Use Case


Intelligent Automation of Whisky Blending Process

The incidence of non-productive cask movements has plummeted from a high of around 50% to a negligible level of around 4%

Background

Diageo is the largest and most profitable spirits company in the world. Diageo produces some 60 blended whisky brands. Meeting the requirements of tightly guarded recipes for blends such as these involves the combination of a variety of factors; recipes, site constraints, cask profile, age etc. ‘We want to maximise our operational efficiency without compromising the quality’. However, Diageo’s Blackgrange warehouse site alone houses around 3 million casks, indicating the scale of the challenge. In practice, 50% of the casks that were being moved were not required and this wasted effort was the cause of some friction between the warehouses and staff working at Distillers House in Edinburgh.

Solution

XpertRule developed a system using genetic algorithms to optimise the selection of casks to meet the strict requirements of the blending process. Information held on site constraints and the blending program is given to the XpertRule system, which works out the best combinations of stocks to produce the blends, whilst considering constraints such as warehouse capacity, work in progress, cask positions or even weather conditions.

The Benefits

Productivity

The incidence of non-productive cask movements has plummeted from a high of around 50% to a negligible level of around 4% and cask handling rates have almost doubled

Efficiency

From 5 full-time staff to a few keystrokes and three hours of one person’s time

Employee Satisfaction

Not only does the lack of wasted effort allow warehouse staff to get on with their work, but it enables them to plan ahead and organize long-term maintenance programs. It encourages a mind-set that is strategic, rather than reactive, and empowers managers to manage their own sites

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