Germany or Zambia - which nation has the best beer?
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Zambia’s Chikubu National Breweries’ new beer plant in Lusaka received a visit from the German Federal Food and Agriculture Minister Christian Schmidt, as part of a State trade tour of the country. This visit therefore prompts the question: is Zambian beer as good as German beer?
National Breweries, alongside sister companies Zambian Breweries and Heinrich’s Beverages, is part of the UK’s SABMiller Group, a multinational with over 200 beer brands and roughly 70,000 employees across more than 75 countries. Since its inception in 1968, Zambian breweries is responsible for global brands such as Coca-Cola, Carling Black Label, and Sprite.
Schmidt and a number of other Government officers inspected the plant’s facilities in addition to its dedicated packaging lines and brewing laboratories; much of the equipment in the new facility was made in Germany, and therefore a source of great pride for the entourage.
The company sources its maize from local small-scale farmers, so Schmidt and his team were therefore pleased to see that German-funding and support was benefitting the wider community.
The new factory has could potentially increase beer capacity by up to 150 percent, from 1 million hectolitres of Chibuku per year to 2.5 million hectolitres; in the meantime it will provide an increase in capacity to 1.5 million hectolitres. 200 onsite employees produce cartons, PET bottles, and returnable plastic bottles.
Technical Manager Stan Kasoka said, “The new plant, which is operational but still under construction, is more energy efficient and enables higher quality and efficient operations while providing better facilities for staff and a more conducive work environment.”
Between 2013 and 2014, Zambian Breweries recorded a loss of almost 30 percent in after tax profits, so it is hoped that the rolling out of this new facility should help to reverse the company’s fortunes. Whilst it remains inconclusive as to which nationality has the greatest beer, it is certainly clear that more extensive tasting is required!
SAS: Improving the British Army’s decision making with data
SAS’ long-standing relationship with the British Army is built on mutual respect and grounded by a reciprocal understanding of each others’ capabilities, strengths, and weaknesses. Roderick Crawford, VP and Country GM for SAS UKI, states that the company’s thorough grasp of the defence sector makes it an ideal partner for the Army as it undergoes its own digital transformation.
“Major General Jon Cole told us that he wanted to enable better, faster decision-making in order to improve operational efficiency,” he explains. Therefore, SAS’ task was to help the British Army realise the “significant potential” of data through the use of artificial intelligence (AI) to automate tasks and conduct complex analysis.
In 2020, the Army invested in the SAS ‘Viya platform’ as an overture to embarking on its new digital roadmap. The goal was to deliver a new way of working that enabled agility, flexibility, faster deployment, and reduced risk and cost: “SAS put a commercial framework in place to free the Army of limits in terms of their access to our tech capabilities.”
Doing so was important not just in terms of facilitating faster innovation but also, in Crawford’s words, to “connect the unconnected.” This means structuring data in a simultaneously secure and accessible manner for all skill levels, from analysts to data engineers and military commanders. The result is that analytics and decision-making that drives innovation and increases collaboration.
Crawford also highlights the importance of the SAS platform’s open nature, “General Cole was very clear that the Army wanted a way to work with other data and analytics tools such as Python. We allow them to do that, but with improved governance and faster delivery capabilities.”
SAS realises that collaboration is at the heart of a strong partnership and has been closely developing a long-term roadmap with the Army. “Although we're separate organisations, we come together to work effectively as one,” says Crawford. “Companies usually find it very easy to partner with SAS because we're a very open, honest, and people-based business by nature.”
With digital technology itself changing with great regularity, it’s safe to imagine that SAS’ own relationship with the Army will become even closer and more diverse. As SAS assists it in enhancing its operational readiness and providing its commanders with a secure view of key data points, Crawford is certain that the company will have a continually valuable role to play.
“As warfare moves into what we might call ‘the grey-zone’, the need to understand, decide, and act on complex information streams and diverse sources has never been more important. AI, computer vision and natural language processing are technologies that we hope to exploit over the next three to five years in conjunction with the Army.”
Fundamentally, data analytics is a tool for gaining valuable insights and expediting the delivery of outcomes. The goal of the two parties’ partnership, concludes Crawford, will be to reach the point where both access to data and decision-making can be performed qualitatively and in real-time.
“SAS is absolutely delighted to have this relationship with the British Army, and across the MOD. It’s a great privilege to be part of the armed forces covenant.”