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?

There is a high level of maturity needed for CPG enterprises in terms of adopting digital solutions. The adoption of digital technologies is no longer a choice. In this era of e-commerce, consumer personalisation and online experience, enterprises ne­ed an agile and competitive business mo­­del based on digital technologies.

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

We are focusing on the supply chain this year. We have initiated an internet of th­ings (IoT) pilot project at one of our factories. We are going to install IoT sensors on seven more lines to increase machine effectiveness and digitalisation.

Since we are in the cold chain business, we have initiated a process of tracking vehicles. We have over 330 vehicles across India, and all these vehicles have different partners with different temperature monitoring systems. Recently, we initiated a pilot with two or three vendors, wherein we are going to install temperature sensors on a few transport vehicles.

The third important project is improving the efficiency of our supply chain te­am. Traditionally, through a process called auto replenishment, two or three per­sons in the supply chain team generate plan or­ders, which have to be dispatched to various locations. During the March to June period, five to six people are involved in just generating and planning these orders, from morning till night. So, we now have one solution to automate these tasks and provide readymade inputs to the team, so that their work-life balance is improved. These are the three major initiatives we are undertaking.

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

“Smart factory” and “connected factory” are not just buzzwords nowadays. There are two major benefits offered by a connected plant. First is digitalisation, which means eliminating all paper-based proce­s­ses and capturing digital logs through IoT sensors. The second is visibility of manufacturing operations, stock and overall performance across locations on a single dashboard.

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

A challenge in the manufacturing domain is legacy systems. Another is the fear of failure in terms of digital initiatives. Yet another is the upskilling of the existing workforce.

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

Our overall focus will be related to manufacturing. The idea is to move towards CPG 4.0. Under this, we will have three major focus areas. One is improving the ma­nufacturing efficiency of machines through the implementation of IoT sensors on our shop floor. The second is to revolutionise and increase the efficiency of our supply chain operations, which inclu­des cold chain monitoring. And the third is improving efficiency or work-life balance for our supply chain team using the process of automation.