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.

Sites installed

Assets tagged

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. 

Sites installed

Assets tagged

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.

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