The class-leading service and breadth of products available from SMC is helping a leading machine builder to maintain and extend its prominent position in a highly competitive global market. HACOS designs, produces and installs high-quality chocolate manufacturing machines that spur the development and growth of every size of chocolatier, from artisans to large industrial producers. The company builds from small to very large machines that cover all chocolate manufacturing processes, necessitating the use of a high-calibre technology partner with a proven track record in industrial control and automation.
HACOS has its factory in Malle, Belgium, a country renowned worldwide for its excellence in chocolate. However, while there are more than 320 chocolatiers in Belgium, the reach of HACOS extends way beyond its own borders - the company today exports to more than 70 countries. As one of the world’s top 5 chocolate manufacturing machine builders, HACOS produces systems for processes that include moulding, depositing, enrobing, spinning, melting and tempering, and decorating - essentially everything required to transition from raw chocolate block to refined end product.
“That’s why we are widely known as the chocolate machine factory,” states Jan Selderslaghs, Operations Manager at HACOS. “We only produce machines that are befitting of 65 years’ experience and a reputation for Belgian quality. To ensure we live up to our reputation, we leverage the expertise and products of SMC to cover a myriad of motion and control tasks in our machines.”
A fitting start
The partnership began with the supply of SMC KQ2 general purpose fittings for standard pneumatic applications. A discussion about price led to SMC support and the creation of a simple yet highly efficient stock system for fittings that SMC fills twice a week, reducing the need for HACOS to manage its inventory. The success of this system garnered a foundation of trust and HACOS was soon asking SMC for advice regarding technical issues with its incumbent supplier of pneumatic solutions, a large multinational with precious little local support.
SMC takes great pride in the provision of lineside support around the world: 360° customer service is a cornerstone of the company’s business, based largely on direct response, knowledgeable technical advice and close liaison with customers to fully understand the application requirements.
All the motion control and automation products that HACOS needs are available from SMC: pneumatic fittings, FRL units, cylinders, valves and connectors. A good application example is the use of SMC’s KKA fitting, which serves a double-wall container that holds chocolate for heating or cooling prior to moulding. SMC’s KKA-X33 fitting, made from 304 stainless steel, features a special seal to protect against the extremely sticky coolant. In addition, this unique fitting is very easy to clean, which is important as the container often needs cleaning twice a day.