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Wireless Technology

Wireless Technology has reached the bar business!   Good or Bad?

There is no doubt wireless technologies play a large part in our daily lives, but the hospitality industry, more specifically the beverage dispensing and control aspect is a late achiever.  Like all technologies it is designed to make our lives easier, offering more features and functions, and like all new technologies there is a curve before becoming industry accepted standards.

In this segment I will expand on the concept, both good and bad, and leave you to make your call.  For some operators it is the backbone of their process, for others it is a death sentence.

Many people consider a Wireless Liquor Spout a single brand liquor gun, which is pretty much the case, but in a whole different way.  Yes, some of them can control portions and all of them can track events in great detail, but that’s where the similarity ends.

Wireless Spouts, regardless of type, are stuffed with computer stuff to track usage, actuate portion control, send/receive high speed data to a master controller, maintain a power source, be user friendly, and stay alive in a harsh environment.  Consequently, they are very complex, demanding specific diligence to be successful, by an operator who embraces technology.

There are two primary forms or wireless control.

“Passive” is defined as one tracking usage in a free pour circumstance, with usage determined by a “Tilt & Time” relationship.   The bartender controls the portion dispensed and the system determines volume by how long the bottle was tilted and what flow rate was set.

“Active” is defined as one that actively controls portions dispensed, offering the benefits of as as Liquor Gun or All Bottle system, with full accountability.  Active devices use a valving action to control portions, plus a way to trigger and recognize selections.

Which style you choose depends on your management style and goals.  Any wireless system demands specific and consistent discipline to be successful.   If you maintain them you can be successful, if you don’t you are guaranteed to fail.

Spout management is paramount.  Active or passive, each spout is attributed to a specific brand; it must remain with that brand.  If the spout is set for Jack Daniels but is on a Grey Goose bottle results will be wrong.

Cleanliness is critical.  In a passive application the flow rate can be compromised by accumulated sugar residue and reporting will be off.  In an active application this can inhibit a spouts reaction time, again resulting in errors or spout failures.

Battery life is critical.  Some systems use rechargeable batteries, others use replacement batteries.  Some offer short battery life, others longer, but when batteries go dead it brings no advantage.  Utility reports detail battery condition and the operator must ensure there is sufficient life to make it through the day.

Beyond that, you need to consider general hardware aspects.

Is the spout water resistant and to what degree? Look for places that liquid could penetrate the main housing.

How long is the battery life?  How do I know battery level?  If it uses replacement batteries, what is the cost?  What is involved in replacing them, how many little parts are involved.  How much time are you going to spend maintaining them?

Then consider software. Is it easy to navigate?  Can you get detail reporting easily?  Can you export data to other management systems?  Are there subscription or service contract fees?  Is it web based or hosted on your site?  What is the update policy?

The deciding factor is what are your expectations?  If you go into your diligence with a clear vision and examine each aspect critically, you shouldn’t be disappointed.

As always, if you have questions, give me a call.

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