With Ampelos by Della Toffola, artificial intelligence manages the pressing


It is not for nothing that Boisset Effervescence participated two years in a row in the development of the Ampelos autonomous pressing device by Della Toffola. “In 2018, we planted 60 hectares of vines intended to produce base wines for sparkling wines in Vin de France, as part of the high-yield vine project carried out by Anivin de France. The overall project covers 240 ha. We therefore needed a new grape harvester, distinct from that of the Crémants de Bourgogne, which are harvested manually.”, explains Christophe Barbe, technical director of this company based in Nuits-Saint-Georges, a subsidiary of the Boisset group. Rather than conventional pneumatic presses, Boisset Effervescence wanted “a qualitative system of continuous pressing, hence this approach alongside Della Toffola, in 2020 and 2021, to develop and install Ampelos”he adds.

Christopher Beard

Three presses managed by software

Ampelos consists of three presses with a capacity of 100 hl, managed by software, “so that there is always a press available for loading the grapes, the second in the pressing phase and the third in the emptying and cleaning phase”, explains Christophe Barbe. More generally, from the reception of the harvest to the evacuation of the marc, everything is sized and managed to operate continuously.

“We harvest in 10-tonne polytrucks, details Christophe Barbe. Each poly tipper can be emptied in one go into the receiving conquet. Then, the grapes are transferred to the press by a pump which loads the presses axially. It only takes 20 minutes to empty a container and take delivery of the next skip. Each press is filled in 1h15. At full capacity, the system allows us to process 30 tonnes per hour continuously. »

Software optimizes drainage

When filling the presses, the Ampelos algorithm gives pride of place to draining. So good “that there are only 12 tonnes left in the press when the pressing is ready to start, although it has been filled with 40 tonnes of harvest”, assures Christophe Barbe. To optimize draining and loading of the press, the Ampelos software tilts the cage to distribute the mass of harvest in the press, taking into account the measurements made by the weights placed under the feet of the presses.

A set of flowmeters measures the inflow and outflow, but the highlight of the device is based on the colorimetry sensor of the juices flowing, which allows them to be separated according to the criteria of the cellar manager. “It is not a simple colorimetric sensorexplains Yacine Amami, wine and process R&D manager at Della Toffola. It is an artificial eye that measures the colorimetry, turbidity and sanitary state of the juices. This eye is connected to a network of neurons to predict what the juice will be like once it has settled. »

Using a digital color chart in the Ampelos interface, the cellar manager selects the range of colors he deems acceptable for the free-run juices and for the press juices. “Once I specified my specifications, the system automatically separates the juices throughout the intake day. Before, we selected them based on pressure levels and visual observation. Many juices that had the qualitative potential of drop thus ended up in the sizes, more oxidized”reports Christophe Barbe who also programs the expected level of marc drying.

The separation of these juices is managed by solenoid valves controlled by Ampelos, “while maintaining the smoothest and fastest pressing cycle possible, adds Yacine Amami. With Ampelos, only oxidized juices end up in the sizes”.

Designed to save time

In terms of architecture, the presses have a central membrane and an open cage in a closed “over-cage” for 360° juice evacuation. “This large evacuation surface, coupled with the control of the pressure levels, halves the pressing time”, continues Christophe Barbe. To save even more time, Della Toffola went so far as to install vacuum pumps, which accelerate the deflation of the membrane between two stages of pressing. Another essential point in the quest to save time, the presses are emptied through two doors. “The marc is evacuated at each half-turn”, emphasizes the technical manager of Boisset Effervescent. Each press is emptied in 7 minutes, according to the manufacturer.

During the day, the presses are rinsed with 200 liters of water before any new filling. At the end of the day, they are washed thoroughly and in a closed cycle. This washing requires 1,200 liters of water for the three presses. To save this resource, “the water used is fully recovered, which means that five rinses can be carried out the next day, which are done with wasted water”, explains Yacine Amami. The other rinses are carried out with clear water. Washes with caustic soda or derusting solution are also automated.

At Boisset, two wine merchants are enough to run this new workshop. “One of them is in charge of receiving the grapes, sulphiting and supervising the pressing, while the other works in the winery”relieves Christopher Beard.

In addition to the reliability and speed of Ampelos, Christophe Barbe appreciates the quality of the pressing with this system. “Two-thirds of the juices no longer need to be settled, the others are treated directly in flotation at the press outlet”, he explains. The icing on the cake: the continuous improvement of the system. The Ampelos algorithm works in self-learning. “The system learns from the different scenarios encountered to adjust cycle micromodifications. All current and future devices installed in the world are linked to the central Della Toffola server in Italy, so that the evolutions recorded in some are made available to all », appreciates Christophe Barbe. For him now “difficult to go back, as this artificial intelligence is more reliable than humans”.

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With Ampelos by Della Toffola, artificial intelligence manages the pressing

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