What if chocolate manufacturers could reduce energy output and waste, cut the health risks associated with production and have the capability to measure and manage operations from any site, all while reducing operational costs? Seem too good to be true? That’s what I used to think…
The average Brit consumes over 7,000 chocolate bars in a lifetime, spending hundreds of pounds per year on the indulgence.
Without needing to reach for your calculator, it’s easy to understand just how much chocolate needs to be manufactured by our favourite brands to satisfy our nations’ needs. We’re talking about hundreds of factories with kilometres of hot pipes, transforming tonnes of cocoa beans into boxes of packaged bars to be transported across the world. This is a considerable operation to manage.
Despite Roald Dahl’s vision of a future confectionery plant all the way back in the mid-twentieth century, most chocolate manufacturing processes are surprisingly dated and inefficient. In fact, some plants I visit still have no digital capabilities at all.
Traditionally, two pipes are used to transport chocolate around a factory. A small, thin pipe, typically of a few inches in diameter, is used to transport the liquid chocolate, while a second, larger hot water-filled pipe wraps around the inner pipe to keep the chocolate warm.
The state of chocolate
Temperature and state are of vital importance. Solid at room temperature, chocolate needs to be heated to the optimum temperature and transferred through long passages of pipes as a liquid. Any miscalculations, errors or downtime leaves manufacturers with a sticky (and expensive) mess.