From removing the caffeine in coffee beans to carbonating beer and soft drinks, the food and beverage industry is one of the largest users of carbon dioxide (CO2). This key ingredient has been facing a shortage that has only worsened in the last few years. And it’s now posing a significant challenge for the industry where new tools are needed by breweries to optimize CO2 usage.
Breweries, in particular, are bearing the brunt of the shortage as there’s no ready substitute for CO2. With beer reaching peak demand in the hot summer months, breweries scrambled to lock in limited supply. It was a perfect storm of increasing demand as pandemic restrictions were lifted combined with supply shortages.
To conserve scarce supplies, larger beverage manufacturers and breweries are turning to tools that capture and reuse CO2 from the manufacturing process. However, these systems are typically too costly and complex for smaller manufacturers and micro-breweries. So, how can these manufacturers get ahead of the shortage?
When the supply chain is operating under less-than-optimal conditions, manufacturers have three options available:
- They can prioritize agility by pivoting to an alternative product or solution
- They can prioritize buffering by adding additional sources of supply
- They can prioritize visibility by monitoring the supply chain as well as a specific product
In the case of breweries and F&B manufacturers, options are limited as CO2 is an essential ingredient in production, which means agility is out of the question. And given the limited regional distribution of CO2, F&B manufacturers can’t tap into additional remote suppliers or imported options.
Fortunately, increasing visibility through IIoT-enabled remote monitoring can help breweries and F&B manufacturers weather the storm now while providing actionable, data-driven results that can help them run more efficiently in the long run. Here’s how.
Improving Operational Efficiency
IIoT-enabled condition monitoring is a proven, simple, and cost-effective solution for the food and beverage industry. Sensors provide manufacturers with an accurate real-time view of in-process CO2 inventory. And sensors linked to storage vessels can even highlight raw inventory levels. Even the rate of CO2 usage can be predicted, and alerts can be created when a refill is needed for just-in-time coordination with vendors.
Conducting Operations with Safety and Compliance in Mind
Because of skilled labor shortages, CO2 leaks are happening more often. This extra waste is compounding industry shortages while potentially leading to health risks for active employees. IIoT solves this by detecting CO2 leaks and delivering alerts and actionable data directly to service teams. Using this same technology, IIoT temperature sensors are also being deployed to ensure consumer product quality.
Weathering the Inevitable Price Shock
Shortages lead to price increases, and everyone across the supply chain feels inflationary pressure: from the raw material suppliers to manufacturers to consumers. Optimizing productivity, minimizing waste, and keeping costs manageable are essential for survival. With almost 10,000 small brewers in North America, the ones that focus on efficiency are more likely to thrive.
IIoT production monitoring frees captive data and delivers actionable information to manufacturers. It also helps them make the most out of what they have. Not only CO2 consumption but overall product quality can be improved using IIoT digital twins. Furthermore, this helps modern manufacturers produce more products faster, consistently, and with less waste.
Digital twins automatically convert raw sensor data into actionable business intelligence. Furthermore, digital twins can even help organizations build virtual production simulations to test production changes in a non-production environment.
Visibility into the manufacturing process informs users about their current raw materials and in-process product status while showing them where they’re heading. In an inflationary business environment, efficiency and cost containment should be at the top of the facility’s plan. IIoT makes it possible to measure production and solve problems before they become urgent.