Adapting to the digital age has never been an easy endeavor for traditional companies. This problem is further compounded by those that are hesitant to embrace technology due to fears of over-complication or the disruption to what is “already working just fine”.
However, in today’s day and age, the “Internet of Things” (IoT) is a pretty universal concept as almost everyone has interacted with a product that contains IoT technology (smart lights, thermostats, video cameras, etc.). Unfortunately, IoT in the industrial/commercial world has not been as universally embraced by many companies.
Ipswich Ale Brewery, however, is not one of those companies. Ipswich Ale Brewery has been a fixture on Boston’s North Shore since 1991 – focused on brewing tradition, innovation, and community, but in the wake of COVID-19, it became clear that innovation and continuous improvement needed to be prioritized more than ever.
In this blog, we’ll discuss how Preddio’s technology has helped brewery partners like Ipswich Ale Brewery see real ROI in their operations and maintenance.
Increasing Productivity w/ Remote Monitoring
IoT has proven itself to provide incredible value for the food & beverage industry, even in the presence of the existing sensors and control systems that are already installed, but typically outdated or underutilized. This is not just because IoT technology can be installed quickly and easily to provide fresh insights for virtually any kind of asset, but more importantly because the freedom to explore continuous improvement projects is enabled.
One interesting application came to light recently while working with Ipswich Ale Brewery involving their steam boiler. Hot water and steam boilers are absolutely critical for the brewing process. They are used to control the brew temperature of various ingredients which give the final, and delicious, product its distinct flavor. Hot water and steam are also used for cleaning and sterilization of tanks, lines, tools, and kegs. Demand for hot water or steam can come rapidly, with large amounts consumed very quickly and dynamically, making the demands rigorous on the upstream equipment.
Enter the steam boiler at Ipswich Ale Brewery – a critical, but temperamental asset that was inconsistently failing without warning. Failures during the day would be caught and remedied quickly, however those occuring late at night or over the weekend would not be discovered until Monday morning after the damage had been done. The production department was in need of a fast solution, and came to Preddio for help. Using a single sensor, the Simplicity Gauge to measure steam pressure and temperature, and a Simplicity Edge gateway to send the data in real-time to the cloud, the boiler was instantly “IoT” enabled. Installation took less than 5 minutes, and allowed the production staff to set pressure/temperature threshold limits that would trigger an email, app, and text message notification when abnormal behavior occured.
Sure enough by nightfall, pressure levels had fallen below the required set point, but this time brewery operations staff were notified immediately. This allowed operators to take action and fix the problem before it impacted the current brew process. Going forward, production staff will have peace of mind knowing that their critical utilities are being monitored, even when staff are not physically on site.
These types of applications have a direct impact on a facility’s production output, which also impact downstream supply chain activities. In fact, a study from Deloitte found that predictive maintenance will save companies $630B by 2025 which really underscores the importance of having a high level of visibility into a company’s physical assets.
Using Data Efficiently
While preventing downtime and ensuring critical equipment health is important, Breweries like Ipswich Ale Brewery really get excited when they learn how IoT technology improves their sales or reduces their costs. IoT data used for the purposes of continuous improvement is essential for any production process. However data without purpose is meaningless, and can be counterproductive. In order to make the most effective use of collected IoT data, digital twins can be used to extract actionable insights.
Digital twins are essentially visual representations of complex systems or assets that are enriched by sensor data. Rather than manually digging through billions of historical data points, business focused logic is created to extrapolate actionable insights that are relevant to the specific use of the asset. These insights are then overlaid on top of a digital representation of the physical asset, bringing to light immediate issues or opportunities for continuous improvement.
A Bright Future for IoT
While we are incredibly excited about the benefits that IoT brings to craft breweries, don’t just take it from us. This is what Ipswich Ale Brewery production manager, Jim Beauvais, had to say about using IoT technology: “Working with Preddio Technologies has been very valuable. I started receiving alerts immediately when my boiler shuts down and now understand if it is due to high pressure or low water. I am already working with them on a few additional applications that will bring me data on both the maintenance and brewing side.”