Grafico

Keg-MonitorTM – Wireless Sensor Systems for In-situ Weighing of Beer Barrels

I have no doubt that the work performed by the various engineers in the TEC Gateway was central to getting the project to its current state of market readiness. Independent evaluation of the TEC Gateway’s work conducted for me by independent engineers revealed a high level of praise of the quality of the work as well as the ingenuity that was employed in solving the problems encountered. I would have no hesitation in employing the services of the TEC Gateway or in recommending the TEC Gateway to other people in need of this type of expertise. I also found it a pleasure to deal with all the staff in the Centre on a personal level. All communication was prompt and clear. I can honestly say that it is a pleasure to deal with the TEC Gateway.
John D’Alton, Grafico Ltd

Project Description:

One of the Centre’s first projects the Keg:Monitor™ for partner, Grafico Ltd. John D’Alton CEO, contacted the TEC Gateway for support in developing a stock management tool for draught beer.

Draught beer loss is a long-standing problem for the licensed trade. Until the development of Keg:Monitor™ publicans dealt with draught losses as follows: Do nothing. (Treat the problem as one that can’t be solved, just another cost of doing business.) Weigh the kegs daily or weekly. Install a flow-meter system. Even if kegs are weighed daily, the information is historical and at best can be regarded as a deterrent. At worst, it merely enumerates the losses. Flow meters measure flow, a moving target. Accurate records of keg changes must be kept if the information is to be any good. Because the flow meter impellers inhibit proper line cleaning, the breweries strongly oppose their use.

With this problem statement, the TEC Gateway devised the current solution, a system which continually weighs the beer kegs. The first step in the solution was to develop a working prototype. The project scope was defined after brainstorming and focused discussions. The project was divided into several work packages which were then broken down to show clear milestones and deliverables. The main output was a prototype consisting of a wireless weighing scales designed to provide accurate, real-time data on the weight of tapped beer kegs. The platform was designed to communicate relevant weight data to a base station using wireless communication technology. The base station operates a user interface designed to collect and represent the monitored data in an appropriate format. The system is scalable and allows relevant beer-pour information to be accessed and managed through any Wi-Fi enabled device, PDA or smart phone and via the Internet.

Throughout the project, regular communication and status meetings were held. A further project was undertaken to optimise the prototype concentrating on the hardware and software subsystems. It involved the specification and design of a new sensor conditioning board with improved power performance characteristics as well as modification of the existing user interface software to extend its functionality.

The advantage of this system is the beer kegs no longer have to be weighed manually during the stock management process. The amount of beer in each keg can be accessed easily at any time. Regular reports on this data can be received. The solution promotes good stewardship and should maximise the yield from each keg for the bar owner.

The successful completion of this project enabled the company to demonstrate the optimised prototype and led on to a further research project which required preparation of the prototype for field trial and trial implementation. John D’Alton availed of the Enterprise Ireland Pooled Voucher scheme and brought in 4 other companies as partners. The objectives of that project were to prepare the Keg:Monitor™ for field trial, implement the field trial and analyse the results. Ten units of the Keg:Monitor™ were prepared for a two month long field trial in a large pub in Cork City. Issues addressed during optimisation included: power consumption, selection of appropriate load cells, suitable and robust mechanical arrangement for weighing beer kegs and user interface review. The prototype is now in a market ready state.

For more information on this case study or other projects at the TEC Gateway, CIT please contact either

Richard Linger, TEC Gateway Manager on 021-4335562 or

Sinead Rodgers, Industry links programme coordinator on 021-4335569.