Manufacturing tech company OFS signs deal with Ninkasi Brewing

James Magee, Chief Executive Officer at OFS

Australian manufacturing performance software company, OFS, has signed a deal with Oregon-based craft brewer Ninkasi Brewing Company, removing manual processes for its manufacturing team and helping it to increase on-time-in-full (OTIF) orders from 40% to 94% as the brewery expands its production portfolio. Founded in 2005 and famous for its Total Domination IPA, Ninkasi makes approximately 150,000 barrels of beer every year.

The craft brewery has also recently expanded its operations to contract out its production lines to budding brewers and producers of canned cocktails, hard seltzers and other popular drink lines. The new production model led Ninkasi to rethink its approach to data capture and efficiency improvement initiatives and seek a provider that could help it reduce downtime, speed up product changeovers, and improve its production scheduling while reducing waste.

What does OFS bring to Ninkasi’s portfolio?

Daniel Sharp, Director of Brewing Process Dev’t, Ninkasi.“When we were small, it was easier to keep up with production demand, but we reached a point of growth and diversity where we needed a new approach. We were intrigued by the OEE (overall equipment effectiveness) standard, & evaluated providers that could help us understand how we measured up to them.”

Ninkasi deployed OFS’ line performance software system, OFS-X, on its packaging line to provide accurate, real-time OEE data & detailed insights into length of production & changeover, how well lines were performing, & how different shifts & crews perform. This gave the brewery the data it needed to work out best practices and vastly improve its operations.

“Our floor team compared the systems available to us & OFS won. It’s simple to use, makes life easy, & supported our drive to grow & diversify while improving our uptime,” added Sharp.

“Prior to OFS, we often had three or four changes to our production schedule a day, an issue OFS identified was usually caused by a packaging delay. It was wreaking havoc on our entire team and our ability to do what we love – make great beer. We’re down to about five schedule changes per week. We’re using data to assign uptime and run rates for different packages on a crew-by-crew basis, leading to new best practices being discovered,” Daniel Sharp added.

The efficiencies Ninkasi has achieved have led it to increase its on-time-in-full (OTIF) orders from 40% to 94%, leading to better outcomes for customers and other brewers using its lines.

“Beer has a great seasonality to it too. The data is easy to pull and keeps us ahead of the game when it comes to ramping up or ramping down. We’re prepared for the future,” he added.

How is data playing a greater role in drinks production?

Following the success of the OFS-X solution, Ninkasi is now considering OFS to help remove paper forms & digitise manual processes. The craft brewery is also aiming to use data to reduce the level of wasted aluminium as part of its sustainability initiatives. Sharp believes this tech will be a no-brainer for breweries once they reach a certain production threshold.

“When brewers get to the stage of needing a rotary filler, you often see production go from 40-to-50 cans or bottles per minute, to closer to 250. If you miss even a minute, that’s a lot of beer you haven’t made. Data and the tech OFS provides will be increasingly important to helping brewers get to that stage & make beer as efficiently & sustainably as possible.”

OFS CEO James Magee says “Ninkasi is a brewery looking out for its people on the manufacturing floor and other breweries trying to make it. The craft beer industry, particularly in brewing strongholds like Oregon, is incredibly community driven. Ninkasi is sharing its expertise, experience and data-driven production techniques with other craft brewers, helping the sector to diversify and make more beverages in less time, all the while reducing waste.”

“We’re incredibly proud to be a partner to Ninkasi’s digital transformation, and particularly for helping them better utilise their team to create better, smoother days on the production line.”