Enterprises in the consumer-packaged goods (CPG) space are looking to digitise manufacturing operations to usher in the next era of connectivity. Further, the prospect of moving towards connected factories is being explored, to digitise operations, and benefit from automation, and increase uptime and efficiencies. Experts from leading CPG enterprises share their views on the level of digital maturity in the segment, current digital initiatives, deployment challenges and future focus areas…

What is the level of digital maturity among CPG enterprises?

When it comes to manufacturing setups, as far as my understanding goes, there is a long way to go for the CPG industry. Wh­i­le there is some investment happening, a lot is yet to be achieved in terms of conn­ecting different plants and machinery, and taking advantage of 5G technology. We look at ourselves primarily as a marketing and sales organisation, and focus on optimising the supply chain.

What are the current digital initiatives or te­chnologies that you are adopting in the manufacturing and supply chain space?

On the frontend of the business, typically, our thought process is focused on not ad­opting a digital end-to-end solution but adopting a solution that is best suited to a particular problem. Then, we integrate it with everything. We also do not shy away from building our own systems wherever required, coding them and owning the entire platform as well. One of the major projects that we are initiating this year is overall integrated pla­n­ning. Since demand forecasting, production planning and procurement planning happen in a siloed manner, we want to integrate all these processes. We are cu­rrently ex­­ploring if a solution that can solve this iss­ue is available in the market, or if we should just build our own solution. How­ever, we are focused on bringing in operational efficiency right from demand forecasting.

What role can connected plants play in the CPG space? What are the key benefits? Is your organisation looking to move towards connected plants?

I am here to learn more about connected plants. It is on our agenda here to understand this technology from other panellists, and obviously from the sponsors th­em­selves. We’ll give them an opportunity to elaborate on what a connected plant is, and how it can actually work wonders for our organisation.

What are the key challenges faced in the digitalisation of manufacturing?

Some of the challenges are security and the overall framework becoming too complicated as we increase the number of end-po­i­nts. This is because, with connected pla­nts, you need to add more end-points, and wh­en you undertake investments in connected plants, you must safeguard all those end-points. This becomes a hurdle for implementing more digital solutions such as 5G, where we have not tested the waters yet.

What will be your digital focus areas for the next year?

The first would be to harvest the investments we have made in digital transformation. Then, we would want our warehouse management system and order management systems to be used and adapted in the right manner. Further, we want to make the overall planning cycle seamless across all the departments.