Scottish distilleries could save £376,500 a year by moving to set up the latest connectivity technology, a new report has found.

Distilleries could use 5G to cut down on theft, make the production process more efficient through closer cask monitoring, and save a significant amount pf time and money by reducing manual record-keeping.

The findings were revealed by the Scottish Government-backed Scotland 5G Centre, which today launches the Jacobs report exploring the impact and opportunities 5G connectivity could bring to the Scottish whisky industry.

Technology is playing a growing role in the development of whisky production. In one example, Chivas Brothers said it would make the expertise and findings from its integration of pioneering heat recovery technology available as "open source" material for the benefit of the wider Scotch whisky industry.

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The Chivas Regal, Glenlivet and Ballantine's maker made the move after the application of its technology at its Glentauchers Distillery in Speyside resulted in a significant reduction in carbon emissions.

The new report authors calculated Scottish distilleries could benefit by £30 million collectively, and revealed £376,500 of potential benefits could be realised for a medium-large distillery on an annual basis as a result of the implementation of 5G.

The main findings of the report are based on research and primary data from a distillery in Central Scotland which produces approximately a quarter of a million litres of whisky per year.

With 146 malt and grain distilleries in Scotland producing around 401 million litres per year, the installation of 5G technology could be "significant in both modernising and futureproofing the sector, particularly for distilleries in more remote areas of the country", it said.

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The study identified four areas where 5G technology could support the industry as health and safety, cask management, site management and maintenance and security.

In the first category, it found that 5G-enabled geofencing, used to set up virtual boundaries across the site, could reduce health and safety incidents by 50% by sending real-time alerts to workers entering potentially high-risk zones.

Cask management efficiency processes could be boosted by 15% using 5G-enabled RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) systems to support real-time data collection and allow warehouse workers to monitor the location of the casks.

It said distilleries could gain £125,000 due to increased labour productivity in cask management process, reduce manual-record keeping, leading to a more accurate and reliable inventory.

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The report also stated that 5G connectivity can enable the granular mapping and tracking of equipment and assets, enabling more effective planning and sequencing of tasks to maximise working efficiency and resulting in large reduction, of 50%, in equipment and asset-related downtime.

It also found whisky distillers could cut security breaches in half by the deployment of remote and automated security measures, using 5G-enabled surveillance and monitoring.

Ian Sharp, head of delivery at the Scotland 5G Centre, said: "Given the value of Scotland’s whisky industry, not only to the economy, but also to Scotland’s strong reputational heritage, distilleries are always looking for new ways to enhance innovation and drive operational efficiencies. With challenges such as rising inflation and sustainability firmly on the agenda, it’s becoming increasingly important for distilleries to find new ways of remaining commercially competitive.

"This report indicates that investing in a combination of 5G connected technologies and private 5G networks will allow distilleries to unlock new ways of working that will not only reduce costs but boost productivity and efficiency across their business."

Rick Robinson, director of smart places at Jacobs, said: "5G technology has the potential to revolutionise Scotland’s whisky distillery industry. Advanced communications like this could significantly change the way distilleries operate and enhance the efficiency and productivity of the industry as a whole – particularly rural distilleries.

"This study illustrates that 5G capabilities are relevant in every sector, and I believe we’re only skimming the surface of what this technology can do."