Decommissioning your cellar dispense equipment

Now the government has forced pubs to close to the public it more important than ever to ensure the cellar dispense system is properly cleaned and decommissioned in the correct way. It could be a few weeks or even 6 months or more before you trade again, therefore it is imperative you are able to serve good quality beer as soon as possible upon re-opening, there will be no time for delays.

If the recommended process in not followed it may result in damage to the equipment which renders it unusable. It may them be necessary to have equipment replaced which could be costly and delay the reopening of your business. Also by following the recommended process it will save money, things such as turning off the cellar cooling and beer coolers will reduce the electricity used during closed periods.


Vianet data can help your business

Remember if you have a manager, someone who cleans the lines for you or you are a multiple operator by using the data provided by Vianet on their web site you can ensure the correct process is followed giving you the best chance of re-opening without a hitch.


Decommissioning Process

  • Disconnect all keg and cask lines.
  • Clean every line, regardless of which brand of beer line cleaner you use insure you follow the manufactures instruction regarding dosage and soak times.
  • Once all of the lines are clean empty the cleaning bottle, push up all of the cellar buoy plungers so they cannot seal.
  • Empty every line until air comes out of each tap.
  • Cask lines that are not pump assisted simply remove that tap connect from the bucket and up the hand-pull several times until water stops coming out.
  • DO NOT leave water in the lines, this can damage or taint the line.
  • Clean the keg connectors preferably with alcohol spray, once cleaned ensure they cannot touch the floor.
  • Turn of the power to the cellar cooling and any beer coolers. (Leave the cellar cooling on of you have any stock that is un-tapped and has plenty of shelf life left on it).
  • Turn off all cellar gasses and any air compressors.
  • Clean all tap nozzles and put them back on to prevent them getting lost.

Recommissioning process

48 hours before you re-open

  • Turn the cellar cooling back on (sooner if you have stock delivered).
  • Turn on the beer coolers and ensure the liquid level is correct and they work.
  • Turn on the cellar gas and any compressors.

This will allow you time to get someone out before you re-open if something is wrong. Once you are happy the beer coolers and gas system is working correctly they can be switch back off until 24 hours before you open.

24 hours before re-opening

  • Clean all beer lines following the line cleaning manufactures instruction for the brand you use.
  • Flush the lines through with plenty of fresh water.
  • Clean the keg connectors, preferably with alcohol spray.
  • Check the Kegs are still in date before reconnecting the keg couplers.
  • Remove clean and replace all nozzles.

2019’s Rugby World Cup tournament saw an average downturn in volume of -0.64% in Leased & Tenanted pubs and -0.39% in Managed houses compared to the average weekend pints poured. The lack of uplift overall was undoubtedly due to the timings of the matches which saw the majority of England games played early morning at 9am or earlier.


Looking at pubs that opened early for the games the uplift was slightly more favourable with an average uplift of 6.53% in Leased & Tenanted and 3.12% in Managed houses.  Keeping with the sites that opened early, biggest volume increase came when England played South Africa in the Final with Leased & Tenanted pubs demonstrating an uplift of 31.85% and Managed houses of 21.78%.


Overall the Rugby World Cup didn’t have a significant impact in pub trade, however, an uplift was evident from the Quarter Final stage with the Final being the biggest impact game.

Vianet has launched its 2019/20 insight report showing some significant improvements in draught beer quality this year. The report correlates data gained from 250,000 connected Vianet devices from more than 11,000 sites (pubs, bars and restaurants) in the UK serving draught beer, lager and cider.
Key findings from this year’s report are:

  • 2 in 3 pints served at the right standard
  • 2% of drinks served don’t make it through the till
  • On average 22% of cask ales were served at the wrong temperature
  • 2 out of 3 pubs are not achieving target pouring yield

There were some improvements from last year’s insight with 73% of beer served through clean lines, an improvement of 2% on last year and 7% from 2017. Target pouring yield, where an outlet maximises its draught product profit from a barrel through pouring the perfect pint, reducing wastage and ensuring quality, has also improved with 39% achieving their target pouring yield vs 29% in 2018.

Speaking about this year’s report, commercial operations director for Vianet, Craig Brocklehurst said, “With data being processed from over 250,000 connected Vianet devices, we are certainly seeing more businesses having greater control and rigour in their draught beer operations but there is still plenty that can be done. With the monitoring available from the Vianet iDraught systems evidence shows that many outlets have access to a bigger opportunity if they improve quality, training and consumer experience in their businesses by focusing on their draught throughput data and alerts that are provided.

Vianet is launching a new system in 2020 which will provide even more in-depth analysis of individual sites and products in real-time. We know that beer quality and the losses business’ face on the back of this can become a thing of the past and unlock profit opportunities for everyone”.

The report shows those businesses engaged in using the Vianet’s iDraught data see a clear benefit in draught sales in terms of quality of beer being served vs those that are not engaging; 15% more beer is served in sites that focus on the quality data.

The report data was gathered from 250,000 connected devices from 11,000 sites, tracking 570 million pints of draught beer. Data range was from 1/9/18 to 30/8/19 and input from industry users is included in the report.

The Rugby World Cup starts today and is scheduled for the next 6 weeks. From Vianet’s iDraught data we can see that rugby is one of the biggest sporting events to watch in the pub. This year’s Six Nations tournament saw an average uplift in volume of 26% in L&T pubs and 39% in managed houses compared to the average weekend pints poured. The biggest volume gains came when England, Ireland and Wales played each other. We will have to wait until at least the quarter final stages of the World Cup to see that.

Match times also aren’t ideal with some being early morning, but many are lunchtime fixtures and therefore as England, Ireland and Wales progress through the tournament the opportunity for pubs will increase. Without the luxury of all lunchtime or evening matches as with the Six Nations, pubs will need to seek out other opportunities from the longer tournament and the more teams participating.

In the first stage, England, Ireland and Wales have nine matches at weekends. Some are morning fixtures so, as with the South Korean Football World Cup in 2002, pubs can open early for breakfast and match screening. As our teams continue throughout this stage, momentum will grow, and fans will seek out the places where they can watch the matches in a group environment with a great atmosphere and pubs are best placed to offer that.

The trade may not see the benefit of volume increases as seen at standard lunchtime and evening sessions but it can gain additional volume from a weekend breakfast food and drink offer. And, as at least one of the teams will get to the finals, we can all capitalise on the feel-good factor that brings and the Vianet insight will be there to see how we really did.

With two English teams heading to the finals of the UEFA Champions League next week, pubs need to ready themselves for the highest earning sporting event in terms of draught beer say industry insight experts, Vianet.

Last year, excluding data from the World Cup, Vianet insight showed the biggest draught throughput was from the UEFA Champions League final match with 11200 barrels sold. This was closely followed by the English Premier League match between Tottenham and Manchester City and FA Cup Final between Chelsea and Manchester United. The insight has proven that watching live football in pubs is the most lucrative occasion for them and the need to get quality and yield right can really boost profit for pubs.

Speaking about the opportunity live football provides pubs, managing director for Vianet Steven Alton says, “With hotels reaching £1,000 per night in Madrid when the final is scheduled, more fans will be choosing to stay on UK soil to watch the match and many of them will be choosing the pub. For this opportunity pubs need to care for the fans so it’s not just a one off trading opportunity.

The average difference in beer volumes and profit between a pub that serves beer via clean lines and those that serve only half via clean lines equates to an extra 14,100 pints a year sold or £25,000 more profit based on £3.50 a pint. Pubs just can’t afford not to look after their beer at any time but with business opportunities like the UEFA Champions League, not doing it, is like throwing money down the drip tray”.

During the World Cup 2018, 35% of pints poured were identified as poor quality whether that is being poured through unclean lines or at the wrong temperature.

Adding, Alton says, “Pubs are an essential part of British culture as is football and there is nothing better than watching a fantastic match in a pub with a great beer. The Liverpool vs Spurs final will be probably the biggest sporting opportunity in pubs this year. We need to make sure that fans come back for more following a fantastic experience”.

Vianet has secured a long term contract for iDraught with Brewhouse & Kitchen following a successful trial with business. Brewhouse & Kitchen decided to take the next step in their strategy to ensure the beer they brewed in all their venues was consistent and served perfectly they set a target of 98% served through clean lines; an industry high. Their decision to install Vianet’s iDraught dispense platform supported their ability to achieve this and provided more insight and operational performance stats than they had first envisaged.

Brewhouse & Kitchen has 23 sites that are all a bit different from your traditional pub, brewing their own unique craft beers on site in their micro-breweries, a USP they are very proud of. It was therefore extremely important that from the brewing equipment to the dispense, quality was always paramount.

The company has pubs that stretch from Chester in the North West to Horsham in the South East. A pilot of Vianet’s iDraught bar and cellar management system took place initially at two of the company’s town centre sites. The benefits of the system soon became apparent and a decision was made to roll out the technology to all its pubs, completing the investment this summer.

Company auditor for Brewhouse & Kitchen, Matt Halls was already familiar with iDraught and wanted the system to provide some quick wins for the business alongside improved processes and ways of working that would become operational practice.

He says, “Our USP is brewing our own beer and quality is our number one priority. The iDraught system soon highlighted to us that there was greater visibility and control available to us other than just quality and we set about making the system reap more commercial rewards for the business”.

The first sites that received installations showed that the businesses were not all achieving the high standards set for Till, Yield and cleanliness targets but the picture was better than expected with a clear solution path tailored to each site now possible.

Halls added, “We saw quickly that the cause wasn’t necessarily always pilferage or free tastings but an ambivalence by our teams to the value of the product and this meant we needed them to understand that every drop had a cash value to it”.

A training programme was subsequently developed by Brewhouse & Kitchen with Vianet to ensure there was 100% engagement by the whole team (brewing and operational) with the system. Everyone then understood the reports and data supplied on iDraught and that when alerts were actioned there was better results and management from everyone in the business.

Halls confirmed, “All the team are now engaged in how the insight provides actions that improve the profitability of their individual business and the benefits that brings to them as individuals ie meeting targets, bonus, sales etc”.

Line cleaning data also allowed the pubs to be more focused providing the team with an agile regime depending on the beer being dispensed, some products only requiring 14-day clean cycle and some seven. The ability to change the cleaning cycles by brand massively reduced the pints lost during line cleaning whilst still maintaining the quality. The data also showed the gallons lost during the clean and the financial value of this to the pub which has enabled managers to plan line cleaning to reduce this level of wastage and cost. Full training was also developed and delivered following the first line cleaning data available.

Matt endorses iDraught as the one piece of kit every managed operation needs, “What we have got from iDraught is much bigger than we first thought. We wanted to ensure our USP of quality in-house brewed beer was maintained in every site but the system provides more. We paid off the investment in the trial sites within six months which shows it’s a fundamental commercial business tool. We didn’t foresee that team knowledge of the value of the product needed to be addressed or that they needed to understand that by actioning the data they could, as individuals, be better off. Nor did we believe that some regular till yield losses were from beer served out of trading hours; some surprisingly in the morning by cleaning crews. It’s highlighted issues we weren’t aware of and clarified others”.

Kris Gumbrell founder of Brewhouse & Kitchen reiterated the same, “As an operator I want to make profit and iDraught ensures that this is maximised in terms of controls and rigour in a business and it gets everyone engaged. It’s data you use to improve your business processes and training which ultimately improves profit. The investment benefit far outweighs the cost and I wouldn’t run a pub business without it now”.

Key stats from Brewhouse & Kitchen iDraught investment:

  • Investment paid off in trial sites within 6 months
  • Rolled out to all 22 sites with all new sites having installation at investment point
  • Lost beer in line cleaning a crucial focus for all teams with different regimes for different products introduced reducing value of lost beer
  • 98% of beer now being served through clean lines and this is rigorously maintained
  • Till yield improved to 100% creating more profit following the installation of Vianet’s iDraught system
  • Provides a 360-degree tool from brewing to dispense and effectiveness of staff




Yummy focuses on range to maximise profits

Vianet says the Six Nations provides the highest draught sales for a short-term sporting event in pubs and getting the range right now on bars is vital to maximise both sales and margin during this lucrative tournament.

Steven Alton, managing director of Vianet said, “We have identified in our industry wide analysis that the Six Nations tournament is one of the most important in the pub event calendar, particularly for draught beer, and it is important that pubs are prepared to maximise the trading benefits of this event”.

When Yummy Pubs founder Anthony Pender and co-owner Tim Foster decided to trial Vianet’s iDraught in one of their six pubs they had an open mind as to the outcome. With the wet sales of the business split between 22% draught and 40% prosecco, a full trial was required to see whether the software would be a useful tool for the pubs. iDraught was installed in one venue, the Somers Town in London and with the trial proving a great success to the point that the business is now looking to roll out installations to their remaining three town centre sites. The first win for them was the insight into the range on their bar.

Between 5-8pm on Thursday and Friday the Somers town can typically sell 4 brewers’ barrels of Estrella (1,152 pints) – a high margin product for Yummy but the number of taps available and the subsequent queues for the product during this time was impacting these sales.
The iDraught system enabled Yummy to identify when more taps of a particular product were needed, so they could maximise the sales of that brand.

Confirming this, Anthony Pender says, “Now we are able to be much more fluid in terms of our draught offer on the bar by trading session, having the right number of taps of the product that’s being demanded thus increasing our profitability. We are also able to understand what we need for sporting tournaments like the Six Nations in our pubs especially the Gorringe Park”.

Yield improvements were another major benefit. For the same sessions the system also identified that Yummy were losing more Estrella during these periods through overpouring. They needed to ensure the teams in place, particularly on Thursday and Friday evenings understood the impact of overpouring and, following more training they have seen yield improvements go from 96% to 102% on Estrella.

Speaking about the data monitoring system, Pender said, “The iDraught system gives insight to both the operator of the pub and its management team and we have increased our yield by 2% overall at a 900 brewers barrel site by acting on the insight. The system provided benefits which we didn’t foresee”.

Adding Alton from Vianet says, “The iDraught system is telling us that pubs are over ranging by at least 3 pumps and what that does is decrease profit. If the ranging data provided through iDraught is used effectively like the team at Yummy have done, you can gain more profit from simple changes on the bar and training; utilising the data to do this for the Six Nations is a game changer”.

One in three pints served to customers over the Christmas trading period will not be up to scratch according to the latest Vianet Draught Insight Report. Christmas is one of the most lucrative trading periods in the annual events calendar with 13,000 barrels alone of draught beer sold on the ‘Mad Friday’ before Christmas last year. Data from the insight shows 4,000 barrels of this beer were poured through unclean lines or at the wrong temperature.

Speaking about the latest insight, Steven Alton, managing director of Vianet said, “In the pub trade we have really got to get to grips with consistently serving great quality beer and understand the impact this has on individual outlets and across larger pub estates when we don’t. If we are serving one in three customers over Christmas with a poor pint, we are letting them down. Christmas is an opportunity to both retain loyal customers and grow our customer base by gaining new ones.

This lack of control in our beer quality when we get busy is having a real knock on effect especially when we have a chance to keep that customer way beyond the Christmas frenzy. The data we gather from 250,000 devices isn’t wrong and the system is there to help operators to get the most from every barrel and keeping the quality right is key to this. We have certainly seen by working with great operators using our iDraught platform the impact on the bottom line by getting the controls right”.

The insight which was gathered between October 2017 to September 2018 provided detailed data on draught products served in pubs up and down the country. After the World cup match between Sweden and England the highest earning session for British pubs was Friday 22nd December with Christmas Eve following closely behind.

Adding Alton said, ‘A customer is not just for Christmas. Christmas is a time where we can attract new customers and hold onto them well into the future. Retaining high operational standards throughout these busier periods is fundamental if we want to reap the benefits of having this captive audience”.

The Vianet Insight Report was published in November 2018 and highlights a number of key areas where standards in pubs have improved and the opportunities that are still there for pubs in terms of costs savings and sales. Copies of the report can be downloaded from

Sales statistics give the clearest indication yet of the extent to which cashless payment is penetrating the vending industry.

Retailers began to embrace the payment form in 2015/16, but the adoption of card payment in vending lagged a distance behind. However, as soon as the cashless ‘ice’ ad been broken, the pace at which Vianet technology was implemented in the sector showed a marked increase.

H2: Cashless Payment Growing Fast

In January 2017, Vianet had 1200 active devices installed:

  • 425,802 transactions
  • £383,914.69 of consumer spend
  • Average transaction value of 90p

In October 2018, Vianet has 6000 active devices installed

  • 1,160,094 transactions (+272%)
  • £1,129,272.30 9 (+300%)
  • Average transaction value of 97p

The figures show that in a mere 18 months, the number of transactions conducted through Vianet has increased by 272%. What’s more, the consumer spend has increased by 300%. In fact, across the industry as a whole, card transactions now account for 30% of all transactions (on machines that have a payment device has been installed).

‘We’re seeing cashless payment growing fast’, Matt Lane, MD, Vianet Smart Machines said. ‘The move to alternative payment to coins and notes is gathering momentum. Not only are we seeing average sales generated by machines increasing by 9%, but there are unseen benefits as well. We calculate that the removal from vending operations of cash counting, coin collecting and banking saves £56,463 per month, (£677,556 per annum) or £9.41 per machine based on a hidden cost of 5%. Although this cost will not be fully saved until operators remove cash completely, it is reflective on the transactions for cards as a saving.

‘When and if cash is completely removed, the phenomenon that we euphemistically refer to as ‘shrinkage’ will be eliminated. At the moment, the amount of cash that fails to make it from the coin mech to the bank is estimated at 3%, which works out at £5.64 per machine, per month. That’s £33,878 lost to the industry every month, or £406, 536 every year.

‘The phenomenal growth in card payments over the last 18 months is a clear indication that cash will continue to decline as the preferred method of payment in vending.’ Matt said. ‘However, it’s the next generation of solutions that will unlock the full value for operators who use the Vianet system and deploy disruptive technologies to change the way they do business. Card payment systems create a value proposition for operators that meets the needs of the consumer today. By using them, the operator protects volumes in a period where consumption is falling in Vending. However, in an economic climate where minimum wage, high fuel costs and continued cost pressures on the consumable products reduces margins, it is the data that becomes to help an operator adapt.

‘Simple opportunities to reduce manual completion of the operator stock replenishment visit can be replaced with an automated feed into the ERP providing a reduced visit time and improved accuracy of reconciliation at the machine. Basic machine alerts can notify when the machine is switched off or there is no trade can indicate that there is problem, which will reduce an operator’s sales because they are simply unaware of the issue’.

‘However, the imminent opportunity incumbent in our integrated system is the ability to pre-call the machines on site prior to arrival and to pick the stock needed to replenish without having to walk the site and note down what’s needed.’

This kind of pre-call polling of machines isn’t restricted to the kerb side, either, as Matt explained: ‘Operators are about to have the capability of pre picking orders at the warehouse ready for collection. All that’s required to make this happen is that operators ensure that the machines in a route are enabled and online’.

‘These opportunities are all possible in the immediate horizon’, Matt said, ‘but the critical step for operators is to adopt the payment system now with an IOT hub collecting data and predicting what will be required.’