We were first approached by the team from Liverpool John Moores University earlier this year. They explained their background in data and efficiency in sensor solutions, including a prototype to inform mapping and tracking of mobile devices for first responders. Their research continued into the various stages of brewing and what can be checked and managed, as breweries are known to over-ferment.
The brief was to build a prototype that could be easily integrated into the brewery’s operations, whilst providing real-time data visualisation and analysis for the team. Our work investigated transforming the Optura Hub, a device initially designed for detecting biomass in a laboratory setting, into a connected and independent prototype, specifically tailored for the brewery process. Our challenge was to explore the possibility of repurposing this technology to address the needs of the industry.
For those familiar with our usual work of designing websites and web applications, this project may seem like a departure from the norm! While this is true that our usual bread and butter comes from web development, it is not unusual for us to collaborate with research facilities, such as universities. We were excited to tackle this complex system design and integrate various features and third-party platforms to create an innovative solution.
We embarked on a journey of adaptation and ruggedisation. Our first step was to replace the laptop-based system with a small and robust Arduino-based M5 computer equipped with a touchscreen interface. This alteration allowed us to create a user-friendly display for the brewers, making it easy for them to monitor and interpret the data collected by the Optura Hub.
Next came the critical phase of the system to withstand the unique demands of a brewing environment. We housed the Arduino-based computer within a waterproof case, ensuring it could endure the inevitable splashes and spills that come with the brewing process. While the system may not be entirely waterproof, it is sufficiently protected for this prototype phase.
The heart of this innovation lies in the data. The Optura Hub now not only provides on-site data visualisation for the brewers but also uploads the data to a graphing dashboard accessible online and remotely. This means brewers can monitor their brewing process from virtually anywhere, making adjustments as necessary and ultimately optimising their productivity.
What makes this project even more gratifying is the tangible aspect of it. Instead of a purely digital endeavour, we were able to produce a prototype that can be seen and touched. While electronics knowledge was essential, it was ultimately the spirit of collaboration, adaptability, and creative problem-solving that brought this project to life.