When Paulo Cavalsassi joined Celli Group some two and a half years ago, he may have seemed a rather unlikely recruit for the Italian manufacturer of beverage dispensing systems, which has five manufacturing plants in Italy and the UK and made sales of over €100 million in 2018.
Previously, Cavalsassi had spent 12 years at Microsoft, and before that, a couple of tech start-ups. But his main work at Microsoft had focused on emerging technologies, and Celli Group CEO Mauro Gallavotti was determined to take the company on a digital transformation journey. To do so, he knew he’d have to bring in new expertise and thinking. According to Cavalsassi, who is now the company’s group commercial director:
When I met Mauro for the first time, I immediately saw the potential to transform Celli Group from quite a traditional equipment manufacturer to a smart provider of an end-to-end service to its customers. I quickly got fascinated with that idea.
Since then, the idea has been brought to life in the form of Intellidraft, a telemetry-driven Internet of Things (IoT) system that turns Celli-manufactured fountains, pumps and taps for pouring beer and soft drinks into smart devices that report back to the company’s B2B customers, typically large beverage companies such as Heinken and Coca-Cola. It’s based on ThingWorx, the IoT platform from Boston-based industrial software company PTC.
Pumping out data
Intellidraught enables these B2B customers to receive information on the state of equipment, the quality of the drink dispensed and general consumption habits,
based on equipment usage. But increasingly, Celli Group is extending Intellidraught’s reach beyond real-time reporting, says Cavalsassi:
\We have a platform now that enables us to analyse data from many different points of view and combine it with third-party data and build entirely new applications on top of it. For example, predictive maintenance applications are very important to our customer base, because downtime of this equipment means lost sales.
And we’ve also found we can use point-of-sale data from bars and cafes to help beverage companies work with owners to optimize product ranges and run special promotions.
All this can take some explaining to skeptical beverage companies, who generally haven’t seen much of this kind of innovation in their industry:
It certainly isn’t something that the industry was asking us to provide. It came from us, trying to push and drive something new. But when drinks companies and supply chain partners and bar owners see the data that Intellidraft provides, they quickly understand and become enthusiastic. It’s definitely made us very visible in this industry and we enjoy being recognized for bringing a whole new approach.
Providing proof points
Early on, in an exercise intended to demonstrate the value of Intellidraught to a customer, Cavalsassi and his team used the platform to perform a geographical analysis, based on a particular area of Milan.
The Celli Group team looked at all the different bars, pubs, restaurants and cafes in that area carrying that particular customer’s beer brands, and the volume of beer sold for each brand, in each outlet, by hour of day. They also integrated sources from social media - among them TripAdvisor, Facebook and Instagram, explains Cavalsassi:
We went back to the customer to say, ‘Look, this is the brand distribution, this is how much you’re selling and when you’re selling it.’ Now customers like Heineken and Carlsberg tend to lose sight of this data, because they sell through distribution partners, so they just don’t know exactly the quantities of beer sold in a particular period in a specific bar.
We proved we can give them that information, we can cluster it for them, and ultimately, for that particular customer, we came up with a plan to better guarantee supply of lighter beers to bars in Milan where ‘Happy Hour’ is a strong tradition. In three weeks, that customer saw a 15% increase in sales.
PTC ThingWorx was the logical choice for Celli Group, he says, because it already uses the software company’s CAD package Creo to design its products, as well as its product lifecycle management (PLM) package Windchill.
Since building Intellidraught, the company is also using PTC’s Vuforia augmented reality (AR) software to remote employees with installation, repairs and maintenance training for its equipment. And there’s lots more to come, says Cavalsassi:
There are many other things we can and will explore with Intellidraught. I feel that we’re only at the beginning right now. We have so many ideas in our business on where we can use digital - and I have a lot of fun telling my former colleagues from the IT sector that I’m working in the real world now.