KEGLINK FEATURE SPOTLIGHT: Temperature
The metrics our KegLink sensors monitor are not randomly chosen. Each is individually important to the storage and delivery of great beer, and combined they provide a multitude of measures that are useful to brewers, sellers and drinkers alike. Temperature is arguably the most important metric when it comes to beer, so how it is measured is especially critical.
Choosing a Temperature Sensor
In choosing which temperature sensor to include in KegLink we took into consideration several factors.
- Accuracy. Accuracy is only important in relation to the purpose. As an example, when tracking medical samples a 0.1 degree celsius (0.18°F) can be the difference between detecting a disease or not. Thankfully beer is not as life and death, but we still measure it down to a fraction of a degree.
- Power Consumption. Our goal is to reduce the amount of power required to run KegLink as close to zero as possible. This is so that the battery life is as long as possible and the devices don’t need to be maintained as often. While the average digital watch uses around 5uA (micro amps) of current, our chosen temperature sensors on KegLink consume less than 1uA.
- Availability. Making sure we can get the temperature sensors is obviously important. Given the technical nature of the sensors, we have to make sure they’re not an “end-of-life” product, about to be redundant or unavailable in the current global electronics component shortages.
- Compatibility. Anyone who’s ever tried to use a mac and a pc or android in the same day knows how tricky it can be to switch between them. KegLink’s temperature sensor is one of nearly 100 components on the circuit board so the ability for those components to work together is critical to KegLink’s reliability.
- Price. We’re not bargain hunters, but we do want KegLink to make financial sense for brewers monitoring their entire keg fleet. In that way, cheaper is better, but we won’t be compromising reliability, or any of the above factors.
One thing most people assume when they first hear about beer monitoring is that the beer within the keg has a thermometer or other measuring device inside the keg. Surprise! KegLink doesn’t do that. Aside from a whole heap of food production safety headaches, we found this would be an inferior solution anyway. Beer has high specific heat capacity, meaning temperature changes inside a full keg typically happen quite slowly. By measuring the temperature external to the keg, our temperature reading acts as a lead indicator, giving deeper insights into the supply chain, and a window of time in which to intervene before the beer itself is affected and written off as waste.
Another thing we noticed was the rhythmic fluctuations in cool room temperatures. What can we say, we’ve spent a lot of time in cool rooms at venues and breweries! While outdoor kegs typically see day and night temperature swings over a 24 hour period, kegs inside cool rooms typically see a much faster cycling of temperature as the refrigeration unit starts and stops. This is a tell-tale sign that the keg has made it into a cool room which our software automatically detects, along with the obvious shifts in temperature when the keg enters and leaves a cool room.
Examples of Custom Alerts
As well as the built in Cool Room alerts, it is easy to set up your own alerts to monitor things that are important to your brewery.
- Fill Status + Extreme Temperature Changes. As the temperature readings are taken from the keg rather than the beer, they actually run a little ahead of changes to the beer itself. This means you can set up an alert to monitor if your filled kegs are about to freeze. Time to ring the venue and tell them to bring the kegs inside before they are potentially destroyed.
- Temperature + Geo Location. An alert can be set to monitor where you kegs are, and what temperature they are. This gives you visibility on the transportation of your kegs. Whether they’re being kept nice and chilled in a refrigerated truck, been left sitting outside a venue, or maybe they’ve spilled onto the roadside.
- Temperature Change + Coupler Detection + Orientation. One of the more obscure alerts we’ve seen is the combination of a spike in temperature, a coupled keg, and an upside down orientation. Can you guess what’s going on there? Typically this indicated that the keg is being cleaned.
Temperature is the main variable in the Arrhenius Equation, (a formula that can be used for calculating beer freshness based on the chemical reactions occurring in packaged beer). Monitoring temperature is crucial to ensuring brewery to bar freshness.