Image credit: Rogue Farms
Rogue Ales wanted to reduce waste in its beer production process. The Newport, OR, brewery uses highly perishable hops in its fresh hop or wet hop beers. Its hops are not dried in the field, but are shipped quickly for immediate use in breweries. In fact, these hops have to be dropped into a vat of beer within 12 hours of harvest, or they start to go bad.
Globally, nearly one-third of all perishable foods don't make it all the way from the farm to the table. For Rogue, that translates to a lot of wasted hops.
Enter Intel, which has become a critical partner in delivering fresh goods through more efficient supply chain tracking tools and management. The Intel® Connected Logistics Platform (Intel® CLP) monitors each shipment, helping logistics managers see exactly where the freight is and what condition it's in.
Intel's multifaceted tracking strategy empowers shippers to look at data on each shipment, immediately react to that data, and optimize around it, helping future shipments arrive on time with minimal losses. All these insights are driven by edge intelligence, powered by a quad core processor inside of each gateway, which can deliver data whether it's connected or not.
Monitoring Hop Crop Variables
Using the Intel® CLP, Rogue set out to collect temperature and humidity data on its shipments of hops, at every stage between the hop yard and the brewery. After the hop harvest process, each shipment gateway is tagged with three tags per bin – one at the top, one in the middle, and one at the bottom – to ensure comprehensive tracking from the harvest all the way to the brewing vat. Intel's sensors tracked each shipment's location via GPS and noted whether temperature or humidity rose above or below acceptable boundaries.
With the help of nearly real-time data collection from Intel® CLP during the transit process, Rogue can provide diligent care of each shipment of wet hops. After the hop harvest process, each shipment gateway is tagged with three tags per bin: one at the top, one in the middle, and one at the bottom to ensure comprehensive tracking from the harvest to the brewing vat.
A Thousand Points of Data
Rogue Ales isn't alone in using data and sensors to monitor its hop crop. Crosby Hop Farm in Woodburn, OR, developed an internal testing method that put it on the cutting edge of near infrared (NIR) technology for hops. Its testing methods utilizes the quick, chemical-free NIR spectrometer for in-process testing in its T-90 hop pellet plant, which are increasingly popular within the craft brewing industry.
“Our innovative adoption of NIR technology allows us to test every mixing tank blend of hops to establish alpha acid consistency across every lot while also serving as a real-time, gating, and highly sustainable quality control tool,” explains Staci Wallace, Quality, Impact & Innovation consultant.
With the right technology, Crosby Hop Farms was able to significantly improve its hop model. It can now provide thousands of data points from its tests with the NIR methods throughout each growing season, tracking hop quality in terms of alpha and total oils.
In addition, Wallace notes that Crosby Hop Farms uses IoT sensors in its intelligent cooling systems, implementing KE2 smart therms and data logging. “We get alarms and alerts in real time in all of our cold storage facilities if temperatures shift,” she says. “This tracking allows us to ensure to our customers that all of our hops are consistently stored and maintained at optimal temperatures.”
As a result of IoT technology and supply chain tracking, Rogue Ales and Crosby Hop farm can minimize waste and reduce costs, all the while keeping shipments of hops more consistently fresh.