Godrej Consumer Products Limited (GPCL) is one of India’s largest FMCG companies, with 24 brands under its ambit. It also has its manufacturing operations spread across 15 countries, including Asia, Africa and Latin America.
It has continued to be a leader in the FMCG space by using new-age technologies like AI, Machine learning and Internet of Things(IoT), right at the factory level.
Another Indian conglomerate, Piramal Group, has initiated Real Time Manufacturing Insights for 60 production lines across 4 plants. This has helped it in achieving real-time visibility into manufacturing operations and analysing production line losses at various stages.
Smart manufacturing is a whole family of technologies that brings efficiency and new opportunities to manufacturing – and, in turn, the entire supply chain.
As per Gartner, the Internet of Things (IoT) is forecast to reach 26 billion installed units by 2020, up from 0.9 billion just five years ago, and will impact the information available to supply chain leaders and how the supply chain operates, depending on industry.
A global consumer goods brand that relies heavily on contract manufacturers spread throughout East Asia, was looking to understand the drivers of differences in cost, efficiency, and performance across different contract suppliers producing the same product.(sightmachine.com)
By integrating and streaming near real-time machines and quality data from multiple suppliers, the consumer goods firm learned of significant differences in operating procedures (e.g. the time to load/unload a machine or raw materials usage) and utilization (e.g. machine idle time). This previously unavailable visibility into machine and part level data across the supply chain delivered unexpected and eye opening insights. They are now able to track production parameters/settings for finished products and raw materials at all levels in the supply chain.
India’s JK Tyres’s various manufacturing units use IoT to identify bottlenecks in a particular manufacturing line. Applying AI on data from IoT helps with deeper insights, as to which manufacturing units are performing better or which shift of employees is under-performing.
According to researchers, manufacturers in India have reported a 30% increase in productivity after adopting IoT technologies and other shop floor automation solutions into their production processes.
One of the biggest problems plaguing the manufacturing industry today is that companies can discard up to 21% of their raw materials. According to research, 3D printing can help reduce material losses to just 10%.
3D printing or additive manufacturing drives efficiencies – it shortens design cycles, lowers overall production costs, shortens the distance between production and delivery.
Perhaps its most exciting implications for manufacturers and the supply chain as a whole is the ability to move the means of production closer to the customer. Customers will soon place orders for 3D-printed products from hobbyist shops, automotive parts stores, department stores, electronics boutiques and even clothing stores, customization options included.
The impact to the global supply chain could be huge. Manufacturers should begin planning for a future with far less need to transport finished and partly assembled merchandise all over the world.
Blockchain and supply chain transparency
Manufacturers can enjoy the benefits of blockchain, if applied in the right manner. Blockchain can be deployed by every partner along a supply chain to contribute to a decentralised ledger that records operational information permanently, and in a transparent manner.
The outcome is a well-structured record of manufacturing operations (origin, manufacturer, date of completion and financial details) that minimises bureaucracy that is required for a supply chain to run smoothly.
Every batch of products has a unique cryptographic identifier, making it easier for companies to trace defects in a seamless manner, and handle recalls more efficiently. What’s more, it also helps protect the company’s reputation and makes routine compliance activities much simpler.
While a connected smart factory ecosystem is essential to transform the supply chain, there are certain pressing concerns. According to research conducted in 2019 by Gemalto, 48% of the surveyed companies are still not equipped to detect IoT-based security breaches under their own roof.
It is worrying that so many companies have access to technologies like IoT (even if it’s limited), but lack in-house talent and tools to detect security breaches. Today, there is a great demand for talent in data science, analytics, cybersecurity, and other disciplines that involve keeping trade secrets.
In the last few years, several high-profile cases have cropped up. For instance, even internet-connected heating and cooling equipment are under threat from cybercriminals. While we are making leaps in making smart equipment, yet all this interconnected infrastructure needs to be protected.
Some cybersecurity experts believe 60% of small and mid-sized manufacturers have suffered downtime or the loss of mission-critical data due to cyberattacks.
It illuminates issues on equipment performance and vendor deadline management, while also providing ways to keep companies and their good names protected when an audit comes around or a problem needs to be traced back to its source.