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IoT Keeps an Eye on Cold Beer in South Africa

Anheuser-Busch InBev's South African Brewery is piloting an IoT system that captures data about the temperatures and locations of beer coolers around the country, and can thus confirm that they are in use, are being used properly and are in good working order.
By Claire Swedberg
Jun 21, 2019

When drinks and brewing company Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB InBev)'s South African Brewery (SAB) sends its 120,000 coolers out to restaurants, bars and pubs that sell its products, they often have little visibility into where and how the coolers are used.

To solve its lack of cooler visibility, the firm is piloting a solution from South African technology startup CIRT, using Digital Twin wireless sensors built into Staycold coolers, as well as IoT network connectivity from Thingstream.

The Fridgeloc device
SAB not only sells beer products in South Africa, but also owns the coolers in which they are displayed and stored. They are designed to keep the product at optimal temperatures (between -2 and +4 degrees Celsius), explains Ajay Lalu, CIRT's director. The coolers, which come with double display glass doors measuring approximately 2 two meters in width, allow the product to be stored and removed by business staff members or customers when purchased.

The coolers are high in value, the company reports, and managing them is challenging. They are used in every kind of structure and location, from restaurants in the center of Johannesburg to corrugated shacks in rural areas. To monitor each one and provide maintenance, SAB typically sends employees around the country a few times a year. Sometimes, though, the coolers simply aren't where they were reported to be.

The company began working this year with CIRT, a Johannesburg-based joint venture launched last year by Digibiz and strategic consulting firm Black Lite Group to create the solution, known as the Fridgeloc Connected Cooler. It developed a system by which the sensors capture temperature data and forward it over a cellular-based IoT connection via Thingstream's IoT connectivity.


Kris Hughes 2019-06-27 02:29:55 PM
Great article. It's good to see that RFID technology is finally being used for something important. I can't imagine anything more important that insuring my beer is cold. But seriously, this is a great solution by Thingstream. I've worked on countless RFID projects and the ability to collect RFID tag data and get it back to the cloud in real time is always a challenge in mobile or remote areas. One example involves using RFID in a truck and tracking the items as they're being taken out while the truck is in the field. In most cases we wind up using a costly hotspot device or batch the data and consolidate it when the truck returns to the facility. I'm definitely going to look into Thingstresm's solution and see if it's something we can implement here in the states. Thank you, Kris Hughes InformaTrac, Inc. (www.InformaTrac.com)

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