Data analysed for a better pint

Picture: Joanna Kosinska
Data analysed for a better pint

A US brewery has deployed a data analysis software system to bring the power of the Internet of Things (IoT) and analytics to its factory floor.

Craft beer is booming business worldwide and even seasoned breweries are finding themselves looking for creative ways to keep up with thirsty consumers. With the development of the Internet of Things (IoT), manufacturers are creating enormous quantities of data which can be analysed and processed to optimise the process.

Cleveland-based Great Lakes Brewing Company (GLBC), an independent craft brewery founded in 1988, recently tapped into new manufacturing analytics technology that helps scale production without sacrificing product quality.

GLBC deployed the FactoryTalk Analytics for Devices appliance from Rockwell Automation to bring the power of the Internet of Things (IoT) and analytics to its factory floor. The technology gives GLBC greater insight into the health of its beer-brewing machinery to help increase efficiency, improve quality and minimise downtime.

“From day one, Great Lakes Brewing Company has been committed to good beer, which means we are relentlessly focused on quality – from the ingredients we use to our production process and beyond,” said John Blystone, electrical and control supervisor, Great Lakes Brewing Company. “Adding advanced analytics and hardware diagnostics to our factory floor allows us to continue fulfilling our quality commitment by giving us more meaningful insight into our production equipment.”

The solution provides health and diagnostic analytics from devices on the brewery’s plant floor. Inside the Rockwell Automation appliance there is a bot called Shelby that can interact with production staff using natural language processing. This technology is based on the Microsoft Bot Framework and trained with Microsoft Cognitive Services to help enable brewery staff to easily identify and address equipment challenges in real time.

“Shelby has been instrumental in our transition to a more connected plant-floor environment, allowing us to tap into a wealth of existing data to solve problems very quickly,” Blystone said.
The solution deployed by GLBC is one component of a joint technology collaboration between Rockwell Automation and Microsoft designed to help companies make the most of digital transformation.

“Great Lakes Brewing Company’s solution is part of a broader trend of digital transformation that is helping support the continued growth of industry in the US,” said Frank Kulaszewicz, senior vice president, Architecture and Software, Rockwell Automation. “By arming engineers with actionable data and insights, this technology is enhancing the great work they’re already doing and empowering them to create even better products.”

“Our work with Rockwell Automation has enabled manufacturing companies to transform their business using data and deep analytics to improve efficiency and productivity,” commented Sam George, director, Azure IoT at Microsoft Corp. “It’s great to see the differentiated solutions our long-standing alliance is providing for industrial and manufacturing customers.”

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