Tagged beer kegs

Sokymat is supplying RFID tags to TrenStar Inc. to track beer kegs for clients in the United Kingdom including Coors.

The percentage of kegs owned and managed by TrenStar in the U.K. is now close to 70 percent, the company states. Sokymat supplied an initial order of 1겨ꯠ TrenStar-branded tags with delivery starting in December 2004, RFID Antenna has learned.

TrenStar’s RFID-enabled container management system, TrenStarCM, tracks the location of each beer keg and collects information including usage data. This enables better control, visibility and asset utilization as well as securing the distribution channel and making it transparent to the customer.

For draft beer to reach retail outlets, a sophisticated logistics network must run from the breweries through the distributors and wholesalers all the way to the point of consumption. In countries where draught beer consumption is the highest, tracking the containers that are delivered to pubs, bars, restaurants, etc., involves a major effort.

Only through an efficient keg management system can a brewery ensure the timely and effective delivery of its product while remaining cost-competitive.

“We were presented with the challenge by our partner to develop a new product to be delivered in a very short time,” says Thomas Hitzer, Sokymat vice president sales & marketing. “We are really pleased with the result and see TrenStar as a key partner for the integration of RFID in the specific vertical market of beer kegs identification.”

“Sokymat offers a quality product for a reasonable price, along with exceptional technical support,” says Stuart Facey, TrenStar senior vice president and general manager of Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Special transponder

Sokymat developed a special ferrite-core-based transponder for TrenStar’s beer keg tracking application using Royal Philips Electronics’ Hitag S 2k-bit series IC chips. The new read/write tag features an advanced anti-collision algorithm, and operates effectively even in metallic environments, according to Sokymat. Moreover, Sokymat and TrenStar developed a protective housing that secures the electronic component from the massive mechanical stress to which it is subjected throughout the keg’s lifecycle, in particular during washing and filling operations.

It is expected that the tag can remain in place for the entire lifetime of a keg for up to 10 years. Sources inform RFID Antenna that the tags are either glued or welded in place using a metal ring; the blue object seen atop the kegs in the photos is the protective housing containing the RFID tag.

Asked about the possibility for tagged kegs in the United States, Sokymat’s Philippe Held responds “Probably yes. Traceability makes sense, especially with the business model of pooling kegs (renting kegs to the brewery).”

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