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?

Before we start talking about digital maturity, we need to understand that it is also li­nked with the ability of the organisation to create value through digital transformation. Enterprises today have made investments in digital transformation, but very few have found returns of the value that they desired, which is something to be considered.

With respect to sales and marketing, we are at the mature level, precipitated by Covid-19, which forced industries to adopt digital strategies at a more rapid pa­ce. In manufacturing, we are at a nasce­nt stage, wherein we have understood the ne­ed for digitalisation and have just star­ted that journey.

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

We are focusing on more collaborative robots or robotic solutions, which can improve our operational efficiency. One of the examples that I would like to present is our palletisation operation. By using robotic technology for palletisation, we can save time and also improve the overall operational efficiency. In the supply chain space, we are looking to ins­tall drones for inventory counting, be­cause there are high, hard-to-reach areas where it is very difficult and time-consuming for people to go and count. Drones can help scan QR codes, count inventory and make it available in the system.

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

There are multiple benefits of a connected plant, and every organisation is now moving on that path. The first benefit is real-time visibility of the overall inventory in the manufacturing and supply chain spa­ces. The second benefit is predictive capabilities with respect to autonomous operation, which is very important. De­tecting faults or proactively monitoring a machine’s he­al­th is also one area where it can help. An­other benefit is benchmarking and standardisation. Traditionally, each plant wou­ld operate in its own way. However, with the help of connected plants, we can standardise processes and systems, which will boost digital transformation.

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

The first challenge is identifying people with the right skills. Further, not having a separate vertical dedicated to digital strategy is a challenge. Every organisation sh­ou­ld have a separate digital vertical with two or more people driving its digital stra­tegy. We also need to have a clearcut road­map and the right process for digital transformation. The right use of technology is also very important, because if we end up using the wrong technology, it can have an adverse impact.

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

Our focus will be on bringing in more data-driven decision making throughout the organisation. We also want to move towards adapting data analytics and collecting more and more data related to ov­erall equipment effectiveness (OEE), on-time delivery, supply chain, inventory, etc., to the organisation. Further, we want to drive business efficiency by adapting more automated solutions.