IoT in Distilleries
IoT (Internet of Things) is fast seeping into every corner of the food and beverage industry, transforming it from being reactive to proactive to predictive. However, with greater choice and variety of alcoholic beverages for consumers comes greater challenges for the manufacturers. In view of this, more and more alcohol companies are turning to IoT solutions and sensor technologies to overcome their indoor range challenges and improve the fermentation conditions in their alcohol production facilities.
Why is condition monitoring important for IoT in distilleries?
In a typical distillery or brewery, the risk significantly increases at night and over the weekends when manual monitoring of the facility and the steps of the fermentation process stops. During fermentation, yeast consumes sugar which decreases the density of the liquid and increases alcohol content. Variations in factors such as temperature or humidity during this process (which can take anywhere between a few days to weeks) can negatively impact the final taste. Hence, continuous monitoring of conditions is a good use of technology to raise alarms and ensure that a consistent product is obtained in the end.
How can IoT help Distilleries in condition monitoring?
- To start with, digital technology can help in the production and supply chain processes, directly having an impact on product quality and cost management. For example, in beer brewing, hop is an extremely volatile ingredient that has to be incorporated into the brewing process within 12 hours of being harvested. IoT sensors can gather data on the temperature and humidity of the hops, ensuring that they are in peak condition while being incorporated.
- Indoor range issues can be solved with the help of Bluetooth routers that have the ability to penetrate steel brewing tanks and connect with low-energy sensors that float within the tanks, rather than affixed to their sides.
- Another area where alcohol manufacturers can utilize IoT solutions is in the creation of automated production processes spanning over departments such as product design, QA, packaging and logistics. IoT combined with big data analytics gives greater control over the manufacturing process, reduces costs and downtime, and enables predictive maintenance. The entire workflow can be optimized by having IoT sensors in Distilleries to carry out functions such as
- Monitor the brewing/distilling processes (including specific gravity, airflow, etc.) and allow interaction with data in real-time so as to increase productivity and eliminate losses.
- Record temperature variations on packaging machines thereby reducing downtime on the production line.
- Measure and analyze pressure on the line so as to maintain an optimum pressure to prevent spillage and blowout from the bottles.
- IoT can be incorporated across the entire key supply chain, even during transport and distribution where sensors can use GPS to track a shipment’s location or report on when it reaches the store. Breweries and distilleries face huge losses each year due to a number of accidents, from theft to kegs being refilled with fraudulent alcohol and sold as the official ones, to damage caused by poor handling to high maintenance costs. Asset tracking via IoT-sensors enables one to see where the problem occurs, whether at the filling, distribution, delivery, collection, or return stage and immediately respond to it, making the necessary corrections and saving costs.
Overall, digital technology can be used to take the traditional, long-established industry of alcohol production to the next level by enabling it with smarter solutions that yield high-quality beverages in tune with customer tastes and trends.
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