Tapping into IoT for Better Beer Production and Inventory Control

A legacy company taps cutting edge technologies to improve product quality, boost production efficiency, and foster brand loyalty. Artificial intelligence and machine learning allow producers to mine data for operational insights, fine-tune processes in real time, and tailor promotions for their customers.


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Image credit: AB InBev

Anheuser-Busch InBev is transforming its business to integrate the Internet of Things into all aspects of its production line. AB InBev has 50 locations and 500 brands globally, including Budweiser, Stella Artois, and Corona. The company claims that one-third of all beer sold around the world is an AB InBev product.

With so many locations and systems, AB InBev wanted to design a technology infrastructure that could improve performance at all levels of production, and even help its suppliers and distributors. One of the first steps was to create the Beer Garage. Based in Silicon Valley, the Beer Garage focuses on building an enterprise architecture and tapping into innovative technologies that will drive business.

Beer in the Cloud

AB InBev built a global analytics platform that allows it to mine data to improve production and customer connections. The company uses Microsoft Azure for cloud operations and services, so its internal application developers could focus on the business logistics.

Using Azure has enabled AB InBev to centralize its IT functions, consolidate its 16 data centers into only seven, and eliminate duplicate research efforts. The cloud services allow AB InBev to collect and mine data, integrate systems, and equalize markets across different regions.

The company has installed sensors, digital twins, and blockchain technology throughout its production process to ensure product consistency and manufacturing efficiency. Sensors monitor the chemical and biological makeup of the products through each stage of production to enable quality control and traceability. It also provides operators with energy efficiency and maintenance information.

multiple tanks of beer and one is highlighted as optimal fermentation

Image credit: Microsoft

Using digital twin technology, AB InBev tests new processes and simulates changes on the production line. It also monitors ingredients and helps the brewers make adjustments on the fly when variations in the natural ingredients could impact the flavor or quality of the beer. Digital twins and deep reinforcement learning can predict and automatically compensate for bottlenecks in the packaging line, so workers can avoid slowdowns on the line. When problems arise, operators can use mixed reality to get remote assistance.

Brew and View

Outside of its brewing facilities, AB InBev uses cloud technology to improve farming, distribution, and operations. AB InBev launched its SmartBarley program, based on Sentera’s FieldAgent® platform, to help growers. The platform uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to collect data on dozens of field metrics, including soil and irrigation in barley fields.

Drone and satellite images help AB InBev predict the global supply and cost of barley. AB InBev shares that data with its growers to help determine the optimal planting, fertilization, and harvest schedules. The process makes farming more efficient and improves sustainability.

The cloud technology is at play even after packaged beer is loaded on trucks for distribution. Operators monitor the location of its trucks, alter delivery routes based on inventory needs, and reduce its carbon footprint. Distributors take advantage of blockchain technology to eliminate paper shipping documents and improve transparency.

On the marketing side, the analytics platform allows AB InBev to send personalized text and email communication to customers to tailor promotions and breed customer loyalty. Artificial intelligence enables the company to analyze price and loyalty data, but it can drive marketing efforts, too. AI can find correlations between beverage-and-food purchases or segment brand popularity by purchase venue or region, which can drive promotions in those locations.

Cutting edge technologies are leading one of the oldest beverage makers into the future. With artificial intelligence, AB InBev can glean insights about operations and sales in unprecedented ways.


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