Hamilton-based inventory management company Barventory designed a smart monitoring and control system for liquor bottles and beer kegs. Barventory partnered with Mohawk’s Additive Manufacturing Innovation Centre (AMIC) to help design and prototype the keg scale before launch.
Future Ready Challenge
Bars have a significant problem with inventory loss, generally due to mismeasurement, improper pouring and spillage. Estimates of product loss range from 10% to 20%, so managers try to track every ounce. Yet at present there is no reliable way to measure the contents of a draft beer keg. Bartenders know when kegs are empty, but they can never see how much is inside. In-line flow meters measure amounts dispensed, but they inaccurately measure foam as beer.
R & D Collaboration
Hamilton-based inventory control company Barventory has a solution: a smart scale, suitable for weighing kegs, which could continuously report inventory levels to managers and staff in real-time.
The company wanted to design a keg scale that would remain under each tapped keg, relaying beer quantities via IoT systems to a cloud infrastructure for online management. The data would then be viewed by a bartender through a custom-designed app that registers certain events, such as a pour, as they occur. The system would be configured via app settings to meet user specifications—for example, to automatically re-order kegs as needed. Barventory asked Mohawk’s Additive Manufacturing Innovation Centre (AMIC) to help design and prototype the keg scale before launch.
In consultation with Barventory, AMIC set out to design a scale that would meet the requirements of producers and consumers. It had to be strong enough to protect internal electronics under the full weight of a keg as well as handle the impact of regular keg changes. Following a function-based design approach, the research team determined that the scale also had to be liquid-proof, light-weight, and easy to assemble, and also able to be manufactured efficiently.
Over the design period, the AMIC team created twelve variant CAD (Computer Aided Design) versions of the initial design, experimenting with changing the placement of the electronics, liquid resistance features, assembly methods, and manufacturing methods. With the seventh version, they arrived at an overall form that met all requirements and had the desired look. Then they produced four physical prototypes to test for durability and functionality.
Finally, the team verified the integrity of the design with the 3D printed version. Estimating the number of keg changes expected over three years, they custom-built an apparatus to conduct 600 drop-tests of a 120-lb. keg on the scale from a height of 12 inches.
Having survived the punishment of laboratory testing, the keg scale is ready for real life. Barventory’s patents are pending, and they are preparing to distribute their systems across North America.
“Working with Mohawk College and their team proved to be beneficial for Barventory, We were able to work collaboratively through the partnership and accomplish something truly wonderful,” says Barventory CEO John Fazari. “The first wireless live keg scale became a reality and we are now selling the product internationally. There is no way we could have been confident enough to go to market so quick without Mohawk College, and their world-class facility and team!”