One Blog |September 20, 2016 | Line Cleaning Software
Draught Line Cleaning Is Not Just a Service But A Responsibility
How Much Is Being Spent On Line Cleaning — One Example
I was talking with one of our long-term beer distribution customers about the amount of money they spend annually on draught line cleaning. What I learned although not entirely unexpected was still eye-opening. I found out that our customer, a suburban distributor, has close to three-hundred on premise accounts; they target cleaning these accounts’ draught lines every two weeks and they spend more than $120,000 per year on the chemicals, equipment and payroll to get the job done. As they have recently started ramping up their “Craft Program,” the number of draught lines per account has started to increase — along with the costs of line cleaning.
First Hand Plus On Hand Experience
The president of the distributor commented that he visits his customers unannounced occasionally and orders a draught beer to check up on the delivery and presentation of “his” beers to the bar’s customers. He mentioned that from time-to-time he’ll be served an off-tasting beer or one that has little bits (or chunks as he calls them) of “a nasty looking, nasty tasting chalky substance” in it. When something is off at one of his retail customers, he usually gets in touch with the sales rep for the account and reports the problem. He mentioned that the issue, more often than not, is that somehow this account had been inadvertently overlooked and skipped for one or more line cleanings.
Slips Through The Cracks?
When I asked how he or his reps knew that an account’s lines had been cleaned, he said the only “verification” was the listing of accounts to be cleaned published by his services operations manager every Monday morning. From this I was able to determine that there are, of course, “exceptions” — for example, a new account is added (sometime after the list is printed) and an “immediate” cleaning is added, so that the new customer doesn’t have the distributor’s keg pumping beer through potentially dirty draught lines. When this extra cleaning is added, sometimes this means one of the regularly scheduled account’s cleaning, “slips through the cracks,” and the cleaning doesn’t happen for perhaps two weeks or even a month later than usual.
Line Cleaning — Today’s Challenge: Keeping Track of it All
Our customer’s president put it this way, “As we keep adding new beers — and new accounts — it is harder and harder to keep track of the line cleaning schedule.” The president added, “Without a tracking system, we just assume our cleaner works a bit longer today or makes up the deficit tomorrow — but without any way to be certain, we sort of just rely on the memories of the rep, the cleaner or our distributor services manager.”
Another customer, shared a nearly tragic story of the new line cleaner who “forgot” where he was in the cleaning process and didn’t flush out one of the lines at an account, meaning that the first couple of pulls on the tap caused cleaning chemicals to be forcefully discharged from the faucet — fortunately no one got burned — literally, “burned” by the caustic chemicals that are used to flush out beer lines.
With two new breweries coming on line every day and already some 20,000 beers available to the US consumer, keeping track of the line cleaning schedule now seems the least of a distributor’s worries concerning draught line cleaning and maintenance.
In response to conversations just like those noted above and at the request of one of our largest customers, we built a line cleaning - tracking and managing app in 2015 and announced it at the NBWA conference in Las Vegas last year.
We’ve Tracked More Than a Million Line Cleanings
Now, a year later, with over a million draught line cleanings tracked and “under management” of our tracking app, we are able to summarize the common issues most beer and wine distributor’s face with respect to one of the most important services they are responsible for — Draught Line Cleaning.
In our target market — all US wholesale distributors of beer and wine are looking for at least the following features/functions in a draught line cleaning application:
- Scheduling and Assignments — The ability to schedule draught line cleaning by line cleaner, account and date
- Cleaning Guidelines — Listing the steps that need to be taken during cleaning
- General Services — GPS locator services, mileage logging, account surveying and customer verification via customer signature capture
- Maintenance Logging — Parts needed, length of service call, line and faucet replacement scheduling
- Exception Reporting — Overdue or completely missed cleanings, new account cleanings, cleanings reassigned by person or account
- Supplier Compliance — Verification of regular cleaning schedules
- Reporting — Customized and ad hoc
Something That Costs This Much Has to be Tracked
In case you don’t know it, large beverage alcohol distributors will spend millions annually on in-house or outsourced draught line cleaning; and, as noted above, even small and mid-sized distributors have told us their annual costs are routinely a six-figure number.
Craft brewers are even more fanatical about line cleaning than the majors — if that’s possible. Managing the growing draught line cleaning requirements has reached the point where it is has become almost impossible to keep up with the scheduling, line cleaning performance and reporting without a system to keep track of it all.