumption. Thanks to the new features it will be possible to better plan maintenance, realize in real time any anomalies or malfunctions, allow technicians to intervene even remotely – where this is possible – to improve the performance of the equipment. In fact, in the flagship models, the technology developed by Tim allows technicians to set, even remotely, all the parameters of the machine, without the need for direct intervention in the place where it is installed. This is particularly important in the current context and is in addition to greater convenience for the operator, including in terms of cost containment and speed of intervention; while for end users it means being able to appreciate a coffee produced always in the optimal way.

“IoT is a project in which Gruppo Cimbali believes a lot and that we want to carry on over time, with a progressive involvement of our distribution chain. Receiving information from the machines is of interest not only to us as a manufacturer, but also to those who do roasting, distribution, assistance. Our customers, knowing the operating conditions of their fleet, can optimize their offer, schedule maintenance interventions and monitor the progress of the business”, continues Bambini. “Thanks also to the bi-directionality of the solution, it is possible to remotely adjust all the parameters of the machine (grinders, coffee boiler temperatures, recipe setting, etc.). A new road that Gruppo Cimbali has opened up to make the most of the full potential of the Internet of Things”.

But how was it possible to reengineer cimbali group coffee machines by adding IoT functionality? The technology was studied and developed by Tim and Olivetti after a discussion with Gruppo Cimbali to understand what were the most important needs of the company.

“Our assets, from connectivity networks to platforms, together with the skills developed in the Internet of Things, allow us to create new digital services in different vertical sectors and to support companies in rethinking their processes globally by introducing innovation and efficiency”, explains Francesco Pagliari, Head of IT Offering at Tim.

The result was the creation of a solution that involves the use of a machine-to-machine Sim card (M2M) integrated with a chassis in the coffee machines, which transmits the data in two directions: to the manufacturer, then Cimbali Group, and to the customer, then the bar manager, making available to them, each for their respective skills, real-time information on transmissive capacity , the integrity, temperature and watertightness of the coffee machine.

During the feasibility study of the solution, with the aim of adapting it to the needs of The Cimbali Group, Tim worked side by side with Olivetti, who focused attention on the M2M smart transport network, while during the design Tiesse was also involved as a technological partner for the realization of the 4G communication gateway integrated in coffee machines, by virtue of its specialization in the field of Routers and IoT equipment.

“Before implementing the solution, tests of “Proof of concept” were carried out that lasted a year, which put the customer in a position to try the solution and propose changes on a case-by-case to make it more functional to their needs – concludes Pagliari di Tim – We are particularly proud of the success of this project that confirms our commitment to supporting important Italian production companies along the digital transformation path also helping them to identify the most effective and cutting-edge solutions for ensure the best customer experience.”

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