South African Breweries Ltd. - IS³ | AVEVA Select Partner

Industry: Food & Beverage

Versatile intelligence solutions let SAB manage and optimize utilities


  • Investigate the detailed usage of utilities
  • Start cost reduction initiatives for water and electricity consumption
  • Solutions and Products
  • Wonderware Historian
  • Flow Software

Solutions and Products

  • Wonderware Historian
  • Flow Software


  • None of note. Operators readily accepted the fact that they could see the effect of their contributions to savings in utilities consumption


  • Substantial water savings
  • Cooperation of operators to meet targets
  • Easy collation of data from multiple sources
  • Ability to pinpoint the source of problems and opportunities


Gauteng, South Africa – As one of the best known brands in Southern Africa and the world, SABMiller touches the lives of millions and as such, the company’s success depends on its social responsibility towards healthy communities, growing economies and the use of scarce natural resources. Given the sheer size and scope of SAB’s operations, a small improvement in the management of these resources can make a significant and positive contribution to SAB’s sustainable development model. So the company uses Wonderware Historian and Flow Software to measure, report and optimise water and electricity usage.

About utilities management

The primary resources of water and energy, especially electricity, are getting increasingly scarce. Anyone can see the consequences of wasting resources and any business manager can see the impact of rising costs on the company’s bottom line. In the South African context, load shedding has forced everyone to look for alternate ways of sustaining production. One way is to demonstrate to Eskom and various municipalities that the company is in control of its resource usage. This shows commitment towards supporting the responsible utilisation of the country’s resources.

But simply monitoring utilities usage contributes little to its management. Electricity and water meters supply raw real-time data, much like the fuel gauge on a car – the driver knows he’s using fuel but not at what rate. By adding some intelligence, most cars today will display instantaneous and averaged fuel consumption and suddenly, the driver is back in control. He can see the effect of the accelerator immediately. He can’t ease off just to save fuel because he wouldn’t get to his destination and flooring it sometimes makes little difference
– especially if he’s in the wrong gear or going up a hill. So fuel management isn’t simply looking at a gauge moving from F to E but depends on informative feedback and the context in which the driver finds himself.

It’s much the same thing with utilities management. Manufacturing companies need to keep within budget yet they also need to keep pressing on the “accelerator” to optimise production. But utilities management isn’t as easy as driving a car. Cars don’t have hundreds of “drivers” each with their own operational priorities as is the case in manufacturing. In fact, utilities management is far more complex than many people think. There are many ways in which the same commodity can be used with each having a different impact on costs and profitability. This environment requires a solution that can source lots of data from different places and process them into meaningful information.


The industrial world of today is a world of “big data” – easy enough to generate but not so easy to use to one’s advantage. Data is only the first step on the road to actionable intelligence. The solutions that helped SAB Rosslyn brewery move from data to actionable intelligence were Wonderware’s Historian and Flow software.

“We’ve always tracked electricity and water consumption with Wonderware Historian which is installed in all our plants,” says Henko Venter, Manufacturing Systems Manager at SAB’s Rosslyn brewery. “What we’ve done with Flow software is to turn this data into information and ultimately into actionable insight for managers and operators alike.”

Figure 1 shows the overall system topology. eQMS stands for electronic Quality Management System, SAB’s in-house solution which logs deviations when a quality parameter breaches specified limits. The three main subsystems of eQMS are: Product and Quality Tracking (PaQT), Laboratory Information System (LIMS) and intranet-based web reports that can be launched remotely. Flow allows the average individual to connect to the real- time historian and other databases, aggregate data over any specified time period, perform calculations, enter manual data and correct or validate existing data with a full audit trail. One of the standard reports supplied can then be used to provide the required intelligence – all through drag-and-drop easiness. Flow also caters for frequent report changes necessary for analyses.

“If the data sources are known and defined, anyone can set up a report in minutes rather than hours. You don’t need to be an expert. If end users know what they want, they can set up their own reports without help,” says Venter.

Individual bits of data collected from a number of sources need to be collated and processed if they are to make any sense. The calculation facilities provided with Flow have proved valuable to SAB because they help transform data into valuable information on multiple levels.

“Flow enables one to react quickly when things start to get out of control.”
– Henko Venter, Manufacturing Systems Manager, SAB Rosslyn brewery.

“The ability to display the same measurement in various forms is extremely useful to the people that have to do something about it,” says Venter. “For example, water consumed can be reported as an absolute value such as hectolitres – useful to check if within limits but not much else. Displaying the same measurement as a ratio of water used to beer produced, however, is far more useful because this will highlight inefficiencies and problems that need immediate attention.”

Using Flow Software, SAB recently discovered that the magnitude of missing a water usage target on their brewing section equated to a much higher value in Rands when compared to the same missed target on their packaging lines. When measured in monetary terms as opposed to percentage values, it became an immediate opportunity to rectify the situation, thereby preventing further costs and wastage.

The same principles and thoroughness went into the management of electricity and steam usage. These energy sources have their particular impacts on costs and the environment depending on where and why they’re used. There’s always a baseline cost for electricity, for example, such as lighting and other base usages common to all production areas. But how does one know which department is using electricity or any other resource beyond limits and why? Answering these questions is seldom easy without help.


Sustainable business development is the combination of social responsibility for the company and business responsibility for its employees. As the majority of SAB employees own SAB shares, they are committed to ensuring that value is obtained in all areas of the business. By converting utilities usage into money terms, SAB Rosslyn brewery has successfully introduced a common denominator of understanding and collaboration with its staff. The results speak for themselves. It’s anticipated that, as this success spreads throughout the organisation, SAB will see an increase in the number of opportunities where Flow Software can contribute to flexible data collection, collation, analysis and reporting that suits their model for sustainable business creation.


  • Substantial savings in water consumption
  • Channeling the cooperation of operators towards a more profitable organisation
  • Easy collation of data from multiple sources
  • The ability to turn data into meaningful information through calculations
  • Flexible and dynamic reporting
  • The ability to pinpoint the real source of losses, opportunities and successes insofar as utilities are concerned