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SteadyServ Launches RFID Solution That Keeps Beer Flowing

The company's iKeg system, currently being tested by beer distributors and restaurants, features an RFID-enabled weight sensor for tracking the amount of beer onsite, and for automating reorders.
By Claire Swedberg
Nov 22, 2013

Restaurants and bars that serve beer on tap have a challenging task in monitoring how much beer is onsite at any given time, and in tracking when new deliveries will be required in order to ensure product does not run out. Most of these retailers keep a very limited amount of beer on the premises—two or three kegs of a specific brand, for example—and thus expect very quick deliveries from distributors and breweries to keep that small number replenished.

The iKeg mobile app lets users view and manage beer inventory levels from their smartphone or tablet.

To help ensure that retailers never run out of beer, SteadyServ Technologies has developed an automated beer-management solution known as iKeg, which employs a passive high-frequency (HF) RFID tag, an RFID reader and a weight sensor, as well as a hosted software application that tracks not only which kegs filled with a particular type of beer are onsite, but also is the amount remaining in each keg. Several beer retailers and distributors are currently beta-testing an RFID-based solution, including distributors Monarch Beverage Co. and Premium Beverage Supply, as well as a Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant in Carmel, Ind., and the Champions Sports Bar at the Marriott Indianapolis Downtown.

SteadyServ was founded in Carmel by several individuals with backgrounds in both technology and beer brewing. Cofounder Steve Hershberger owned his own microbrewery, where he says he faced the challenges of ensuring that deliveries were made to each restaurant or bar, that empty kegs were picked up, and that product did not pile up or run out at any customer site.

The iKeg solution includes a passive HF 13.56 MHz Identive RFID inlay made with an NXP Semiconductors chip and integrated into a label by RR Donnelley. The tag, compliant with the ISO 15693 standard, is attached to the handle of a keg as it is delivered. The solution also features SteadyServ's "sensor ring"—a steel ring containing a built-in RFID reader and a weight sensor that serves as a platform on which a keg is stored at the retailer's site. Another element of the system is a mobile application for either Android or Apple iOS devices, enabling users to manage their beer inventory levels from their mobile phone or tablet. With the SteadyServ system, the company installs a SteadyServ gateway at each participating bar and restaurant, and then provides that beer retailer with a sensor ring for each keg located on the premises.

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