OFS Report Shows How US Craft Brewers Can Combine Good Beer with Good Business

As Americans move to drinking higher-quality beer with local ingredients, there is a huge opportunity for the US craft beer industry to rapidly expand following a challenging, pandemic-laden year.

The industry is already one of the most engaging and collaborative in the country, and many brewing founders quickly find their love of beer can transition to a successful business. The local industry is further buoyed by the Government’s ‘Buy American’ Act and the mindset it brings in what we choose to drink.

At OFS, we recently released the Craft Brewers Benchmark Report, analyzing how efficiently tens of millions of gallons of craft beer across the US and the world is made, with the aim of finding out what ‘good looks like’ on the production line and how to make the lives of people on that line more fulfilling.

Good beer and good business

Good beer needs to be supported by good business, so it may surprise you to learn that the average craft brewer is only filling bottles or cans just over half (54 percent) of the time.

Three minutes and 12 seconds are lost to unplanned downtime on the packing line for every 1,000 beers produced. There are dozens of reasons for this, such as raw material and packaging material problems, equipment issues, and human error. The end result is less beer produced at a higher cost. OFS’ research found that every time a packing line is down, the opportunity cost is over 450 beers.

Craft brewers also spend approximately 49 minutes to set up a new job.

Despite these interruptions, US brewers are among the most efficient producers in the food and beverage manufacturing industry when the line is moving. They barely waste a drop with a 99.7 percent score for waste management and 98.6 percent score for speed.

And while the interruptions may seem like a great challenge, they actually might represent American craft brewing’s biggest opportunity as the fourth industrial revolution marches on.

A new view of data

For some craft brewers, a journey towards industry 4.0 can seem daunting and inaccessible, with tech advancements feeling too expensive or too out of their league. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Modern software is designed to simplify and democratize the whole IIoT process, giving brewers — no matter their size — the ability to run state-of-the-art tools and tech that turns any brewery into a smart brewery.

The main difference is how they produce and analyze production data to drive change and produce more efficiently. With detailed and accurate reports curated through software like OFS, a brewer can finally uncover the right data to identify where their operations can perform better and what the key production constraints are.

“There’s a difference between good beer and good business,” said one of the brewers which took part in the report. “You need to know what’s happening on the production line for every single run, know your best performing batches and brews, product and pack types, how efficient your operations and your brewery really are, and how you compare to other more established brewers in the industry.”

There are simple measurements, such as the vital overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) — the degree to which a manufacturing plant is truly productive — which show where the gaps are and how they can be addressed, not just in your own brewery but how you compare to others across the country and the globe.

Taking time to understand your OEE and moving data away from pen and paper into easily accessible and digestible software systems puts beer and the packing line in a whole different view, one that can lead to much greater efficiency.

Craft brewers can actually see how larger breweries and other manufacturers use data to drive efficiency and growth while running similar operations in their business.

This isn’t about getting lost in a mass of data, it’s quite the opposite. These insights can mean better days for people on your packing line and taking your beer and business to the next level at a time of huge opportunity for craft brewing.

We’ve worked with a variety of brewing clients to show them their own data streaming in real time and the boundless opportunities for improvement. This is automation, mastered by empowered people.

James Magee is CEO of global manufacturing performance software company OFS. See what good really looks like on your packing line by downloading the full report here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *