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Innovation Spotlight: Bourbon on a Budget Using IoT Connected Devices

Jun 6, 2019 1:55:17 PM

IoT for production-ready applications in high-risk manufacturing: How Smashing Boxes engineer Grady Knight tapped into the power of IoT connected devices to innovate the complex craft of distilling high-quality spirits.


When was the last time you and your friends enjoyed a craft beer at a local microbrewery or brewpub?

Last night? Maybe last weekend?

With 50+ craft breweries in the Triangle region alone, it makes sense that you or someone you know enjoys the craft beer experience. In fact, North Carolina has the largest number of craft breweries in the American South.

Now, compare that to the last time you enjoyed a hand-crafted spirit from a local distillery? Maybe not so much, if ever?

According to the Brewer’s Association, the number of operating craft breweries in the U.S. is at 6,266, while the craft spirits data project's (CSDP) mid-2017 estimate of the number of craft spirits producers was just shy of 1,600—up from a mere 280 in 2011. Even though the hand-crafted cocktail movement experienced significant growth in the past few years, starting a distillery from scratch faces much higher barriers-to-entry than its brewery counterpart. Apart from the barriers of cost and numerous regulations, there’s also the complexity of the production process itself. For many, these barriers are non-starters. For a select few, these barriers present an opportunity to innovate.

Enter Pinetop Distillery, Raleigh’s first true grain-to-glass distillery.

Cofounded by Smashing Boxes engineer and entrepreneur Grady Knight, the organization embraced the power of the Internet of Things (IoT) to optimize the complex craft of distilling high-quality spirits.

"IoT allowed us to rapidly build prototypes while we were developing our production facility. Additionally, it has allowed us to select manufacturing schemes which significantly lower equipment costs and allow for an automated production environment."
-Grady Knight, Pinetop Distillery

Using IoT connected devices, sensors, and a web app, Grady found a way to reduce costs while improving the flavor, quality, and consistency of Pinetop spirits. At last week's NC RIoT Lunch and Learn, Grady shared his story to a jam-packed full room of thirsty engineers and entrepreneurs.


Dive deeper to learn more about how Grady and his team leveraged IoT to bring their bourbon dreams to life in his presentation: Bourbon on a Budget with IoT.



Check out other innovative applications of IoT connected devices:


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Photo credit: Caitlin Hooks

Topics: internet of things, IoT, connected devices

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