Augmented Reality

Tapping into the IoT for Smarter Solutions in the Beer Industry

31 October 2017 | Team EACPDS


What if a bartender knew exactly when one of their kegs was about to tap out just by looking at a volume meter on an app on their phones? Their bar back could switch out the keg before impatient patrons demand more. What if liquor shelves had weight sensors that measured when someone adds or removes liquor? Or an app on a phone existed that notified management when and what liquor is moved? Or better yet, a storage system that communicates with the front bar, knows which liquor is being moved, and manages inventory according to actual usage? Inventory would be a lot more accurate and there would be less time spent trying to figure out what needs to be in the next order.

When smart connectivity allows for a smoother restaurant or brewery experience, you’re most likely going to have a better time without realizing it had anything to do with the Internet of Things (IoT). For businesses, IoT solutions are creating more opportunities to connect products with the Internet. And for the average consumer, IoT solutions are creating easier access and control of products through smartphones, tablets, and desktops.

Four Ingredients of Beer

Leaders are investing in an IoT strategy as they plan the future success of their products and services. You can add smart connectivity to your products – even if you’re in the beer industry.

Here are a few industry leaders that leverage the Internet of Things to drive their success.

Deschutes Brewery

Headquartered in Bend, Oregon, Deschutes Brewery has been making craft beer since 1988. You may be familiar with their rich porter Black Butte created with hints of chocolate and coffee or their Fresh Squeezed IPA brimming with grapefruit enriched hops.

The Deschutes team partnered up with a consultant group and Microsoft last year in efforts to improve their brewing process. With a total of nine brewing phases, each phase has to be closely watched to maintain the quality of their beer. Machine learning is the application of artificial intelligence that provides systems the ability to automatically learn and improve from experience without being programmed. Deschutes has implemented machine learning and predictive analysis to automate and improve their fermentation processes. When pairing IoT sensors with the Cortana Intelligence Suite, Microsoft’s predictive learning software, the analytics tool determines the percentage of beer fermented in each batch and predicts when it’s time to switch to the next phase. The Deschutes team can now accurately schedule the nine brewing phases accordingly to ensure the quality of beer is consistent with all of their batches.

EAC IoT Tree

Connecting the beer tank sensors with machine learning gave Deschutes an IoT solution and allowed them to improve their brew processes. Deschutes reduced their fermentation process by 24-48 hours. They are now able to focus more time on creating new brands and maintaining the quality of the existing ones. Deschutes is looking at furthering the use of this smart, connected technology by looking into using it for preventive maintenance for their equipment so that brewers would be alerted if parts are due for service or replacement.

Buffalo Wild Wings

Buffalo Wild Wings, headquartered in Minneapolis, MN, is a popular sports bar that has an average of 24-32 beers on tap. Due to major growth of the company and being one of the top 10 fastest-growing restaurants in the U.S., BWW needed to keep up with the growing demand of their customer’s needs. The company faced two major challenges. Both challenges prompted the need to leverage technology and the Internet of Things for an improved operational efficiency.

The first challenge was that they needed to eliminate the product loss that results from comping drinks, excessive or bad pours, and generous bartenders that give beer away without entering the sale in the system. BWW implemented a system called BeerBoard that monitors beer flow data from IoT sensors in the taps to Mulesoft, an Enterprise Service Bus (ESB), where managers can compare beer output to sales information pulled from their Aloha point-of-sale systems. Restaurant managers can accurately determine whether they are running an effective beer operation with the help of the IoT solution found from linking the sensors to BWWs data management systems.

Their second challenge was managing the demand of the assortment of beers for each location all year round. BWW used BeerBoard’s new SmartBar beer management platform to switch and assign new beers corresponding to tap lines. Pour data and sales data would be captured through the platform where all BWW restaurants would have access to the reports to measure performance of each beer. The ability to gain beer preference insight brought a powerful competitive advantage to Buffalo Wild Wing’s brand and reputation.

By working with a few different companies that provided the IoT flow sensors and a software solution to manage their data, BWW started to accurately predict preferences and optimize inventory planning. The company now leverages the Internet of Things to accurately track beer consumption.

How to Bring Your Products to Life with the IoT

Race up the learning curve and find a partner that’s driven to find and implement the right IoT solution for your unique business. Make sure they have the engineering expertise necessary to bring your products to life. EAC Product Development Solutions is a company that transforms the way companies design, manufacture, connect to, and service their products. EAC is on a mission to help companies innovate, optimize, and win in the marketplace by selecting the right IoT solution — like PTC ThingWorx. With ThingWorx allows organizations to connect their products to the Internet and give customers the tools they need for easy access and control.

Ready to dive in? Our team of specialists, engineers, and developers would love to help you bring a working proof of concept to life. The demo application image below is an example of how our engineers can use ThingWorx to pull together data from many sources and deliver data to your fingertips. The demo shows how a local brewery can use the app to access plant conditions, truck tracking, order tracking, weather forecasting, collaboration, and beer tasting — all in real-time simulation.

ThingWorx Brewery Demo

Watch our Connect Services video to see how our engineers can connect your products with the Internet of Things!

Knowledge is power. Keep track of your data if you’re not doing it already. You’re bound to learn something from it. Better yet – apply smart connectivity to your process. Contact our Design and Engineering Services at EAC Product Development Solutions to realize your product potential and to find your IoT solution.

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