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Design of a Packaging Chain for Dry Beans for Student Design Competition 2013

Contact Information

University: The University of Doula

Team Members (with year of graduation): (1) AWONO Serge Abdon, (2) ZE Eric Parfait, (3) WONG Cyrille

Faculty Advisers: Mr AYISSI Zacharie Merlin

Email Address: /

Submission Language : English

Project Information

Title: Design of a Packaging Chain for Dry Beans



        Leguminous plants are plants rich in proteins, among which we can distinguish dry beans which scientific name is Phaseolus vulgaris. In fact, the latter is the vegetable equivalent of meat without its side effects (cardiovascular diseases, obesity, high blood pressure, and goiter). According to United State Dry Beans Council, Dry Beans constitutes a very good source of vegetal proteins; minerals like iron, magnesium and zinc. It is rich in folic acid, a substance that contributes in reducing congenital malformations as Spina bifida, which protects from heart diseases. Dry beans constitutes also a nice source of nondairy calcium. It has a high content in soluble fibers which influence on cholesterol level reduction has been proven. It contains phytoestrogens which contributes to reduce cancer risks linked to hormones” [1].

It’s sold and consumed around university campus, colleges and high schools. We have noticed that it is less consumed in homes due to its preparation time which is relatively high, estimated at 3 hours averagely, its odors, and the expensive means of cooking (gas, oil and wood fire) as well as the physical energy it requires. That’s why the purpose of our project is to design a packaging chain for boiling beans in order to put it at the disposal of the population that can then complete its preparation within 20 minutes time. This will allow an increase in beans consumption, boost its cultivation, create employment, reduce meat consumption and poaching, to contribute in the reduction of the emission of greenhouse gases [2] due to cattle stock farming, and also to reduce deforestation due to the use of wood as energy sources in towns and villages.


  Cameroonians household do not consume enough animal proteins due to their high cost, as well as vegetable protein (dry beans) due to its long boiling time. Whereas beans is less expensive. With the same mass, it feeds more people than meat or fish. In addition, we can find many spots where beans is being sold alongside universities and other academic institutions. Hence the need of designing a packaging chain for beans as a semi-finish product which will contribute in reducing their energetic expenses. In fact Cameroon is undergoing energy crisis [3]; electricity and domestic gas are still a luxury in certain households (others households are still using wood as their main energy source). Whereas beans cooking requires a great deal of energy to people.

With our project launching, we expect to enable people to spare energy and boil beans in their homes for just 20 minutes. This will increase the demand of packaged beans and consequently give farmers the advantage of cultivating beans, encourage and valorize the second generation agriculture, create employment, and contribute to the reduction of rural exodus and the rate of unemploymentThe strategy of our project is in accordance with that of the Cameroon government as defined in the Growth and Employment Strategy Paper (GESP) which intends to promote self-employment targeted to support the sectors driving growth especially in the rural sector [...]. In the latter, in accordance with the development policy of large farms, incentives will be taken to facilitate the installation of agriculture graduates throug training on large-scale agricultural projects setting and implementation, access to funds, and access to modern agricultural inputs such as fertilizers [3].

  The innovation that our project brings, relies on the fact that there has never been a company in Cameroun that deals in beans packaging, thus it is new in the market; therefore, there are no competitors: it is the packaging of beans at the industrial scale as semi-finish product which will be available in neighborhood shops, super markets and service stations. It’s for these reasons that we will need LabVIEW and myDAQ for the implementation of measuring instruments, actuators, actuators, sensors, controllers, in order to create a monitoring or control and data acquisition system.


       Our project consists of three main phases: sorting, cooking and drying, and packaging. Sorting consist of putting beans on an inclined vibrating carpet to remove impurities. It is then poured into a large sieve and washed in a rotation movement. The washed beans are then transferred to a kettle to be cooked at ninety percent (90%), and then it is drained and dried in an enclosure: it is the second phase. After that, the beans are poured into a hopper for packaging in boxes made of  biodegradable paper that are emptied  from air  before being sealed and labeled and stored according to their weight per range. Indeed, we will need to use sensors in order to detect beans packets not well filled, to control temperature variations in the tanks and in the drying chambers with alarms. After cooking, it will drain and dry the beans contained in the strainers, which requires actuators to lift the load. LabVIEW will allow us to control and ensure the speed control and vibration conveyor that transports packaged beans, but also the vibrant carpet. We will also need sensors to make packages of 0.5, 1 and 3 kg and to count the number and remove the defective packages.




1- Built

2- tank funnel

3- sorting hopper

4- filling and evacuating valve

5- discharge valve

6- cooking tank cover

7- strainer

8- cooking tank

9- conditioning tank

10- heat source

11- empty wrap

12- conditioning conveyor

13- conditioning tank cover

         14- conditioning tank support

15- sorting sensor

16- wraps bender

17- filled and packaged wraps in a carton

18- palettizing carton

19- palettizing conveyor


The dry bean chain (DBC) is a process of packaging dry beans ready for seasoning in 20 minutes. This process consists of three main steps: sorting, cooking and drying, and packaging.


Beans is introduced into the tank funnel 2 and then goes down by gravity to the sorting hopper 3,while vibrating, this allows to separate beans from its granular impurities. Subsequently the waste downwards by gravity towards the outlet.


Beans   introduced into the cooking vessel 8 are stored in the strainer 7, with the cover 6 open. Once the strainer is full, the cover is closed and then begins the washing with warm water begins through valves 4, after washing, cooking continues for a time determined by the heat source 10. Once the beans are cooked, now is follows rinsing with cold water and cover 6 opens.




The cooked beans is introduced into the conditioning vessel by rotation of the sieve 7, with the cover 13 being opened. Once the conditioning tank is full, and then starts the packaging. A Quantity in kg is filled in packages 11 carried by the conveyor 12, once the wrap is full; it passes through the sorting sensor 15 and the bender 16 and will be stored in the  palletizing  carton 18 and once cardboard is filled the bean is ready to be distributed to consumers.




Beans containing impurities such as envelopes and small stones is purified with the vibrations generated by an electric engine as shown in Figure 1. The bean is then purified by gravity poured into the kettle, which allows it to be washed and thus move to the phase of cooking and drying on which we will focus much more.


Our aim is to boil beans at high pressure and high temperature to prevent steam leaks unnecessarily, but also protecting our equipments (valves, boilers, pipes). In fact, The US Department of Energy estimates that more than 950 trillion BTUs (British Thermal Units) are lost every year in homes and businesses due to losses from poor insulation. This amount of energy loss represents the use of approximately 7,500 million gallons of gasoline. A primary source of these losses in commercial buildings is poorly insulated pipes, valves, and other components that are part of industrial steam distribution systems.” [4]

For this, we must control the temperature of boiling water but also water vapor. The first control allows not to exceed the temperature range of 300 ° C thermistors. The second allows us to protect our equipment and keep the thermal energy of the kettle. Our LabVIEW program enables us to achieve this by opening the outlet valves automatically when the pressure of the water vapor is close to the critical pressure and to close them. It also helps to know the exact number of times the critical pressure was reached, allowing for future operations to optimize the configuration. The front panel (Figure 3) our VI provides the user with an audible alarm  that beeps when the vapor pressure is close to the critical pressure, but also a visual alarm that remains green until the steam pressure is normal and turns red when the pressure around the critical pressure. The front panel also has a graph that allows you to monitor the temperature in real time, but also a control bar that allows time to monitor the remaining cooking time. The user also has the option of setting the cooking time, and to know the vapor pressure in real time. Due to a lack of pressure sensor, we considered water vapor as an ideal gas so as not to develop equations that are not the subject of this study.

Once the remaining time comes to zero, meaning the cooking is complete; the water outlet valves are actionned in order to discharge the boiled beans water. The inlet valves of water are then opened to inject the water, which allows to clean the beans and discharge through the water outlet valves which are automatically closed due to LabVIEW and myDAQ, also used to control the entry of hot dry air into the kettle in order to dry beans, the moisture vapor that evaporate are discharged through outlet valves. After drying, the sieve contained in the kettle is filled into the hopper through a cylinder to be packed: this is the third part of our packaging line.


Boxes made ​​up of biodegradable paper are routed under the hopper by a conveyor. The position 1 sensor is used to control the stooping of the bottle and control the filling of the box. The flowmeter allows to stop falling when the desired weight of the box reaches (0.5, 1 and 3 kg) and control the passage to the next box. The Previous box; is then carried through the conveyor to be covered in vacuum packed and labeled by the presence of the position 2 sensor. After this step, the check sensor allows to control the quality of the packaging and to sort between good and defective cans. This finally allows palletized good boxes which are therefore ready to be sold on the market so that the bean is cooked in 20 minutes.



In the first place, we need to control the temperature and pressure inside pressure cooker so to enable the presentation/illustration of these quantities with time. As matter of fact, by regulating the evolution of these quantities with time; we can curb energy lost during the process. Thus making parcels contained beans.

To achieve these objectives, we used a pressure cooker because it designed made to cook food quickly with accurate timing. More still, it has a valve which opens up when the pressure within the cooker reaches a threshold value. LabVIEW together with the tools provided by NI such as the myDAQ, myTemp and sensors were a great importance because thermistors which have a variable resistance as a function of temperature enabled to obtain data from the pressure cooker. This data is transferred to LabVIEW via myDAQ, which later displays the result in the form of a graphic. However, this allows the controlling agent to configure the parameters of the system within the interface. It sends out alarms to call the attention of the agent in cases of excess pressure within the pressure cooker. As result, we obtain the curve in figure 5 which is made of 3curves T1, T2, T3 representing temperatures of water and beans mixture and that of water vapour in the pressure cook after 80 minutes respectively. The temperature of water vapour is obtained by getting the average of the temperature T2 and T3. During the firth 2 minutes, the temperature of water is fairly constant and has a value of 40° C (because the beans was cleaned with hot water). Between the third and twentieth minute, the temperature of mixture proceeds from 20°C to 120°C, water vapour is produced and bubbles can be perceived inside our mechanism. The curve up water vapour slow gets similar to that of the mixture and it finally stabilizes at 120,418 °C and at pressure of 1,456 bars at 68 minutes. There we begin to reduce the pressured inside the cooker because the beans is cooked.

However, for the commercialization, we shall be stationed at shops and markets to be in close proximity with the consumers and to vulgarize the product. Communication will done at various levels: we shall begin with the media (radio, television), followed by posters in the streets and the environs of the university campus, right after that, promotion as well as sponsoring of events such as competitions and games during holidays.

With our project launching, we expect to enable people to spare energy and boil beans in their homes for just 20 minutes. This will increase the demand of packaged beans and consequently give farmers the advantage of cultivating beans, encourage and valorize the second generation agriculture, create employment, and contribute to the reduction of rural exodus and the rate of unemployment.


At the end of our project, of which the objective was to design a packaging chain for dry beans we based our selves on the fact that the population around the university campus consumed beans but this is not the case at the homes. They do not feed on it regularly due to its relatively long cooking time and exhausting in terms of energy and physical resources. Hence we conceived a chain which counter acts the problem by providing beans which is 90% cooked which people can fix and eat in 20 minutes. Our chain is made up of 3 parts which the cooking and cleaning is the most vital part of the project. Part in which we concentrated our effort because they posed a situation involved the management of energy. In order to do this, LabVIEW, myDAQ, myTEMP and thermistors enabled us to visualize the transfer of heat inside the pressure cooker while reducing heat loss due to vapour as our perspective. This allows us to cook beans at shorter time intervals hence reducing the energy consumption because the energy use to cook the same quantity of beans that we cooked is far greater than that use in the family.


[1]  UNITED STATE DRY BEANS, Annuaire des fournisseurs des haricots secs au Etats-Unis-Qualité cultivée aux Etats-Unis, USDB, pp. 34, 2010.

[2]  MOHAMED BENHADDADI et GUY OLIVIER, Dilemmes énergétiques, Presses de l’Université du Québec, pp.166, 2008.

[3] GOUVERNEMENT CAMEROUNAIS, Document de la Stratégie pour la Croissance et l’Emploi, pp. 15 et 20, Aout 2009.

[4] NATIONAL INSTRUMENTS, Teaching Thermal Insulation Properties With the myTemp NI miniSystem for NI myDAQ, pp. 1,, March 2013.