Beer! It’s the world’s most popular alcoholic beverage, and the most fun problem a chemical engineer could hope to work on. While beer has been brewed long before the industrial IoT revolution, it serves as a prime example for how connected devices can improve manufacturing and product development.
Let’s look at 5 areas where the internet of things can advance modern industry. Let us use the intoxicating example of a how a state-of-the-art brewery can leverage connected devices to better their brew. Go grab a beer and we will dive right in.
The beer making process is simple: make your wort (the pre-fermented beer), pitch your yeast, wait a bit, and bottle. But it is not always that easy.
Things can go wrong with the temperature or improper sanitation during fermentation that can dramatically affect a brews quality. Before a batch is ruined, internet connected sensors streaming data could detect bacterial infection or problems with a yeast culture, potentially saving the entire vat.
Quality control is vital to all areas of industry. Sensors informing engineers of quality every step of the way of a manufacturing run can catch early defects and eject them before more money and time is spent.
Real Time Intelligent Optimization
The difference between a light blonde ale and a thick russian imperial stout is how much unfermentable sugars and starches are left in the brewski. We can avoid the gory details of that chemical process, let’s just say it has a lot to do with temperature and duration during the mashing process (if you are interested you can check out howtobrew.com).
Equipping a brewmaster with real-time data of this process can tell them when all the starches have been converted. This could bring what was previously thought to be a 90 minute mash down to only 20, optimizing how time and resources are spent.
Flat beer sucks. The carbonation process pumps in CO2 that pressurizes the beer giving it that characteristic bubble. What were to happen if the tank were to get an invisible leak? What if that leak lead to a complete failure ending in explosive shrapnel and beer? That is a lot of money and cleaning up you need to do, and that stops the brewery in its tracks.
An Internet connected pressure gauge would not only offer the current information but it could relate the temporal information like the rate pressure is lost. This information could then be fed into a virtually intelligent algorithm to predict a gasket failure or defect in the tank.
Fine Tuning R&D
During fermentation temperature plays a large role in how fast sugar is converted into alcohol. The speed of the fermentation affects the types of alcohols produced giving the beer different flavors and textures. By placing an internet connected temperature sensor in the primary fermentation and streaming the data, the brewmaster can set variable temperature controls with software. Having this kind of information well documented on a server gives craft brewers new tools to explore advanced techniques previously unavailable.
Alright so this idea is a bit out there, but what if your product was tuned automatically to your customers tastes? Given the right customer information was sampled (like desired taste, color, aroma) a virtually intelligent algorithm could alter steps in the manufacturing process to more closely match customers needs.
Applying this concept to the “Internet of Beer” could play out something like this:
- 70% of all the people who pass through a craft brewers tap-room rate the new IPA as far too bitter via a mobile app.
- This information is processed by “BrewBot-2000’s” intelligent system could recommend adding less bittering hops to the mix.
- The resulting beer that is more pleasing to the customer’s palate and hopefully more return customers.
Utilizing the power of the internet to dynamically manufacture a product to your customer’s needs could change the rules. This powerful tool could equip a brewery to generate a true “local flavor.”
Where Does This Leave Industrial IoT?
The Internet of Manufacturing is coming. This “Internet of beer” example is just a snapshot of what is right around the corner, and every area of the industrial manufacturing process will see the benefits.
The Internet of things is a rising tide that will float all boats. Hopefully those boats are loaded with beer!
If there is anything that I may have not considered leave me a comment or find me on Twitter @d_thingable. I look forward to hearing from you.