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Contexa SA : a revolutionary sensor for volumetric dosing

Mis à jour le 29/03/2016

Winner of Alliance Association Prize SME Category, Contexa SA has developed a sensor, the Colibri, for simultaneous dosing of ingredients of different quantities, ranging from a few milligrams to several kilos without using weighing scales or balances.

The revolutionary innovation of the Colibri sensor lies in its ability to detect air bubbles, which is problematic in volumetric weighing of liquids.

Founded in 1999 by Daniel Schupbach and Charles Seydoux, Contexa SA is based in Aïre, Geneva. It specialises in the production of automatic dosing systems for the manufacturing of fragrances and flavours in perfume and food industries.

Weighing ingredients with precision for the manufacturing of fragrances is a challenging operation due to the great disparity in the quantities of each ingredient, and even more challenging when the operation is automated. The traditional system is composed of various scales for different weight categories which makes the weighing process long, complex and expensive. Wishing to provide a solution to this problem, Contexa had the idea of developing a sensor, the Colibri for performing dosing of different elements simultaneously without the use of any weighing scales.

Air bubble detection, reliability

Weighing different ingredients, ranging from a few milligrams to several kilograms, and then placing all these ingredients simultaneously in the same vessel of a capacity a ton - is possible and 100% reliable. The machine that performs weighing or dosing may contain 100-500 Colibris, thus, enabling the automation and customization of each Colibri to weigh a different ingredient. Colibri also takes into account specific constraints such as temperature or energy consumption into account.

The revolutionary innovation of the Colibri sensor lies in its ability to detect air bubbles, which is problematic in volumetric weighing of liquids. There are currently many air bubble sensors on the market, but none is suitable for weighing ingredients for perfume and food manufacturers.

Successful industrialization

To carry out this project, Contexa launched into a “CTI adventure” following the advice of a technology mentor from Alliance. The project was developed with professors Maurizio Tognolini and Raoul Herzog of the Institute for Industrial Automation (IAI) at the School of Business and Engineering Vaud (HEIG-VD) and was successfully accepted by the CTI. But the adventure did not stop there!

The most difficult step for the company thus began: the industrialization, which is long and expensive process and even more risky for Contexa as there was no guarantee of profitability or success for this project. However, risk-taking has paid off as Contexa is experiencing a runaway success with the Colibri, at the point of having to hire more staff. It now has 40 employees and the forecast for the future of the company looks excellent. Contexa received the Innovation Award 2013 from the Geneva Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Services of Geneva (CCIG) for Colibri, while the HEIG-VD gladly presents this collaborative project as the most innovative project which they have ever carried out.

Several scientific problems solved

The Colibri has solved several scientific challenges: it is able to detect the air bubbles; its electronic is designed to avoid overheating which could change the density of certain ingredients; the dosing system element is self-calibrated for each raw material and is ready to weigh immediately without resetting, which was made possible by a series of dosing syringes driven individually by an absolute positioning of the motors.

Contact: alliance@alliance-tt.ch