- Tell us about Athenian Brewery. What is your core business and role within the project?
Athenian Brewery S.A., part of the HEINEKEN Group, is the largest beer production and distribution company in Greece, with an active presence in the country for almost 60 years.
The company was chosen to participate in the ECOFACT program as a demonstration site, providing an excellent environment for the platform to be tested upon. Food industry may have given demo sites in the past, but for the first time the beverage industry, and more specifically a high seasonality industry like brewing, provides a great, challenging ground to test theories and practices upon.
2. Why did your organization get involved in the ECOFACT project? How does this activity fit with the normal business of your organization?
In Athenian Brewery we have a solid sustainability strategy, with reduction of our energy footprint being one of its main pillars. In this context, our company is constantly working on improving its carbon footprint and E&W (electricity and water) consumptions, all while keeping track of new & innovative solutions. ECOFACT perfectly fits the above and, moreover, the timing of the project is perfect, coinciding Athenian Brewery and HEINEKEN’s wide opening to the digital transformation and Industry 4.0, both in our day-to-day operations, as well as the E&W field.
3. How will the outputs of the ECOFACT project help production system energy performance?
The ECOFACT platform will support Athenian’s Brewery energy performance through AI technology. In an industry with lots of variables, machines working in batches, and several bottle necks, human can achieve only this far. AI can support the step forward by anticipating failures, corroborating different consumptions versus speeds of machine and provide the perfect combination for the lowest energy impact. Even the scheduling of each Stock-Keeping Unit (SKU) versus planning and personnel availability will be impacted positively, which is quite impressive given the complexity it involves.
4. What are the technical challenges your work in ECOFACT is trying to overcome?
The biggest challenge is an internal one, but not without a good reason behind: Cyber Security. It is obvious that to get access to all the above, you need to be in position to provide data to machine learning models and get feedback from them. Yet, the machine learning models best work collectively in the cloud and that requires opening a portal to the outside world and its perils for our company. This is the biggest challenge, to keep the gate open as much as needed, without compromising the integrity and safety of our own production network and infrastructure.
5. Can you tell us one interesting fact about your factory or the products it produces?
In Athenian Brewery we produce locally the following beers: Amstel, Heineken, Fischer, ALFA and other local beers, with 100% Greek barley, as well as the two cider brands MILOKLEFTIS and Strongbow at our factory in Patras, with Greek raw materials. At the same time, our portfolio includes the natural mineral water IOLI, while we import well-known beer brands, including: Sol, Mc Farland, Erdinger, Murphy’s, Duvel, Lagunitas. Since April 2021, we are also the official distributor of Bacardi products in Greece. We own 3 breweries in Athens, Thessaloniki and Patras, 2 malting plants in Thessaloniki and Patras, as well as the IOLI natural Mineral Water bottling unit in Lamia.
Since 2008 we carry out the first and largest Barley Contract Sourcing Program through which Greek barley is supplied to cover 100% of our company’s production needs. The Greek raw materials in combination with the modern breweries and the 2 privately owned malting plants, create a fully vertical Greek route for the Athenian Brewery’s products.