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10th March 2014

University helps Brewery puts Beer Barrels on tap – of a smartphone

Award-winning brewer Hobsons Brewery, based in Shropshire, has collaborated with WMG at the University of Warwick to develop an innovative tracking system set to track their Beer Barrels by tapping on a smartphone. 

Working with WMG’s dedicated small business team based at the International Institute for Product and Service Innovation (IIPSI), University of Warwick, Hobsons were able to solve their specific problem of finding a simple way to track casks and their contents.

The SME team at WMG helped the company bring together the right RFID (Radio-Frequency Identification) tags for the barrels, a smartphone app, and a cloud database system to do the asset tracking. This solution allows for communication between different handheld devices and the ability for Hobsons staff to simply monitor barrels while on the road.

The next stage was to develop a robust smartphone tag capable of working on metal casks and withstanding the harsh cold, wet and physical environments. The SME team used the expertise they had in polymers to create a waterproof tag casing which was developed and manufactured using a novel low volume manufacturing process. The casing was designed in such a shape to protect the tag not just from water but from the inevitable wear and tear of a brewery’s operations.

The prototype is now in use and is being tested with 3,000 barrels in Hobsons Brewery.

Nick Davis, Managing Director of Hobsons said: “This project has been a real learning curve for Hobsons and has opened up a number of new business opportunities for us. The capabilities in IIPSI have allowed us to test and prototype a concept that we could never have implemented ourselves. “

Scott Crowther, Knowledge Transfer Specialist at WMG at the University of Warwick said:

“We are delighted that we were able to support Hobsons to take their idea right through the prototyping, manufacturing and commercialisation stages. This really shows how the IIPSI team can draw on a blend of advanced manufacturing, digital and user experience skills not normally available to a small company to solve business process issues and help them create highly competitive, customer focussed products and services.”

Notes to editors:

  • WMG was founded by Professor Lord Bhattacharyya in 1980 to reinvigorate manufacturing. From its inception WMG’s mission has been to improve the competitiveness of organisations around the world through the application of value adding innovation, new technologies and skills deployment, bringing academic rigour to industrial and organisational practice.
  • WMG is an academic department of the University of Warwick.
  • WMG has a dedicated SME Programmes Team, led by Dr Mark Swift. The team links SMEs directly with the research and emerging technologies available at the International Institute for Product and Service Innovation (IIPSI). The IIPSI programme is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund
  • WMG has a long tradition of working with small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in order to help them access new technologies and become more competitive.


For further information please contact:

Ellie Precious, Marketing and Business Engagement Manager
SME Programmes Team
WMG , University of Warwick
Tel: +44 (0) 24 7652 4721
T: 0247 657 5594 M: 07920 531 274
Twitter: @elliepreciou