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Standardising data collection in breweries

Brewing companies operating across international sites face issues with data management, making it impossible to optimise performance across the production landscape. Here I argue the case for cross-facility digitalisation in the brewing industry and how data collection in breweries is vital.


According to McKinsey & Company, Industry 4.0 can deliver tangible operational benefits for manufacturers, one example being inventory cost savings of 20 to 50 per cent. Meanwhile, the US National Institute of Standards and Technology predicts smart manufacturing could save businesses $57.4 billion yearly in energy, materials and labour.

Breweries are no exception, and are increasingly turning to automation and the Internet of Things (IoT) technologies to become more efficient, lean and scalable in light of increasing production and energy costs.

This is more challenging for brewing companies that operate different sites worldwide. For breweries, as with any type of manufacturer, poor or outdated data management can negatively impact overall equipment effectiveness (OEE), cause unplanned downtime, decrease throughput and ultimately damage the company’s bottom line.

IoT technologies will prove crucial as the beer industry penetrates into new markets. For instance, a large multinational brewer might install sensors throughout its production line to monitor OEE, and upgrade its manufacturing execution systems (MES) to analyse the brewery data collected by these sensors.

This process is where some larger breweries are encountering problems. Managing these large reams of data consistently across multiple international sites simply isn’t feasible without software.

Bird’s eye view

Fortunately, industrial software, like COPA-DATA’s zenon, can play a vital role in supporting larger manufacturers with data management. zenon makes it possible to analyse data more efficiently and effectively within individual plants, and new and legacy systems can be integrated into the software platform to allow overall system improvements.

Features of zenon, like its Industrial Performance Analyzer, can present statistical analysis of equipment faults.

Production issues, like bottlenecks, can be identified and resolved quickly to stop them affecting the bottom line. Take the case of a brewery that, according to a study by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), was losing up to 10 per cent of its overall product. Even worse, the cause was unknown.

To solve the problem, the brewery used software and installed 40 sensors at key points throughout its production line. It was able to spot exactly where on the production line losses were being made, and address the issue. This put an end to the manufacturer’s 10 per cent loss.

Solutions like this rely on better data capture. By linking sensors to software platforms like zenon, it becomes possible to evaluate the frequency and duration of problems, and source their origin. A brewing company may find that production issues are caused by pressure and temperature imbalances, and resolve these issues accordingly within a predictive maintenance strategy.

Industrial software can also support massive improvements in production output. A brewery might use digital twinning to create a virtual recreation of its production line, allowing them to experiment with changes, without the financial risk of doing this on site. The digital simulation can identify performance improvements that can be made to the line, allowing a manufacturer to link its software to an MES and leverage this data to improve its production capacity. 

Multisite improvements

Once an individual brewery has used data capture to spot flaws or improvements, this information can be shared with other multinational sites. zenon Analyzer can relay data to operators at other international facilities, who can then investigate if they have the same problems or opportunities. Don’t underestimate the scale of the benefits manufacturers can achieve with software.

Going forward, there also is potential to combine zenon with other management systems, like control charts, to make data management even more integral to the production process. Brewing companies should turn to industrial automation software to avoid falling behind in the competitive global market. Automated data collection in breweries will be crucial for preventing downtime and managing data across multiple international sites, helping breweries expand globally.

For more information about data collection in breweries visit Brewery Automation with zenon.