Brewers can now reduce the risk of having to replace lost, stolen and misplaced beer kegs that can significantly push up their costs, according to the manufacturer of a new traceability solution for the industry.
Xterprise claims that it had adapted its Clarity-RTI software system for use in beer barrels by combining software, hardware and RFID technology to provide a relatively low cost tracing solution for US and European brewers.
In the US alone, Xterprise says that around 300,000 kegs are lost annually at a cost of $50m to the country's beer industry, as rising metal prices make the barrels a valuable resource.
The manufacturer says that it has therefore become increasingly vital in beer supply chains to ensure an effective means of monitoring both outbound and returning beer kegs during distribution.
"From brewing to consumption, the emphasis is on delivering beer to the consumer as quickly and cost efficiently as possible, plus ensuring that all kegs are returned," Xterprise stated.
Group marketing vice president Jim Caudill told FoodProductionDaily.com that the Clarity-RTI system was initially developed for reusable transport items, though has now been adapted for beer kegs after some "minor" adjustments to the product.
Alongside the Clarity-TRI software itself, Xterprise says that the traceability system makes use of an on-metal tag supplied by the Confidex group, designed to resist the rigours of keg transportation.
According to Caudill, tag readers can be used on pallets and locator boards, brewery lines, warehouse portals, fork-lift devices and even at handheld level, depending on the brewer.
The system is based on Microsoft platform technology like the Biztalk Server 2006 and BizTalk RFID, Xterprise says.
Costs and limits
In terms of range, Caudill says that there are effectively no limits to the product's range, a feature, the company adds, which makes it suitable for exporting.
However, the manufacturer conceded that this is dependant on the availability of data capture points in a brewer's supply network.
The group says that in terms of implementation costs, each solution was likely to differ between individual brewers, though a pilot system could be completed for between $50,000 to $100,000.