The South African Breweries Limited - IS³ | AVEVA Select Partner

SAB tracks the performance of profit improvement projects to ensure ROI



  • To track the performance of profit improvement projects and to measure their positive or negative impact on revenue


  • Deciding which parameters to track and determining the monetary value for the chosen units
  • Taking into account the effect of interactions between measured resources (e.g. the value of natural gas not being used due to an increase in the usage of biogas)


  • Faster detection and resolution of issues
  • Performance is measured in terms of a commodity real to everyone – money
  • Easier determination of what works and what doesn’t
  • Values are available daily

“Previously we were required to capture values for Profit Improvement Project metrics for 52 weeks. Now we have it for 365 days – and accurately, without any of the administrative burden.”

Henko Venter, Maintenance Manager, AB InBev

Johannesburg, South Africa

SAB uses Wonderware Historian and Flow Software to track the profitable contribution of projects and to ensure that they deliver the performance for which they were designed rather than regressing.

A lot of effort is spent in quantifying and motivating improvement projects but once they are implemented, do they really deliver what was intended? If not, further such projects will be harder to motivate but if they succeed, they will be that much easier to justify in future.


In the highly-competitive brewing business, SAB long ago embarked on a programme of continuous improvement for their benefit and that of their stakeholders. This started in 2000 with a national modernisation of their process automation systems. In 2002, SAB adopted Wonderware’s ArchestrA technology and rolled it out to their seven breweries in South Africa. In 2010, SAB implemented virtualisation technology which provided the necessary levels of flexibility, scalability and reliability. In 2014, the company replaced desktop SCADA computers with thin clients to improve security and drastically reduce maintenance cost and effort.

While all these improvements were highly significant and produced visible, tangible and logically-justifiable results, further proposed improvements based on this foundation may not be so obvious and that’s why SAB decided on an impartial measurement system that would highlight where new Profit Improvement Projects (PIP) failed or excelled expectations.

These projects focus on addressing strategic issues that need. On completion, they need to be tracked to measure the value they delivered. They also need to be measured to ensure that their performance doesn’t regress when they are no longer the focus of attention.

“We had a situation that involved tracking revenue generated by PIP projects as calculated from different data sources for a 52-week period after project completion,” says Henko Venter, Maintenance Manager, AB InBev. “Our previous system consisted of an Xcel template which was updated manually on a weekly basis. “This was admin-intensive and as each project was tracked on separate documents, determining their combined revenue contribution had to be done manually. To complicate things further, this depended on individuals who knew where to find the correct values.”

Project goals and implementation

In view of the problems they faced, SAB set themselves the following goals:

  • Ease of use – The system would have to retrieve the required data automatically but still allow for manual data entry (see later).
  • The ability to aggregate data over any time period – This included determining weekly, monthly and yearly values.
  • The capability to calculate revenue performance from a specific point in time against a baseline value.
  • The ability to mine data from a variety of sources as well as manual entry.
  • Generate graphical reports that would clearly show the revenue generated by PIPs or their regression from their target goals.

The solution that best complied with these criteria was Flow Software, which works seamlessly with Wonderware’s Historian and which was already in successful use at SAB.

The information from HMIs and PLCs is collected by Wonderware historian and channelled to Flow which also connects to other databases as well as web-based manual input forms. Flow is configured to aggregate and calculate results based on these values as required and to publish the results as web-based reports or back to the InTouch HMIs via System Platform.

“The best feature of Flow in this instance was its capability to integrate values from different sources into one platform,” says Venter. “Manual entries, database values or historian values from the PLC can all be integrated and Flow makes it easy to configure such an arrangement.”

Flow enabled the reporting system to be implemented quickly. The only time-consuming aspect of this exercise was to ensure that the calculations were correct and reported in terms everyone could understand – money. “The system was run in parallel with the manual Excel spreadsheet to check accuracy and it was quickly shown to be more accurate and informative as we could see daily rather than weekly values,” says Venter.

At SAB, the system measures biogas usage and compressor electricity consumption and reports this on a weekly, monthly or annual basis against a baseline established before the solution went into operation. “This looks straightforward but is more complicated than it seems,” says Venter. “For example, we usually measure electricity usage against volume packed giving us a ratio of kwh/hl. But this will skew the picture as those weeks where a lower packaging volume was planned while high brewing production occurred will affect the electricity ratio negatively. This gets even more complex with biogas as we have to consider the amount of natural gas we are not using due to the increase in biogas usage. This usually involves the finance department in order to determine an acceptable costing procedure.”


  • Less time spent on capturing data
  • Real-time values are available on a day-to-day basis instead of only weekly. This provides previously-unknown opportunities for improvement (e.g. the use of biogas over weekends).
  • Quicker reaction time to detect issues and rectify them – leads to cost savings
  • The same approach can also be used to see improvements on KPIs vs the previous year’s performance and to track progressive improvements rather than comparing end results.
  • Showing monetary values of performance improvements is sometimes a bigger motivator for operational staff than just the normal, unit-based performance measurements
  • Quicker detection of a decline in performance against previous results.
  • The determination that small improvements on some KPIs have a bigger impact on revenue that large improvements on others
  • Tracking revenue improvement highlights where the effort should be focused while visual reports and dashboards on their HMIs help operational staff to understand where they should concentrate their efforts.

About SAB

The South African Breweries is a subsidiary of AB InBev, the largest brewer in the world, producing and selling over a third of all the beer consumed globally with such global brands as Budweisser, Stella Artois Corona and Beck’s.

Founded in 1895, SAB is South Africa’s top brewer and leading distributor of beer. For more than 120 years, the company has been an integral thread in the social fabric of South Africa and continues to play a crucial role in the national economy.

SAB operates seven breweries and 40 depots in the country with an annual brewing capacity of 3.1 billion litres. Its portfolio of beer brands meets the needs of a wide range of consumers and includes some of the country’s most popular brands including Carling Black Label, Hansa Pilsener, Castle Lager, Castle Lite and Castle Milk Stout.

As South Africa’s leading brewer, SAB is committed to promoting responsible alcohol consumption – both inside and outside the company. As a subsidiary of AB InBev, it subscribes to the Group’s Alcohol Framework and has a comprehensive Code of Commercial Communication in place. SAB also actively seeks to encourage collaboration across the areas of education, access to information, law enforcement and parental involvement to encourage responsible alcohol behaviour.