Crafting the Future of Beer with the Internet of Things
Ahh, beer. The great equalizer in life, helping people find common ground and serving as the brain potion to launch ideas (some great...some not so great) since its creation. How many times have you heard a memorable story, invention, or product concept start with, “Well we met up to grab a beer and started talking?”
The story of SteadyServ is no different. SteadyServ is an efficient inventory management system for, you guessed it, draft beer.
The idea for SteadyServ began when brewmaster and now founder Steve Hershberger met up with a friend while traveling. His friend wanted him to try some of his new beers, but had to search several bars just to find one that had his suds on tap.
Hershberger immediately saw an opportunity for change.
Traditionally, bars, restaurants, and similar establishments track inventory in a very manual fashion. They keep kegs in a freezer, they track number of kegs remaining with a clipboard, and figure out how much beer is left in a single keg by estimating how heavy it is. Oftentimes, this information isn’t relayed back to the beer distributor quickly enough and the distributor bases their restock supply on a best guess.
“We’re an industry that has been terribly resistant to change for probably 100 years. But we’re now ready and open for significant change,” said Carl Bruggemeier, Vice Chairman of SteadyServ and CEO of The CZH Hospitality Group. “Our inventory management systems are very lacking. In many instances, we don’t know what we have, we don’t know how much we sell, and we don’t know when we sell it. We lose sales because our customers want what we don’t have.”
Ryan Kellerman, Director of Beverage and Hospitality for Scotty’s Brewhouse, says he spends a minimum of two and a half to two hours a week, per location, taking inventory in order to place their orders. Many managers are still using a pen and paper to collect information that impacts the business’ supply. If the beer rep doesn’t get their order in time, the rep will place it for them-by guessing.
“Imagine if HP guessed at what Best Buy needed to fill its shelves on any given month without talking to the company or looking at any hard data,” said Steve Hershberger, Chairman & CEO of SteadyServ Technologies. “On average, according to many in the industry, approximately 20% of every beer order placed is wrong. How would you feel if every Amazon order you received was wrong?”
Inventory should never be a best guess. This is where SteadyServ comes into the frothy equation.
The SteadyServ® iKeg® system is a mobile, SaaS-based inventory and order management system designed specifically for the beer industry.
Rather than play the guessing game, an RFID tag gets placed on each keg—similar to a luggage tag. The tag information contains information like born on date, brewery name and delivery location. The keg also sits on top of a sensor that measures its weight, which is a direct correlation to how much beer customers drink. The keg data is collected from each keg’s sensor and is aggregated by a Digi ConnectPort Gateway. The gateway analyzes the data locally, then uses a Zigbee connection to send the data into the cloud. The iKeg application gathers information from the cloud and offers an interface that displays analytics for bar managers, distributors and eventually, patrons.
The iKeg integrates with the POS system, so information is paired with sales data, and this connects to an easy-to-use mobile app called iKeg. Through the app, the bar knows exactly how much beer is poured and sold.
As you can see in the diagram, the iKeg app has both a retailer and distributor interface, which means the bar doesn’t have to worry about relaying information to the distributor, and the distributor knows exactly when, what type, and how much to restock.
SteadyServ’s iKeg app completely changes how the industry does supply chain and inventory management; which benefits the bars themselves, distributors, brewers, and patrons.
Not only do bars save time, money and pain in counting and lifting kegs, they’re not losing money to unhappy customers who expect their favorite drafts to be in stock. With iKeg, customers get exactly what they want when they want it. And you know what that means: more loyal customers knowing generating more revenue in an optimized operation.
SteadyServ has also released a product that shows patrons how much of their favorite brew is left with a digital sign that shares the live data.