The company decided to use Microsoft’s Azure Digital Twins IoT service to augment operations across its 160 manufacturing facilities. Through digital twins, it is boosting machine uptime using predictive maintenance while reducing packaging waste due to inconsistent product quantities. In the future, company leaders plan to use digital twin data for better visibility from throughout its supply chain, from product origin to the consumer. Teams are already working on the next set of use cases.
This company is not alone in seeing the value in digital twins. Roughly nine out of 10 executives (87%) agree digital twins are becoming essential to their organization’s ability to collaborate in strategic ecosystem partnerships.
Quality Control and Food Safety
We’re also helping a large food manufacturer ensure its food items are produced at the right temperatures, for quality and food safety. With precision temperature control, the manufacturer can extend production runs, with longer durations before having to stop production to clean machinery.
By pulling data from multiple machines within the cook-stand and centrally managing that data in the cloud via a control center, automatic alerts can notify operators when temperatures, pressures or flow rates vary. Operators can see when a machine is about to stray from specs and make adjustments, so production does not have to stop.
In the digital twin pilot, we’re seeing a 5-10% efficiency savings, with fewer changeovers and less product having to be scrapped. The company stands to save millions of dollars per facility. And this is with a minimally invasive foray into cloud and digital control centers. We’re just touching the tip of the iceberg.
Modernizing Plants Doesn’t Have to be Onerous
Finetuning existing systems with digital and cloud is a viable possibility for so many companies. While efficiency programs are not new in a plant environment, digital manufacturing capabilities powered by cloud infrastructure are the real game changer in terms of capabilities.
Not every change has to be drastic to reap significant savings and better outcomes. Using digital twins to integrate knowledge previously trapped in plant, quality and design siloes, consumer goods companies are making progress on the digital front without breaking the bank — all while creating savings they can use to fuel future digitalization and growth.
That’s the kind of pressure relief valve any consumer goods executive can welcome.
Venkatesh G. Rao (Venky) is managing director and North America consumer goods practice lead at Accenture. He is a member of the CGT/RIS Executive Council.
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