Norway brewery taps IBM to reduce bottlenecks in logistics operations

Ringnes, the Norwegian brewery and a subsidiary of the Carlsberg Group, is using IBM sensor technology to gain greater visibility into its logistics operations, and in the process, to better serve Norwegian retailers and consumers.

Across Norway, retailers and restaurants rely on Ringnes to provide almost half a billion liters of beverages annually, including beer, soft drinks and bottled water.  With shipping volumes as large as these, Ringnes needs to make its deliveries as predictable as possible so retail customers can maintain the right amount of the beverages on their shelves at all times.

With 200 trucks on the road at any given time, Ringnes has never had a real-time overview of the exact location of the containers used to transport both beverages and empty bottles returned by stores. Now, Ringnes is using RFID technology that enables the company to track the arrival, departure, loading and unloading of each container at its Oslo facility.   The data on the tags is collected and processed using IBM software.  Prior to the creation of its new system, Ringnes employees tracked containers using manual logs.  The exact location of a truck could only be determined visually or by phone. Manual maintenance of such large operations can lead to errors and bottlenecks.  

Now, Ringnes is using RFID tags to track each shipping container. These smart sensors capture all data linked to the plants 40 loading gates. The IBM system is helping Ringnes to reduce costs and make more timely deliveries. Employees in the Ringnes Oslo facility are now able to access a complete view of the trucks and containers inside the shipping and receiving terminal, as well as their load status.  Ringnes can quickly whether a trailer or container is on or off site, how long it was parked at the facility, and when it was loaded, unloaded, and driven away.  In addition, the brewery can quickly spot and resolve bottlenecks in its logistics operations and address them in order to speed deliveries.

Even small changes in our logistics system can have a positive effect on our bottom line, said Jan Inge Bakkane, business process manager at Ringnes.  The system weve created with IBM will allow our logistics operations to work smarter, which makes for better customer service.

Ringnes is considering extending the system to its 4 other locations and integrate it with the companys other logistics systems. In the future, Ringnes also plans to use RFID tags on its pallets to track the movement of individual products to retailers. This will further the companys ability to help customers maintain the right amount of each product at all times.

Through this project, IBM and Ringnes are demonstrating how sensor technology can be used to infuse their supply chains with unprecedented levels of intelligence, said Morten Thorkildsen, country general manager for IBM Norway.

All of the data from the RFID tags Ringnes is using is captured and stored using IBMs WebSphere Premises Server software.  It is then made available for viewing and analysis via a Web-based dashboard based on IBMs DB2 AlphaBlox application.

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