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2017 Master Brewers Conference
28. Internet of Things approach to increase starch and proteins in malt

Lawrence Worde, AizoOn, Troy, MI, U.S.A.

Coauthor(s): Rob Dolci, SME, Lewiston, ME, U.S.A.

Malt and Grains I
Friday, October 13
8:00–9:45 a.m.
Imperial Salon B

This presentation will provide evidence of the benefits an "Industrial Internet of Things" (IIoT) approach can bring to craft breweries, specifically focusing on the improvements obtained at Blue Ox, a malthouse in Maine. IIoT refers to a system made of sensors and PLCs, which gather datapoints at fixed time intervals and send the data to an IoT platform resident on the cloud, where a SW application develops time series and a historical archive and ultimately provides intelligence through machine learning. In practice, by reading how temperature, humidity, air flow, pH, and CO2 in the different moments of the malting process interact, it is possible to gather enough intelligence to tune the process for better productivity and quality. In the case of Blue Ox Malthouse, we analyzed how the characteristics of grains just received in stock and the ones of malts being shipped to customers changed over time in combination with different settings and schedules. Settings refer to the temperatures, air flows, and other control levels that PLCs and manual operations define, while scheduling refers to the elapsed time for each of the tasks in the process. Defining and implementing IIoT is not easy as partner and business owner need to engage in a mutual learning process: 1) define processes in detail; 2) determine the likely impact of temperature, humidity, pH, CO2, and airflow in the different steps; 3) install and configure the sensors and integrate the readings of PLCs; 4) conduct design of experiments to confirm or modify the initial understanding (point #2); 5) redeploy and adjust sensors and PLC to optimize data gathering; 6) build time series and correlation analysis; 7) teach the artificial intelligence system what to make of the data; and 8) review results with the stakeholder. In the course of the presentation AizoOn will provide examples of the lessons learned during the project, ranging from the choice of sensors and their location to the best way to collect manual data and qualitative feedback. The most important aspect however is that thanks to this approach and technology Blue Ox was able to improve the quantity of starch and proteins in their malt, effectively achieving higher alcohol at the brewhouse. The presentation closes with a Q&A session to enable participants ask about IIoT in their facility.

Lawrence Worde brings much experience in brewing and manufacturing automation, having spent more than 15 years supporting major global companies with brewing operations. Currently in charge of business development for AizoOn, Lawrence helps craft breweries increase their productivity and quality with the latest technology.

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