New Belgium Goes RFID

Company will be able to track keg from fill to return

New Belgium Brewing Co. is using radio frequency identification (RFID) to track kegs from its brewery in Fort Collins, Colo.

The relativey new technology allows the brewer to track when a particular keg was filled at its facility, shipped to a distributor, onto a restaurant or pub, and then returned to the brewery.

After a pallet is loaded, it passes through the fixed interrogator portal that reads the unique ID number encoded to each keg tag. Those tag numbers, along with the time and date of the read, are then sent to software system residing on New Belgium’s back-end server. The staff also prints a bar-coded ID number onto an adhesive label and applies it to the pallet’s exterior. The pallet ID number is married to the data regarding the kegs loaded onto that pallet.

At a later time, when the loaded pallet is shipped, its bar-code label is scanned, and that ID number is then recorded, along with the kegs’ RFID numbers and the time, date and intended destination. In this way, the company retains a record as to which kegs are loaded onto which pallet and, ultimately, where they will be shipped. Other data, including the type of beer with which the keg is filled, is also stored in the system.

After it tags all of its kegs and installs readers at the DCs, restaurants, bars and stores, the company intends to track each keg’s current location in the supply chain, as well as the length of time the kegs remain at distributors. The system already provides data regarding each keg’s cycle time—the period starting at the moment that keg is filled, and ending when it is later refilled.

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Comments

  1. lhall says

    They are going to pay to install readers at every distributor, restaurant, retail outlet, etc?

  2. gitchegumee says

    Electronics on a boat are bad enough, but I can’t imagine the rigors that these keg ID tags are subject to. Hot, cold, acid, caustic, banging around. Seems like a really tough environment.

  3. beertje46 says

    gitchegumee wrote: Electronics on a boat are bad enough, but I can’t imagine the rigors that these keg ID tags are subject to. Hot, cold, acid, caustic, banging around. Seems like a really tough environment.

    Specially on a retrofit like the one shown. I researched the embedded type but until there is this…

    lhall wrote: They are going to pay to install readers at every distributor, restaurant, retail outlet, etc?

    …doesn’t make sense outside your home market.

  4. einhorn says

    Not every restaurant & bar must have one, but every driver at each distributor must scan each keg when delivered and when the empty is picked up. Don’t know if they are paying for this, but I would assume so – unless the Big 3 have plans to implement themselves…

  5. dick murton says

    Hmm

    Have to say that this particular transponder doesn’t look very well fastened on, or particularly robust as a unit. And it seems odd putting it on the bottom where it is hard to read easily. I can see that putting off the distribution guys

    The big problem is when they get moved out of the normal sales area, perhaps sold on by a third party. Then someone takes the hit for the deposit, and then probably stops taking beer from that producer. So good idea if they are securely fastened and don’t get lost of damaged before final distribution, AND the entire distributio system can be controlled effectively, but otherwise….

    The latest embedded ones are very secure, but I don’t know how robust they are long term against steam, dropped kegs etc

  6. Jephro says

    dick murton wrote: Hmm
    And it seems odd putting it on the bottom where it is hard to read easily.

    RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) are passive chips can be read at some distance with an active (powered) reciever, i have a new US Passport Card w/ an embeded RFID chip that comes in a metallic sleeve to protect it from being read w/o your knowledge. But supposedly if not in this sleeve the can be read from your pocket in your wallet from an active receiver in close proximity to you. i.e. going via security at the airport. Just like the security tags merchants put on items to prevent shoplifting.

    My assumption is that they just put an active receiver on the trucks and loading docks to check them in and out as they go through the recievers signal.