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Why Choose RFID for Keg Tracking in Breweries and Distilleries?

  • Abhishek Shukla
  • Apr 08, 2024
  • RFID
Why Choose RFID for Keg Tracking in Breweries and Distilleries?

“RFID is an ideal solution for industries such as beverage production in breweries and distilleries, pharmaceuticals, and logistics, where kegs, casks, and containers are subject to rigorous handling and storage conditions.”


A keg is a small barrel, usually 10-30 gallons, which is used to store and distribute beers in various restaurants, pubs, and events. The breweries and distilleries employ thousands of such kegs and casks on a daily basis and keeping an accurate record of such containers is a critical task. Most breweries and distilleries in Europe are burdened with added expenses amounting to millions of pounds due to misallocation, damage, and theft of their beer kegs, casks, and containers. I am not talking about just empty kegs and containers here as filled kegs are also misplaced and lost, mounting more losses every year. 


So, how do brewing firms, distilleries, and distributors keep track of such a critical asset? Well, most firms use the traditional method of barcoding to log the kegs and containers on a computerized system and manually track the movement of such barrels throughout the supply chain. Given the fact how inefficient barcodes are in 2024 and how technologies like RFID, BLE, and GPS tracking are more efficient and error-free, most breweries and distilleries are now switching to more robust, technologically advanced tracking and inventory management systems. 


RFID for Keg Tracking in Breweries and Distilleries 

The utilization of RFID (Radio-Frequency Identification) technology has emerged as a game-changer for tracking and monitoring kegs, casks, and other containers. It’s an innovative approach that involves the integration of RFID On-metal tagsRFID readers, and a sophisticated software system to streamline operations and enhance efficiency. 

Unlike barcode labels, a UHF RFID label on a keg can be scanned from a distance of 15m and one can scan 1000+ RFID tagged assets in a second, using an RFID reader, without any error. Some RFID handheld readers by Zebra and Chainway brands offer a read rate of 1300+ tags per second. Imagine the possibilities in terms of productivity and accuracy and the overall keg tracking operations. 

Although RFID tags are prone to interference in metal and liquid environments and most kegs, casks, and containers are made of metal, it is a big problem, compromising the overall efficiency. However, one can leverage RFID on-metal tags or RFID anti-metal tags which are designed to overcome such interference and provide enhanced performance in metal-intensive environments. 


Benefits of using RFID for Keg tracking 

The use of RFID technology for container tracking offers a plethora of benefits. Some of them are as follows:

1.The use of RFID tags on kegs and casks provides real-time visibility, enabling businesses to monitor the movement and location of their assets with precision. 

2. It provides transparency, which enhances inventory management, reduces the risk of loss or theft, and minimizes operational downtime. 

3. RFID technology facilitates automated data capture, eliminating the need for manual entry and reducing human error. This, in turn, leads to improved accuracy in inventory counts and asset utilization.

4. A significant advantage of RFID technology is its ability to withstand harsh environmental conditions and operate in challenging industrial settings. Anti-metal tags, specifically designed for use on metallic surfaces, ensure reliable and consistent data transmission even in the presence of interference from the container material.

5. RFID is an ideal solution for tracking RTIs (Returnable Transport Items) in industries such as beverage production, pharmaceuticals, and logistics, where kegs, casks, and containers are subject to rigorous handling and storage conditions.

6. RFID handheld readers can be used by staff at breweries to quickly identify and track a keg/barrel, ensure correct shelving, and implement first-in-first-out system as necessary. 

7. With an RFID-based software solution, businesses can accurately track these kegs and containers, ensuring a chain of custody and accountability. It minimizes losses and prevents shrinkage. 

8. RFID-based inventory management also deters thefts by sounding alarms and sending alerts when kegs and casks are moved from the inventory without authorization. The RFID tags on kegs are accurately scanned with the help of fixed RFID readers and antennas installed in the warehouse and the software systems raise an alert automatically. 

9. The integration of RFID readers and a software system enables seamless data collection, analysis, and reporting. Thus, by leveraging RFID, businesses can gain valuable insights into the utilization patterns of their containers, predict maintenance needs, and optimize supply chain operations.

10. The RFID-based software system acts as a central hub for data management, allowing for efficient asset tracking, inventory reconciliation, performance monitoring, etc.


Factor consider while implementing RFID technology in breweries and distilleries 

Despite the numerous benefits, the implementation of RFID technology for container tracking and monitoring presents critical aspects that require careful consideration as follows:


1.One of the primary concerns is the initial investment required for deploying RFID infrastructure. This includes the cost of anti-metal tags, RFID readers, antennas, and software integration. The cost of RFID tags, readers, and other accessories has come down significantly over the last decade, so that’s a plus. While the upfront expenditure may seem substantial, the long-term return on investment in terms of operational efficiency, reduced losses, and improved asset utilization outweighs the initial costs.

2. Since RFID tag performance depends on the environment, especially metal/liquid environments as radio waves face significant interference in such operational settings, it is critical to choose high-quality RFID on-metal tags that can be attached to metal kegs and barrels. 

3. Choosing RFID readers, handheld and fixed readers, and RFID antennas of optimum frequency is also critical. Choosing UHF RFID readers and antennas along with UHF RFID tags is a safe bet. UHF RFID is known for long-range performance. 

4. The transition to RFID technology necessitates a comprehensive change management strategy. Training employees to effectively utilize RFID systems and integrating RFID processes into existing workflows are crucial elements of a successful implementation. 

In conclusion, the integration of RFID technology for tracking and monitoring kegs, casks, and other barrels offers a transformative approach to supply chain management in breweries and distilleries. It also proves to benefit various distributors, pubs, restaurants, and other businesses allowing them to track incoming and outgoing beer kegs and casks. Thus, the benefits of real-time visibility, automated data capture, and resilience in challenging environments underscore the potential of RFID technology to revolutionize container tracking operations. 

Disclaimer: The information presented here is for general information purposes only and true to best of our understanding. Users are requested to use any information as per their own understanding and knowledge. Before using any of the information, please refer to our Privacy Policy and Terms and Conditions.

  • Created on Apr 08, 2024

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