Call for change

In 2017, Japanese brewing conglomerate Asahi Group Holding acquired several Central and Eastern European beer brands. However, these breweries came with a manufacturing execution system (MES) that was slow and difficult to work with and wasn’t linked with another system for gathering batch information data. This created gaps in user response speed and experience.

Also, each production facility used different toolsets for inputting and tracking production, packaging and order data. Some breweries were even manually copying and pasting figures into spreadsheets. Asahi’s Central and Eastern European breweries sought a new, centralized solution so production managers would have clearer insights as well as real-time, data-driven decision-making power that could boost the breweries’ efficiency and improve their user experience.

The beer industry is subject to an infinite range of complex issues. Asahi Group Holding's Central and Eastern European breweries sought a new, centralized MES solution flexible enough to change with their business needs.

When tech meets human ingenuity

Accenture and Asahi’s Central and Eastern European breweries started with an interactive workshop to create a roadmap and simple prototype of the optimal solution. The focus was to build a faster and better user interface than the brewers’ legacy system.

To deliver on the vision, the team opted to implement SAP MII, which links brewing machinery with back-office business systems, as well as SAP PCo, which collects all brewing- and packaging-related information automatically. The new system simplified order management on the brewery shop floor, combined all the process steps on one screen, and provided order traceability in a simple, graphical report. It’s now quick and easy for facilities to brew in the correct amounts and fulfill orders accurately and efficiently.

End user adoption was key to the successful integration and launch. The team held demo sessions for each country’s production site representatives and remained in touch so they could see the progress and provide feedback.

A valuable difference

The new MES solution, which provides real-time insights into demand and production capacity to ensure accurate brewing and packaging, was implemented in 15 months. Batch information is now in a single system, so production declarations to or from multiple sites can be viewed on operators’ screens, and creating new orders now takes just two minutes instead of 20. Since all inputs are now automated in a single SAP HANA database, it’s quick and easy to access data and generate reports.

Most importantly, the new system set up the breweries to be flexible as their business needs change. The system also can be configured without the need to involve an external supplier. Moreover, additional timesaving and user-experience functionality is slated for MII, including the ability to access the system from tablets and mobile devices. Soon Asahi managers will be able to run the efficient production of an entire brewery using a smartphone, then go home and raise a mug to a job well done!

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