Close Brothers Brewery Rentals

Faced with an ever-growing fleet of assets and pressure from the competition, Close Brothers recognised they needed to gain more insight into where their equipment was, how it was being used and what the cycle times were.

The problem

Faced with an ever-growing fleet of assets and pressure from the competition, Close Brothers recognised they needed to get smarter around understanding where their equipment was, how it was being used and what the cycle times were. In addition, it was important to minimise losses and damages of these expensive pieces of equipment.

Prior to engaging with Coriel, the business had already started to RFID tag their equipment and build an asset register, which was updated using handheld readers in the field as part of a general inspection, however, it was a very manual operation, there was no ability to read assets in bulk and no real integration to their core systems.

The next stage was therefore to look at an integrated static scanning solution, capable of reliably reading and recording the thousands of assets as they moved from production, through the depots and customer sites and ultimately back to base. 

Working with Coriel

The team had commenced a trial with a previous company, but it was clear from an early stage that they were not going to be able to deal with the complicated ‘physics’ and setup required for this type project. The combination of rugged/industrial environment, metals assets, abundance of liquids and sheer quantity of assets to be read would prove a real challenge. In 2019 the company therefore approached several companies in the AutoID market to understand who could deliver their complex requirements.

 After evaluating and dismissing several companies, Darren and the team were impressed with the Coriel business and what it was able to deliver. Although Coriel did not have a track record of specifically working in the brewery industry before, it wasn’t a concern for Darren:

 “We understood that the Coriel team hadn’t worked in the brewery industry before, but they had a successful track record of dealing with difficult assets in really harsh environments – like the rail industry. What was apparent from day one was that the team really understood the complicated physics behind the solutions and how to deal with noisy and harsh environments.”

 The technical capabilities of the team and the knowledge and experience they brought were a key factor in Coriel being selected. As Darren added:

 “Together with the track record they had we were especially impressed with the sheer amount of knowledge the team had that we could tap into. Everything from optimising the overall system to ensuring our data models followed the GS1 standards. It was that ability to sit down or pick up the phone and bounce ideas around that really impressed us and we knew we simply wouldn’t get that level of access with some of the larger players in the market.”

With a fleet of over 2.5 million assets, the systems needed to track the individual units is of fundamental importance to us, ensuring the business understand where our assets are in the field and when they are likely to be returned.

Darren Lock

Director of Digital Innovation, Close Brothers Brewery Rentals

Project success

The project has been a real success, with the overall system achieving accuracy rates of between 99.5 – 99.8%, which is well within the expected tolerance and exceptionally good performance given the quantity of tags being read at any one time, the use of metal assets and abundance of liquid.

Having an accurate method of tracking their assets around their sites and out to their customer sites gives them complete visibility of their estate, which has led to:

An accurate position on the number of assets in the fleet

Previous systems always provided a best guess on the number of assets the business had in their pool at any time, with no real visibility of where they were or how they were being used. With the end-to-end tracking system, they are now able to accurately understand exactly how many kegs are in the pool and their usage.

A true view of the cycle time for each asset type

As important as understanding how many assets exist, is how long it typically takes them to come back from customer use – therefore allowing the team to control production and ensure the pool it always running a peak capacity. With accurate last known location and timed tracking in and out of their facilities, the team are now able to accurately understand current usage and predict future demand.

Discovering of issues with shorts at the procurement stage

An interesting secondary benefit of the project has been significantly improved visibility at the procurement/production of the kegs, where the business was able to identify mistakes that were leading under-supply of assets. Previously this loss had been encapsulated into general asset loss throughout – closing this gap therefore gave immediate cost savings and ensured the correct amount of assets were entering the pool.

November 2021, the project continues …

2021 has been a busy year for the project team, with another 13 new brewery sites now adopting a range of production line RFID systems to help streamline their keg receipt and filling processes. As of November, we have now extended the project to brewery across the UK and further afield into mainland Europe.

High-speed, high accuracy reading portals


To allow Close Brothers to explore the benefits of instant, mass receipt and despatch of kegs, we have additionally been working closely with the team this year to trial a high-performance portal system capable of reading kegs while they are loaded on a curtain-sided trailer. This system will close the loop in terms of asset management, providing visibility of inbound empty kegs as soon as they enter the facility and so is an important step for the project.

So far, the proof-of-concept trial has been a huge success, with the system able to reliably read over 700 trailer-loaded kegs at 95% accuracy within seconds, which represents a huge time saving compared to manual receipt. This level of performance simply wouldn’t be possible without the integral relationship we have with the team at Acceliot, who provide us with core RFID readers for this project.

Continuing to deliver outstanding support


As this project (and others in the Coriel portfolio) grow in scale and importance, we’ve recognised that we need to partner with an organisation that can help us continue to deliver the outstanding service with which we’ve become associated. For that reason, we’re delighted to have formed a strategic alliance this year with the team at DPS Group, who will help us add scale to our installation and support services moving forward.

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