“From Passion to Profits, Taking your Brewery to the Next Level: Part 3”

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The DudeWhat can I say? I love the Dude. “The Dude abides.” But, my favorite quote from the Cohen brother’s cult favorite, The Big Lebowksi, has to be, “That rug really tied the room together man.”

I think this quote works for our discussion today as we look at the needs of craft breweries producing over 100k BBL annually. When breweries reach this level, it’s all about bringing things together. Managing multiple production facilities, defining more precise operations with formulas, and integrations with control systems.

In this group, you will find some well-known brands such as Sierra Nevada, New Belgium, Stone Brewing Company, and Dogfish Head Brewery. Breweries at this level typically have successfully implemented an ERP system and have a need to formalize processes and dive into deeper data navigation across multiple facilities. Applications such as Microsoft Dynamics® (there are many flavors of Dynamics) with third party specialty applications such as VicinityBrew® are a powerful solution for these breweries. These larger breweries typically have an onsite IT support team and their in-house server hardware.  These companies have the infrastructure and bandwidth to support a traditional ERP system.

100k BBL is a lot of beer. Understandably, as demand increases, so does the need for systematic procedures and uniformity throughout the brewery. But if you are a brewery that has broken the 100k barrel per year mark, you may want to take a look at the following practices within you production operations.

  • Defining processes in formulas
  • Integration to control systems
  • Multiple brewery scheduling

Challenge: Defining processes in formulas.

Solution: There is clearly a typical way beer is made.  Specific methods vary from brewery to brewery.  This is one reason the same brew formula in one brewery will yield different results in another brewery.  The system and the way the beer is made in that specific system is the key to consistency.

As a brewery matures, making consistent beers in larger volumes and potentially at different brewing sites becomes a bigger challenge.  This requires standardization and communication of those standards.

In the early days of a brewery the brew formula or fermentation process may be loosely defined and altered regularly.  This is method becomes much more complex as the brewery grows in volume.

What started out as a list of ingredients and simple instructions just won’t cut it as the brewery grows.

One method of communicating standards is to provide more processing information in the formula than they did when they were starting out.  This may be related to how raw materials are introduced or specific equipment settings needed for a style of beer.  The formula becomes more than just a list of ingredients and instructions but also a communication tool to assist the brewers, fermenters and packers.  In short it provides more structure to the beer making process.

VicinityBrew allows a Brew Master to define the beer making process using Unit Procedures, Operations and Phases.  Many of you may recognize this as the S88 standard to communicate to control systems.  VicinityBrew has embedding that three level structure in the core formula architecture.  This provides a way to better define the steps and processes to making beer.

One way to communicate specific technical information is by creating user-defined parameters. Breweries may want to communicate machine settings, transfer rates, resting times and a whole host of other information.  This data is not easily communicated in a block of text.

At any step in that process materials, instructions, labor, QC and parameters can be defined.  This gives needed structure to breweries increasing in production volume.

So a brewery in its emerging stages may not have the need to centralize production processes – rest assured as they grow beyond 50k BBL and above 100K BBL this become crucial.

VicinityBrew addresses this need out of the box and is ready to provide that needed structure when the time is right. 

Challenge: Integrations to control systems.

Solution: The design of VicinityBrew’s formula management module and hence, our batch tickets, is developed in such a way that it follows the industry standard of an S88. An S88 defines the levels and or data within a control system. These are the levels of information a control system reads. VicinityBrew adopted this S88 industry standard in the creation of formula management, so when it is time for a brew log to talk to the control system that is running the Brew house, such as Delta-V or Braumat, it will marry up much easier.

Challenge: Multiple brewery scheduling.

Solution: VicinityBrew allows you to account for multiple production facilities. This allows breweries to consistently produce the same finished good or SKU from multiple locations. For example, a production facility in California will have different equipment, different climate, and even different water from a facility in North Carolina. With VicinityBrew software, breweries can define the beer making process specific to each facility. The result is a standard quality and consistency in every SKU.  For example, an IPA made in a brewery’s California facility will be exactly like an IPA produced in their North Carolina facility. This simplifies customer service. Customer service does not have to worry about whether the IPA came from California or North Carolina. All they need to know is where you want to ship the SKU out of, thus pushing it to scheduling.

Check out these videos to see more information. Our next post will have a supply chain discussion on the main differences between a bar-code data collection system and a full warehouse management system (WMS) and where each solution fits best.

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