O.Z. Tyler Distillery is teaming up with Louisville-based StructuRight Structural Health Monitoring Systems to use an app-based system to better monitor the structural stability of the distiller's rickhouses.
StructuRight, which began operation on Jan. 1, 2019, is a company that provides internal and external structural and health monitoring for all types of structures, allowing for real-time assessment and monitoring.
The implementation of StructuRight's patent-pending, sensor-based Smart Sensing Unit will make O.Z. Tyler the first distillery in the nation to utilize a tech-based monitoring system. The system will measure distance, angle, vibration, temperature and humidity in the rickhouses.
All data, including any change notifications, will be saved to a secure database and relayed to a cellphone.
The partnership between the two came about after the partial collapse of Warehouse H on June 17, Jacob Call, master distiller and operations manager for the distillery, said.
"We started looking around for better ways to monitor," he said. "Traditionally, employees would go and weave a plumb bob. It was really a visual inspection to monitor if posts were bent or broken; there were cracks in the foundation, drainage issue; things like that. This new system measures things like angle, distance and temperature. We will be able to set different parameters based on a significant event or big changes in the environment and receive an alert if an issue arises."
The designs of rickhouses haven't changed much in the last 50 years among many distillers, primarily because of the painstaking process of aging bourbon properly, he said.
"In other spaces, it (bourbon) will age differently," he said. "some are houses are palletized; bourbon doesn't age as well or as fast in a palletized warehouse or regular warehouse. A lot of big distilleries are still building rickhouses today like they were 50 years ago. You have better wind control and basing now, but there is not a whole lot of difference. The design hasn't changed much over the years. This will be more of a way to monitor and keep a jump on things that may have been missed in the past."
The distillery is going to start slow with the new system, starting with one rickhouse, with plans to expand if the new approach proves viable. The first installation will take place in September, in a yet to be determined location, he said.
In an industry whose very bar is set by tradition, Call hopes that other distillers will follow in O.Z. Tyler's footsteps toward adopting the new monitoring system, he said.
"As an industry, we should always be looking for a better and safer way to monitor buildings," he said. "We have a responsibility to keep them safe and secure and protect the environment, so I hope other distillers pick it up. It really advances the monitoring for us."
Jacob Mulliken, 270-228-2837, firstname.lastname@example.org