HEINEKEN Taps the Cloud to Become Best-Connected Brewer

Dutch brewing company HEINEKEN is innovating digital solutions, and at scale, to meet evolving customer needs and be the best-connected brewer with the help of AWS.

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Grabbing a beer at the local watering hole seems straightforward enough: a patron walks in, orders with the bartender, who then pours a draft. Merriment ensues. If the word connection is used to describe the experience, it might apply to the social connection among friends catching up over drinks on a weekend, or colleagues winding down at a post-work happy hour. Or perhaps connection describes the physical one—the path the beer travels, from brewery to tap.

But for HEINEKEN, connection increasingly describes the company’s digital future and its ambitions to become the world’s best-connected brewer.

For more than 150 years, HEINEKEN has brought people together over its passion for making the world a little better—one day, one beer, one “cheers” at a time. Now, the Dutch brewing company is using the breadth and depth of advanced cloud technology to digitally transform both the front end (the path from brewery to consumer) and back end (the technology powering that path) of its business. HEINEKEN has significantly deepened its capabilities in ecommerce, data, and analytics while modernizing its IT infrastructure.

“We want to offer a seamless digital experience to all our consumers and customers, across all our touchpoints,” said Ronald den Elzen, Chief Digital and Technology Officer at HEINEKEN.

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That mission starts with the breweries. Since 2018, HEINEKEN has retrofitted its breweries with digital capabilities, enabling employees to connect with equipment through purpose-built applications. The applications deliver valuable insights, like expected product output or the time remaining until necessary maintenance. If brewery equipment is underperforming or could be operating more efficiently, the apps also suggest solutions with an intelligent diagnostic tool, supporting brewers and operators in their increasingly complex tasks. By the end of 2022, 60 sites around the globe will be fully connected to HEINEKEN’s Connected Brewery platform running on AWS.

But the Connected Brewery goes further. HEINEKEN is transforming its entire supply chain, automating the brewing, packaging, quality, maintenance, and utilities processes, all as part of its improvement methodology Total Productive Management (TPM).

For example, with the help of AWS machine learning (ML) technology, the mashing process has been improved by making automatic adjustments to the process parameters, such as time and temperature. After nearly half a million hectoliters brewed with ML, extract losses have been decreased by 11.2%. As more breweries connect to HEINEKEN’s digital platform, optimizing the mashing process could save the company up to $14 million.
Maintaining equipment and optimizing downtime is another step where ML assists. Heat exchanges (equipment used to quickly raise or lower the brew temperature) require routine cleaning, which in turn pauses production. But AWS’s ML technology makes intelligent predictions about when the next cleaning of a heat exchanger should take place. The technology could save HEINEKEN up to $21 million once scaled across all its breweries.
In the packaging process, ML helps optimize the speed of machines to ensure a steady stream of product continues down the line. ML models first learn the behavior of the process then later command and control the equipment to minimize stops. The models have generated a 2%-10% increase in output capacity, with a potential savings of between $14 million and $36 million for the company.
All three of these use cases—recipe optimization, predictive maintenance, and packaging speed—are steps in the supply chain where AWS’s professional services team helped HEINEKEN to unlock new efficiencies and savings. In time, these digital solutions will roll out both horizontally across HEINEKEN’s breweries and vertically, through more advanced technological use cases, accelerating HEINEKEN’s Connected Brewery program.
On AWS, HEINEKEN is leveraging the power of cloud technology, creating digital solutions quickly and at scale to meet shifting customer needs. The brewing company is making it easier than ever to connect equipment, yes, but ultimately for its customers to connect with one another through a digital transformation that will allow it to thrive for the next 150 years.
At AWS, we say “cheers” to that.

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