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Craft Beer Company Using Satellite IoT to Monitor Transports

By Caleb Henry | February 29, 2016
B. United Beer Globalstar Ovinto

Ovinto, Globalstar and B. United brewers using satellite to ensure the freshness of craft beer. Photo: B. United

[Via Satellite 02-29-2016] U.S. beer distributor B. United International is deploying satellite-enabled sensor technology from Ovinto to monitor the location, temperature and pressure of hundreds of beer, cider and mead brands as they are shipped in tank containers from breweries around the world. The solution uses Globalstar’s STX3 chipset to gain real-time details about the status of beer in each container, even when it is in transit across the ocean.

Craft beers often use complex yeast strains and are notoriously difficult to transport because natural re-fermentation can increase the CO2 level, turning beer into foam. Distributors have had to either hope for the best, or use a shortcut tactic of bypassing natural re-fermentation altogether through the use of forced carbonation — an industrial process which emphasizes efficiency, but can detract from flavor and aroma. By finding an effective way of shipping beer in temperature controlled tank containers, B. United can cut costs as well as ensure flavor and aroma quality.

In October 2015, B. United fitted Ovinto’s satellite-enabled sensors in a 14,000-liter tank full of beer for a trial run. After its success, Ovinto Sat is now being installed in all of B. United’s tank containers, each with four temperature-controlled compartments. The deployment is scheduled for completion by spring 2016. The use of IoT ensures that B. United minimizes the beer’s exposure to pressure and temperature fluctuations, resulting in complex brews all naturally re-fermenting and tasting exactly the same on arrival in the U.S. as when they left the brewery in their country of origin.

“Thanks to this first Internet of Beer technology, our customers and partner breweries can see with their own eyes that the assumed trade-off between quality, freshness, cost, waste and distance can be eliminated. This new paradigm allows us to give all our customers brews of highest flavor and aroma complexity with absolutely no compromise,” said Matthias Neidhart, founder of B. United.

Bringing new levels of transparency to the beer distribution industry, B. United will also publish live satellite data about each tank container of beer.