Smarter Machines Equal Sustainable Beer: How IoT Can Help Brewers Deliver the Perfect Pint
By utilizing IoT within the filtration process, brewers can recognize efficiency and quality gains, meet sustainability goals and ultimately deliver that perfect pint to the customer.
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Our appetite for a pint or two shows no sign of abating, with beer believed to be the fourth most consumed drink in the world, after water, tea and coffee. The global beer market is projected to grow from $821.39 billion in 2023 to $1,072.50 billion by 2030 and, as with almost all industries, technology enables this growth.
Although the market is growing, brewers still face fundamental challenges in regard to quality, sustainability and efficiency. Efficient production is foundational to success, and by utilizing technology such as the Internet of Things (IoT) within the filtration process, brewers can recognize efficiency and quality gains, meet sustainability goals and ultimately deliver that perfect pint to the customer.
Quality and efficiency challenges
The beer-making process is complex, with high-quality standards set to preserve the specific taste and flavor of each particular brew. Large-scale breweries have the added challenge of maintaining consistency across multiple sites. Historically, it has been difficult to access and evaluate meaningful data in real-time to address potential issues before they impact product quality.
To achieve a high-quality product, there must be consistency throughout the filtration process. If temperature settings are off on one of the filtration machines, it could ruin the entire batch of beer. If this issue isn’t corrected quickly, it will impact multiple batches and an entire production day could be wasted.
Lack of visibility into quality performance metrics combined with the potential for human error (with multiple operators running equipment differently and reporting the data manually), can create inconsistencies in the flow rate and temperature data collected. Because brewers may not be able to identify these issues until after the problem occurred, there is no way to recover lost product or time.
Brewers around the world are focusing more and more on sustainability initiatives and greener manufacturing practices. Brewing uses a significant amount of water; it’s estimated that it takes roughly 4–8 gallons of water to produce one gallon of beer. Beer production also requires a significant amount of energy. According to a study by the Brewer’s Association, it takes 50–60 kWh (or 50,000 watts) to produce one barrel of beer. Leveraging membrane filtration for microbiological stabilization compared to thermal installations is a good first step to help achieve sustainability goals by reducing energy, as flash pasteurizers consume up to 80% more energy on the thermal and electric side compared to beer final filtration with membranes, but there are new technologies available that can enable more energy savings than before.
Brewers recognize the potential for water and energy reduction, but without access to accurate data, it’s a challenge for brewers to identify trends and focus on initiatives that will provide the most impact on the environment in a positive way.
An optimized approach
IoT technology addresses quality, efficiency and sustainability challenges head on, providing easy access to accurate, quantifiable data on various devices that enable real-time decision-making to optimize operations. With unprecedented access to real-time and historical data, process optimization becomes more efficient, which improves overall operational expenses.
Connecting the filtration machine to the cloud provides brewers with access to accurate data in real-time. For example, if the oxygen levels are out of specification, a smart system will adjust process parameters to meet the quality specification. This process visibility helps identify potential problems before they impact the quality of the beer, making the whole process more consistent and efficient.
Along with quality and efficiency gains, IoT can support sustainability initiatives by tracking volumes of water used during the process, helping identify where to reduce water usage. By pairing IoT with a membrane filtration system, brewers will be able to identify more areas to optimize machine performance which leads to a reduction of overall energy usage during production. In addition, leveraging IoT on a filtration machine allows for the collection and tracking of sustainability related metrics (i.e., water and energy usage) to continually reduce consumption.
Connecting the dots with IoT
For brewers, IoT brings a new level of accurate data that allows operators to make adjustments so one off batch doesn’t negatively impact an entire day of production. Through the use of IoT in the filtration process, quality, efficiency and sustainability challenges are becoming less of a roadblock to producing the perfect pint every time, with less impact on the environment.
About the author:
Dr. Roland Pahl is a beer industry expert currently working at Pall Corporation, focused on the brewing industry.