Pradnyal Gandhi
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Brewing Up An IoT Solution

Oct. 28, 2020
Brewery looks to IoT to help with thermal checks, enabling it to safely reopen its taproom.

The pandemic understandably impacted most business operations – challenging organizations to find creative ways to move forward effectively and safely.

After two months of to-go only sales, when patio service resumed in May, Ignite Brewing Co. was able to welcome customers and employees back to its brewery safely and confidentially in large part because of they were able to quickly install thermal cameras for temperature monitoring in order to detect high temperatures and prevent the potential further spread of the disease. Ignite’s partnership with Insight Enterprises enabled the installation of these cameras and an Internet of Things (IoT) platform to provide Ignite with the ability to better monitor and manage the health of customers and staff to ensure a safer environment for everyone at the brewery. 

The thermal cameras allow the Ignite team to detect high temperatures in real-time in order to prevent further spread of potential disease. To date, Ignite’s thermal cameras have been taking 115,000+ total accurate temperature scans on average in a month, with 10,000+ scans in a single busy Saturday.

Maximizing the investment

Michael Chisnell, partner at Ignite, tells IndustryWeek plans are in place to “leverage Insight’s IoT-based Connected Platform beyond the current monitoring we’re doing for elevated human temperatures,” he says. “We’re considering ways to apply the technology in additional ways that can be used even after COVID-19, such as to monitor unsafe gas conditions in our coolers and to monitor food temperatures following the upcoming installation of our kitchen. We’d actually originally been looking at using this technology for food and beverage temperature sensors but pivoted to using it first for human temperature monitoring in light of COVID-19.”

Since taking the thermal cameras and IoT system live, Ignite has worked closely with Insight to constantly calibrate and adjust for factors that had led to false detections of high temperatures – like metal tables outside the brewery that can get hot throughout the day and sometimes cause a spike in elevated temperature alerts for individuals scanned near the tables. “Similarly, we realized dark colored hats or face masks could lead to incorrect elevated temperatures, and we’ve adjusted the system and our processes for this along the way,” says Chisnell. “Calibrating the technology is an essential step in helping ensure we’re getting the most accurate temperature reads to better protect our customers and staff. Currently, the number of elevated temperatures detected is trending down in the right direction due to improved camera calibration.”

As entrepreneurs and small business owners, nothing can beat being able to run the business from a phone, explains Chisnell. “And IoT allows us to run our business even more efficiently and effectively. The thermal cameras installed in our brewery scan the temperatures and use the IoT platform to alert key members of our staff of any elevated temperatures via real-time emails to their phones,” he says. “Because of this, we can make an immediate decision when a high temperature is flagged and, ultimately, are able to run a safer taproom.  For us, the benefit is that this technology offers a wholistic view into the IoT ecosystem to control, monitor, manage and make decisions based on the data from our smart devices.”

mplementing an IoT ecosystem from the ground up can definitely sound daunting, especially for smaller businesses. This was an opportunity for Ignite to start simple, and use experience as a platform to scale up to gain insights to other aspects of the business. “There are myriad other measures businesses can integrate into a IoT-based platform beyond that, such as connecting smart hand sanitizing stations throughout a facility, leveraging optical cameras for social distance monitoring and face-mask detection, or contact tracing tools in case you do need to react to a confirmed case,” says Stan Lequin, senior vice president of digital innovation at Insight Enterprises.

Insight’s IoT-based connected platform technology serves as the connective tissue that brings all of a business’ smart devices together. “By leveraging IoT technology, businesses like Ignite are integrating intelligent technology like thermal cameras, food-temperature sensors and machine-learning applications to unify and create actionable data that gives owners or managers an instant understanding of how their business is doing,” says Lequin. “Today, an IoT platform is an essential step in understanding your business – you can connect as many smart devices as you need, but without a platform to analyze the data, none of the information means as much or can be used to influence critical decision making leading to real business outcomes.”

About the Author

Peter Fretty | Technology Editor

As a highly experienced journalist, Peter Fretty regularly covers advances in manufacturing, information technology, and software. He has written thousands of feature articles, cover stories, and white papers for an assortment of trade journals, business publications, and consumer magazines.

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