Can Craft and Artisanal Food and Beverage Products Ever Truly Be Digitalized?

Jan. 15, 2020

In the race to digitalize production, are craft and artisanal products being left out in the cold? 

On December 18, I moderated a panel for a friend of mine. The topic? Craft brewing. The audience? Programmers, consultants, and others in the technology field

As someone who has covered the marriage of manufacturing and technology for over a decade, I could see the intersection of batch production and blockchain as clear as day. As an aficionado of craft beer, I could understand where the relevance might have been as clear as last week’s mash.

The panel was made up of three owners of separate suburban craft breweries in the Chicago area. We covered a wide range of topics in the hour-long talk, including flavor profiles, social media, and Chicago taxes, but what stuck out the most to me was the technology each brewery was using.

Every single one of them used Microsoft Excel to keep track of financials, formulations, etc. As for their point of sale software? Square.

They had each beta tested other platforms, but the one they all agreed had the best return on investment and ease-of-use for their craft-brewed products and small production batches was Excel.

Because of the nature of the content we cover on Food Processing, Smart Industry, and our other sister brands, I was curious about where they were at in terms of digitalizing their production and where they stood with things like IIoT.

When I asked each of the three brewery owners if, and how, they were revving up for the fourth Industrial Revolution, each of them agreed the nature of their craft product prevents them from every truly hopping aboard the IIoT train. Sure, they captured temperature data and other various outputs, but would they ever compare to the likes of their big brand counterparts using IIoT daily? Not likely.

It was all about the craft.

It was a fascinating discussion and it brought to light something we don’t hear very often about small batch production IIoT.

I’m curious to hear your thoughts and ideas. E-Mail me and let’s get a dialogue started.

In the meantime, if you’re curious to understand how to scale up your production or better understand the data you’re collecting, consider checking out the Smart Industry event for tips and tools.

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