In the course of our work with companies across a broad range of industries, we discovered that the automation requirements of craft breweries were not being effectively met by existing solutions. Many breweries are ready for an upgrade to their automation systems, but cannot afford to make the leap due to the high costs and complexity of major systems.
Two Types of Automation Systems
The problem is that most automation systems fall into just two main categories. The first type are the basic, off-the-shelf systems that are capable of automating simple processes. These usually come in a “box of parts” that you have to set up and customize on your own – or hire someone to install for you.
While these systems are simple, they are not very powerful and can usually only automate some of your brewery’s processes, leaving you with a partial solution. That may be fine for a small, startup brewery, but is definitely not robust or scalable enough for a serious, fast-growing operation.
The second type are the large-scale distributed control systems (DCS). These integrated systems allow you to automate the entire production process, and control all facets of your brewery from a single interface. Given sufficient scale, they can provide a significant boost to operational productivity.
However, these systems can also be very expensive and complicated. They often cost several $100,000s to install, and require a minimum of 8-10 pieces of specialized hardware to function, which usually need to be maintained by full-time in-house engineers.
For the typical craft brewery, this kind of system simply does not make financial or operational sense. Apart from the prohibitive cost, most brewers are not looking to turn their people into system programmers – they are simply looking for an effective way to improve productivity and quality, without adding too much complexity.
The Best of Both Worlds
Clearly, neither of these solutions is ideal for most craft breweries. That’s why we developed aX Brew, a system that combines the best of both worlds.
Unlike many basic systems, it is a fully integrated solution, able to automate your entire process, from brewhouse to cellar. But unlike many complex systems, it only requires standard, off-the-shelf hardware to function, and comes with modular software that is easy to customize and upgrade over time. This makes the system more affordable and much simpler for your non-technical staff to operate, while delivering the benefits of complete automation.
In addition, we know that upfront investment and ongoing technical support are important issues for craft breweries. That’s why we have developed a unique service model for aX Brew. Instead of a large upfront investment, customers pay for aX Brew on a monthly subscription basis, which reduces risk for you. That single subscription fee also includes ongoing support, so if anything goes wrong, give us a call and we will be happy to help. So not only is aX Brew easier on your cash flow, it also eliminates the need for a large in-house maintenance team.
In other words, aX Brew gives your brewery a fully integrated, turnkey automation solution at a fraction of the total cost and complexity. If you’re ready for an automation upgrade, but are tired of generic, over-priced systems that don’t fit your needs, this may be the right solution for you. Give us a call to learn how we can help.