A microbrewery or craft brewery produces beer on a much smaller scale than corporate breweries. In order to succeed in such a fiercely competitive marketplace it is important that all beer is produced to a consistent high quality so that discerning consumers can truly appreciate the unique aroma, flavour and tradition of the brand. The 15,000 European craft brewers (microbrewers) across Europe represent a significant SME manufacturing sector. One of their key quality objectives is to ensure that their products are consumed in an optimum time window when beer is neither too young nor too old.All beers have unique characteristics and this window varies from beer to beer.
Whilst a policy of shipping the oldest beer first is easy to implement, and has the advantage that the residual stock has the maximum remaining shelf life, this does not optimise quality at the time of consumption. To optimise quality casks needs to be intelligently allocated to clients individually so that the casks are opened and consumed at the beer’s ideal age for consumption; this also needs to be done in such a way that today’s deliveries do not compromise the quality of future orders. As part of I4MS, the multinational technology providers of the CloudSME project led by the University of Westminster, has enabled Saker Solutions (a SME based in the Midlands, UK) to work with Hobsons Brewery (an SME craft brewer based in rural Shropshire, UK), the Simul8 Corporation (a SME based in Glasgow, UK) and Brunel University London to create low-cost, cloud-based process simulation technology that brings some of the advantages of the technique to craft brewers at an affordable price. The core of the system is a reconfigurable cloud-based simulation template that has been created by Saker Solutions using the Simul8 cloud service deployed on the CloudSME Simulation Platform.
The tool easily allows the brewer to identify which casks should be delivered to which clients in order to maximise the quality of beer and minimise spoilage. It also allows the brewer to experiment with different production schedules to help him/her ensure that future demands are correctly covered and spoilage is minimised. This could lead to over €10,000 per year savings from reduced waste, energy consumption and more efficient cask utilisation and transportation costs. It is also expected that a craft brewer producing more reliable product will also improve sales leading to an expanded business and increased employment opportunities in rural areas. At a 10% take up of the simulation template system this could lead to around €17 million savings and over 200 new jobs in rural areas across the sector.