Used RFID Technology and Mobility to implement a first of its kind solution in the Indian Beer industry to monitor movement of draught beer kegs on the field using GSM connectivity.
There has been a rapid demand of draught beer in India and to support this demand United Breweries has invested immensely in a large number of disposable kegs. Draught beer being fresher than bottled beer has a shorter shelf life. A key factor in ensuring appropriate service levels and cost management is the turnaround time of kegs and their security. The company faced a challenge to track the current manual system of kegs and also to manage the growing volumes of kegs. There was a requirement to use RFID technology to track the movement of kegs across the supply chain. Ramakrishnan Sudarshanam, Divisional VP– IT, United Breweries Limited built a custom solution to address this business challenge. So now, every keg is tagged with RFID tags and its movement across the supply chain from the brewery to the distribution points and thereon to the bars is recorded in the system.
RFID technology was chosen over barcode technology so that no scanning is needed. RFID technologies that support GSM were selected so that transaction could be uploaded to the server from the field. As a result, the system had to be designed with a simple and intuitive interface for it to be effectively used by people involved in the supply chain.
The system helped improve the turnaround time of kegs thereby increasing the availability of kegs for distribution which in turn increases overall sales. The system also helped in keeping track of the keg inventory on a real time basis at all locations and this visibility reduced the loss of kegs, while also improving the overall supply chain planning and execution.
Another important benefit was visibility of kegs lying with customers and also to note their ageing at any given point of time. Using this information, the distribution team is able to improve collection of empty kegs resulting in faster turnaround time and increase in the float available for distribution.
This project demonstrates how a new product line that has high market potential can be made successful by using cutting edge technology. Ramakrishnan, or ‘Ramki’ as he’s more popularly known as, has shown how it’s done like a true business technology leader.