Barilliant - new system for an old industry
By Mike Hanlon
February 27, 2008
February 27, 2008 Alcohol is one of the world’s most traded commodities. Central to the liquor industry are the millions of liquor serveries which serves millions of liter of alcohol each day, a glass at a time. The biggest problem of this massive service industry is shrinkage – around 10-15% of tap beer goes straight down the drain in most pubs. New bar management system Barilliant monitors and minimizes wastage by accounting for every milliliter of alcohol using sensors, wireless technologies, and RFID staff identification, right down to how effectively every barman pours a beer. The system can be expected to save 5 to 10 percent of total throughput – very big bikkies.
Alcohol is an integral part of our way of life across most of the planet – drunk regularly by two billion humans, it is one of the world’s most traded commodities. Central to the liquor industry are the millions of liquor serveries which throughput billions of liters of alcohol, a glass at a time. One of the biggest problems of the liquor industry is shrinkage – around 10-15% of tap beer goes straight down the drain in most pubs. New bar management system Barilliant aims to monitor and minimize wastage by accounting for every milliliter using sensors, wireless technologies, and RFID staff identification, right down to how effectively every barman pours a beer. The system can be expected to save 5 to 10 percent of total throughput.
Given that there are some big beer barns out there pushing a million dollars a week through the tills, it’s not out of the question that the implementation of Barilliant might add $50,000 to the bottom line every week.
Running a pub, beerhaus or bar is now a science – most of the variables can be tracked, yields calculated, and most systems will tell you that you’re losing between 10% and 15% of beer volume down the drain.
Several systems are already on the market which include mechanisms to control shrinkage but none are as comprehensive and as exacting as Barilliant.
Using temperature and flow sensors, the system accounts for every fluid ounce and who poured the drink - when the drinks are rung up on the till, the system matches up the pouring of the system with the drinks and the RFID bracelet of the bar staff. The system has been on trial at four large hotels over the last twelve months and results have been fascinating.
In the first weeks of the trial, the figures began to show that some bar personal were being very sloppy with their pouring and were consistently running in the 15% plus wastage levels while some of the more proficient pourers were approaching zero - a perfect 400 ml beer is probably 390 ml of beer and 10 ml of froth, so with almost no wastage, it’s possible to have zero wastage.
Within a few weeks, everyone’s figures had dropped to under 5% wastage – just being made aware of the figures, staff behaviours improved remarkably and improved the bottom line accordingly.
Barilliant is an integrated liquor management system that provides the publican with complete venue accountability. Its unique integrated system allows for total control and accountability behind the bar, and it can be easily retro-fitted into existing venues. The installation process is non-invasive and does not restrict regular trade and there is no limit on the number of beer taps or spirit dispense points that can be controlled.
The end result is a real-time reporting and management system that can be accessed both locally and remotely over the internet. It means that owners can watch activity levels and match staffing levels, that drinks for the customer, particularly in the case of beer, are consistent from glass to glass.
The Barilliant package comprises Barilliant Beer Control, Barilliant Spirit Control and Pulse TV.
Bartenders swipe a Radio Frequency Identification tag, in the form of a wristband, each time they order a drink on a touch-screen device. Barilliant controls, monitors and records the flow of liquid, as well as which staff member has requested and dispensed the drink. Nothing can be dispensed unless it is first declared. Once a drink is dispensed, sales information is automatically carried to the point-of-sale terminal, ensuring that payment must be received against the drinks that have been poured. In this way, theft, over-pouring and other forms of wastage are significantly reduced.
Barilliant Beer Control: in addition to controlling and monitoring every milliliter of beer dispensed, allows the publican to carefully monitor beer lines, including gas pressure, cellar temperature and font temperature. By monitoring the residual volume of beer in all kegs, alerts are generated to warn management that a particular keg is running low before it runs out.
Barilliant Spirit Control: in addition to controlling and monitoring every milliliter of spirits dispensed, tracks spirit bottle inventory and displays residual volumes of bottles connected to the system. The touch-screen device displays mixed-drink and cocktail recipes to aid bartenders. Incorporating Barilliant Beer Control and Barilliant Spirit Control, the system controls and monitors the flow of all beer and spirits served in a venue, with no limit to the number of beer and spirit dispense points can be controlled. While other products exist that measure and dispense liquor, Barilliant has the unique ability to control whether or not a drink can be dispensed.
Using Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags, bartenders swipe and declare a drink on a touch-screen before it can be dispensed. Barilliant controls, monitors and records the flow of liquid, as well as which bartender ordered and dispensed the drink.
Nothing can be dispensed unless it is first declared, and once dispensed sales information is immediately relayed to the resident point-of-sale system. This completes the all-important link between liquor dispensed, inventory control and point-of-sale revenue.
Publicans now have the ability to analyse nearly every aspect of their operations in minute detail. By monitoring the flow of every drop of liquor poured in a venue, Barilliant allows publicans to analyze venue trading patterns by time, brand, product, station, tap and bartender – in real time.
In addition to monitoring inventory usage, the technology also identifies beer quality issues by monitoring beer temperature and gas pressure all the way from the keg to the tap. Until now, information such as productivity and pour skills of individual bartenders has not been available. Publicans can now use Barilliant to investigate bartender productivity and efficiency – over pouring need no longer go unnoticed!
Barilliant was first launched in Sydney’s Boundary Hotel in 2007, and has since been installed in a number of popular venues throughout New South Wales and South Australia.
Queens Arms Hotel managing director Ben Schwartz says installing Barilliant identified quality issues with the pub’s beer lines, “and after an hour of insulation work, the beer quality problems had been significantly reduced. We also found out which individual staff members can and can’t pour a good beer, significantly reducing wastage!”
PulseTV: The cherry-on-top of this quite unique system is PulseTV – a new form of soundless video-based medium designed for display where patrons queue for drinks. The lack of sound means the medium is focussed on being a supplementary entertainment and will not intrude on the central entertainment in the room.
It’s ingenious in our book, as the screens, which run 50% advertising content are displayed in the most valuable piece of real estate in a venue – at the point of purchase – the idea is for PulseTV to entertain patrons while they are waiting at the bar and the benefits are many – approximately three minutes of every hour is dedicated to informing patrons of promotions, upcoming entertainment or special events taking place at the venue. For example, a sports bar might use this time to inform its patrons of upcoming pay-per-view sporting events it will be showing.
Not surprisingly, there’s been lots of interest from alcohol retailers keen on reaching the customer in the last minute or three before they buy a drink. Given that the target audience is patrons in a partially intoxicated, less-inhibited state with particular vulnerability to flight-of-fancy suggestions, it’ll be interesting to see what the alcohol marketers come up with to entice different audiences to try Brand A rather than Brand B. With a system that’s fully configurable by software, it’d also be possible to run hourly specials to suit the hour-of-the-day.
Indeed, it might be possible to add a whole new profit center using the PulseTV system because it’s not so much an advertising medium when viewed from the venue’s viewpoint as a communication medium with its most important customers – using three minutes of every hour they’re in the establishment enables a venue to communicate directly with their public – a time when it can establish a reason why patrons should return (a pool/darts/tipping competition), why affinity groups should use the venue (a major sporting event to be shown live, a marquee night for a particular musical genre), a new feature of the venue … and it gives a captive audience something to look at when they are at their most uncomfortable – in very close proximity to other humans in a queue.
PulseTV screens are displayed at the front of the bar facing patrons. PulseTV features a mix of soundless visual content, advertising and internal promotional information to a captive audience – patrons milling in front of the bar.
PulseTV programming for any venue is designed to blend in with that bar’s atmosphere, and might range from high impact sports to fashion - short eye-catching clips customized to the demographic of the venue.
All-in-all, it’s a fascinating study – one of the world’s oldest and most lucrative industries being suddenly able to slash 5% or more of liquor costs is major news.
The entire system is available for licensing internationally though the company would prefer to appoint master distributors for each international territory.