Japan's largest brewery, Asahi, looks set to steal a march on its competition by developing a robotic beer pouring machine for high-volume bars. Connecting to the keg, the machine pours up to six perfect beers at a time, taking around 12 seconds per glass, but more importantly, doing so without specialized labor and with zero wastage.

Wastage is one of the key factors in the profitability of any hospitality outlet, and has been the focus of considerable effort over the last decade as special taps, lines, and temperature and gas regulators have pushed wastage in many high volume outlets below 5 percent. A robotic pouring machine which reduces wastage to close to zero will naturally offer a considerable boost to the bottom line.

Experienced bar staff who can "pull a good beer" in one attempt are also invaluable to a venue, as they increase throughput and reduce wastage at critical times. As anyone who has tried pulling a beer knows, it's not as easy as it looks, and it's all too easy to end up with a glass full of foam, or the tray beneath the glass full of the profits. A robotic machine will reduce the need for experienced bar staff and increase throughput at peak times.

The new Asahi machine was shown for the first time at the International Robotics Expo in Tokyo yesterday.

Gizmag spoke with Asahi's Senior Chief Researcher Junichi Kitano at the launch. Kitano said that the machine is being developed by Asahi in conjunction with Nagoya-based robotics company NST, and is expected to be available within two years.

Unlike the company's automated Tornado draft beer dispenser for bars, that has already been rolled out to more than 250 outlets across Japan, the new machine does not require specially-designed cups.

The Tornado dispenser (pictured above) fills the cups from the bottom, using a nozzle which fits into a valve in the bottom of the cup.

The Tornado dispensing system has been a huge hit for Asahi, as it is both efficient and theatrical in that the beer appears magically as the cup fills from the bottom in a whirlpool of foam.

Adding sizzle to the sausage, the seemingly magical appearance of the beer in the cup is enhanced visually with dramatic lighting. The Tornado dispenser uses technology licensed from the UK and reduces the time to pour a beer by 20 percent, making it ideal for sporting venues and high-volume outlets. It was fittingly launched two years ago during a baseball game at the Hanshin Koshien Stadium in Osaka

Kitano told Gizmag that efficiency and less reliance on experienced bar staff were not the only considerations in developing the new draft beer dispenser. "We want to create a unique experience for our customers", said Kitano, "and we're hoping this new machine will be an important factor."

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