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Breweries Tapping the IIoT to Produce Your Favorite Brew
With greater visibility into the ins and outs of the supply chain and production processes, breweries will have the intelligence required to compete in today's increasingly unpredictable, consumer-driven marketplace.
Jan 11, 2018—
Beverage manufacturers, specifically breweries, face extremely complex challenges in planning and logistics. There are the predictable fluctuations brought about by the change of seasons and holidays—from pumpkin beer for fall to spikes in demand for your favorite holiday cheer blend. Add to that the fluctuations that manufacturers cannot predict—a late freeze in the lemon pastures disrupting supply for your favorite summer shandy or a new competitive offering suddenly arriving in the marketplace, impacting demand. Finally, there are shifts in consumer preferences that can have significant strategic implications, especially since there are so many new entrants causing market disruption.
How can breweries prepare for these challenges, both expected and unexpected? For starters, it involves proactive contingency planning and management of critical production assets. Breweries are in a particularly unique position, in that emerging industrial Internet of things (IIoT) technologies can play a valuable role in a number of key ways.
Regardless of the season, keeping critical production and packaging assets up and running at peak efficiency is crucial for meeting production demand. By creating that virtual environment and installing IIoT sensors throughout the production and packaging environments, breweries that have adopted advanced analytics to process the collected data can help predict equipment lag or failure before they disrupt production. At the very least, the sensors can help to provide critical insights to identify the root of the problem to minimize downtime.
This insight can also be shared with suppliers across the chain to avoid potential hiccups. For example, if a citrus grower's IIoT analytics is predicting a shortage that could cause a delay in production, for example, this information could be made available to the brewery in near-real-time, giving it a head start to act on its contingency plan and ensure that its profits are not affected by the shortage.
Brewing Better Efficiency
Industries that have long cycle times, such as the beer industry, require solid processes that stem from reliable data. If the data is compromised, a brewery doesn't necessarily need to throw away the entire batch, but it would have to deal with the uncertainty associated with the bad data and analytics. Moreover, if data is compromised, brewers recognize the need for great serviceability and support to get their systems back up and running to peak efficiency. Because of this, there is a willingness and a need to invest in systems that will not fail.
Ensuring the Same, Delicious Flavor Every Time
IIoT technology can also improve product tracking and traceability, gathering data throughout a product's journey through the process to improve both real-time problem response and historical trends analysis and corrective actions. Thus ensures consumers get the same great taste they expect every time.
Utilizing Agility to Keep Up With Changing Trends
As these breweries combine intelligence at the edge of beverage manufacturing plants with cloud-based applications, it is critical that the plant-side systems will be continuously available and easily manageable by existing plant staff—without requiring sophisticated IT support. This will help to guarantee operational nimbleness for large and craft breweries alike. With greater visibility into the ins and outs of the supply chain and production processes—delivered as actionable information in real time—breweries will have the intelligence needed to compete in today's increasingly unpredictable, consumer-driven marketplace.
Jason Andersen is the VP of business line management at Stratus Technologies.
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