Smart stainless-steel keg rental company Kegstar is about to launch its new IoT enabled keg tracking with the roll out of Project Starlight. The Kegstar team has spent several years developing this tracking technology, which not only provides the exact real-time location of every keg, but also gives detailed information of what’s inside it.
The bespoke-designed IoT device is connected to the keg chime through a welded bracket to avoid impeding couplers, cleaners, fillers or lifters and is resistant to high-pressure cleaning. Project Starlight improves on Kegstar’s existing barcode and RFID-scanning tracking technology, which has already generated more than 22 million scans in over 10 countries, with more than 1,300 customers in Australia, New Zealand, UK, USA, Ireland and The Netherlands in just eight years since the business started.
As the technology is rolled out, customers can tap into data showing the location, temperature and orientation of each keg. It can also show things like whether the keg has been cleaned or filled, is being off-loaded from a truck or is ready for collection at a hospitality venue. “The device is even fitted with a light (but no whistle) to attract attention and aid on-site identification,” said Kevin Dinn, Kegstar’s technology lead.
The launch, expected to be rolled-out on at least 11,000 kegs before Christmas, forms part of Kegstar’s ongoing drive to use the latest technology to improve its customers’ business costs, efficiency and experience.
“Helping get great beer out there is what we do,” said Christian Barden, who leads Kegstar globally. “Knowing exactly how each keg travels through the supply chain will help us all to do it better. We have an exciting technology and growth journey ahead.”
“Making our smart kegs even smarter is what this is all about,” said Dinn, who has an impressive background in technology start-ups. “This is personal,” he continued. “My dad was director of the Canberra deep-space tracking station when they put the first man on the moon — so I guess tracking is in my blood.”
The design of the device benefited from cross-involvement from Kegstar, its customers, its industry friends and IoT technology partner Thinxtra. The device has three radio transmitters to cover every wireless environment, from city-wide locations right down to where each keg is in a facility. The transmitters are tuned specifically for challenging production and radio environments.
Sam Sharief, Chief Operating Officer, Thinxtra, said: “We’ve partnered closely throughout the process to create a feature-rich solution that is both scalable and future-proof.
“We’ve used smart edge computing capabilities, processing thousands of parameters in its motion engine and sending only relevant information back2base to maximize battery life. All that happens through a combination of RFID, Wifi, Bluetooth and Sigfox 0G long range connectivity.”
Sam said this also meant that software could be updated remotely as Kegstar adapted to the ever-changing beverage supply chain. Dinn added: “We’ve certainly got our work cut out in delivering this across our entire fleet, and it’ll be another fun part of how we improve our total customer experience.”