Personal Finance: Diary of A Private Investor: If Only Adam Had Known about EDIS ; an Electronic Business Systems Company Has Come Up with a Device That Can Remove Us from Temptation and Protect Us from Ourselves

Article excerpt

"DON'T BE a wimp, Adam. Just climb the stepladder, pick the apple, bite it, put the rest down the waste disposal and no-one will know."

We're back on temptation again, because I want to tell you about a company I've come across this week that is planning to make big bucks from stopping weak-willed folk tread the path of naughtiness.

Pause and consider what would have happened if the Garden of Eden's apple tree had been electronically bugged. When Adam picked the apple, its absence would have been recorded at Head Office and alarm bells would have rung. Of course, if he had known that he was in danger of being caught, he would probably have turned down Eve's suggestion, they would have gone back to playing cards and we would not be living happily ever after.

The consequences of temptation for the manager and staff at your local pub are not quite so drastic, but they are undoubtedly a reality, based on "who would ever find out?" For the more unscrupulous licensee, the idea of sourcing the odd barrel of ale from another wholesaler, in contravention of the arrangement with the pub's owners, carries very minimal risk if the timing is right. And for barstaff, what's the harm in serving your friends with the odd pint and not ringing it up on the till?

It's wrong, it's naughty, but nevertheless it is tempting. At least, it was until Brulines intervened.Teeside-based Brulines produces a small, but highly effective pub security device which is fitted to the pipes leading from the beer barrels to the pumps. It measures the volumes of beer as they are dispensed into the glasses.

Each pint is logged and timed, comparisons with till rolls are easy, and at the end of the day if everything doesn't tally, the search for the serpent can begin. Nicknamed EDIS, for Electronic Draught Information System, the measuring unit comprises a flow sensor, which is inserted into the beer pipe and provides information to a central processing unit in the pub. This is connected to a telephone network and can be accessed remotely from head office. EDIS also works on any other dispenser of draught liquid such as lemonade, cola and so on.

Of course EDIS information ialso provides invaluable information on the pattern of beer consumption, which feeds through to improvements in marketing and sales.

No wonder then that Brulines, which is now wholly owned by an AIM quoted company called Comprehensive Business Systems, has built its customer base from eight to 32 in less than a year, and now supplies operators which include Whitbread, Enterprise Inns, Pubmaster and Punch Taverns.

EDIS costs pounds 2,600 per installation. There are now 2,900 units around the country, only two per cent of the licensed trade, if you take into account pubs, hotels and clubs. So there's still a huge number of potential customers to aim for.

Comprehensive Business Systems have tight patents on EDIS and also plan to introduce their device in Europe, Australia and New Zealand.

In three years the company's turnover has increased from pounds 700,000 to pounds 3. …