The Craft Beer Industry Taps into the IoT: A Supply Chain Use Case
November 06, 2018
The Internet of Things has reached far and wide into almost every known industry. What?s left? Beer management. SteadyServ Technologies' flagship initiative, iKeg, is a simple smartphone IoT app.
As everyone knows, the Internet of Things has reached far and wide, into almost every known industry. Connected devices notify service personnel when it’s time to make service calls. They notify store owners if their refrigeration units are failing so they can save their inventory from spoilage, and have broad applications across many industries from smart cities to precision farming.
What’s left? Beer management. Recognizing the many needs of bar owners and craft beer brewers when it comes to monitoring beer usage and managing stock, SteadyServ Technologies launched operations in 2012. Their flagship initiative, iKeg, is a simple smartphone IoT application that allows bar managers to easily track usage of beer kegs.
Some of the problems founders Steve Hershberger and Steve Kremer wanted to solve include inventory management, knowing what to order, and gaining insight into the current beer volume of kegs in service. The team rounded up some startling figures that supported their belief that a product designed to simplify these tasks would have a healthy market. For example:
- Three new brewers come online each week and there are over 4,000 beer distributors in the U.S. alone.
- Brewers commonly spend over two hours per customer location working with bar and beverage managers to help take inventory and place orders.
- Approximately 20 percent of every beer order placed is wrong.
Dan Timm, National Beverage Manager of Tolf Golf, said “SteadyServ is providing the information that I need, as an operator, to make product decisions across the country based on real data. Without this reporting I would be left with the info from sales reps and the local teams that can easily allow emotions and relationships to get in the way of good decision making.”
You cannot stock beer you haven’t ordered, and you cannot serve beer you do not have in stock.
The time for an IoT solution to manage it all had come.
How It Works
The SteadyServ iKeg system is a mobile, SaaS-based inventory and order management system designed specifically for the beer industry.
Each tap line is equipped with an RFID tag that designates which brand is on which tap line. The keg then sits on top of a smart-scale that measures how fast the keg’s weight is changing, which indicates how much beer people are drinking. Keg information is paired with sales data, so the iKeg app knows exactly how much beer is poured and sold.
The keg data are collected from each keg’s smart-scale and aggregated by a Digi gateway. The gateway analyzes the data locally, then uses an RF module connection to get that data into the cloud. The iKeg application gathers information from the cloud and provides an interface that displays analytics for brewers and bar managers.
The app enables these users to view and analyze reports that show what’s selling. Perhaps one beer enjoys popularity in summer, where another peaks in the chilly winter months. In addition to tracking keg metrics, the app provides visibility into bottle and can sales, and the performance of craft beers compared with name brands, thus allowing users to keep the best performing beers on hand at all times.
Now bar owners can save time and energy in counting and lifting kegs, as well as the frustration and inaccuracy involved in managing inventory with paper and pen. And ensuring they have the right amount of beer on hand at all times helps them better serve their customers while optimizing sales revenue.
To see the SteadyServ iKeg app in action, attend Electronica this November, and visit the Digi International booth. You can find Digi in Hall B5, Booth #263. Among the demos available, you’ll find a demo of the SteadyServ IoT application and iKeg app. (Yes, this means we will serve beer!) We look forward to seeing you there.
Jayna Locke has an extensive background in content marketing, and loves storytelling as a way to share innovations, industry insights and thought leadership.