Features, Insight, Opinion

How digitisation supercharges manufacturing agility and resilience

Implementing digital capabilities helps manufacturing plants – and their workers – to respond to changing market conditions quickly and effectively writes Sree Hameed, Consumer Products Industry Strategist, AVEVA

In the last two years, the focus for manufacturing operations in the consumer packaged goods (CPG) sector has rapidly shifted from overall efficiency towards agility and resilience.

Historically, the goal of digital investments has been to maintain and improve cost control. And even when supply chains became global, further increasing the risk of disruptions, manufacturers protected plants from variability with inventory so they could continue to focus on efficiency. However, the pandemic fundamentally challenged this way of working.

The speed at which it was able to disrupt global supply chains has been an unprecedented stress test, and one that we are still in the midst of.

Last year, a World Economic Forum report identified four permanent shifts of focus that have come from businesses dealing with demand uncertainty and disruptions.

Enabling agility through digital twins

Built with real-time operational data, digital twins can help understand what the plant is “capable-to-promise”, by providing real-time situational awareness via edge-to-enterprise visibility. What’s more, the digital twin provides the foundation for AI and predictive analytics to provide powerful insights that empower workers to optimise processes and throughput.

To respond effectively to supply chain disruptions that are occurring on almost a daily basis, capabilities like advanced planning and scheduling can align the plant with supply chain planning to quickly adapt to fast-changing situations.

Improving the plant-to-supply chain linkage gives the business more options to respond by looking holistically across the “source-make-deliver” processes.

Enabling agility through connected workers

A connected business, with access to information anywhere and at any time, increases agility and enables manufacturers to response to the challenge of today’s dynamic markets.

Coupled with knowledgeable and empowered workers – who are the ultimate drivers of continuous improvement and resilience – businesses can really push the boundaries of their agility. Indeed, a key factor for future manufacturing operations improvements is collaboration of people and systems.

Digital transformation makes information more accessible to employees, connecting them to plant processes, data and systems as well as other workers across functional domains and functions, developing a living repository of staff knowledge and experience.

Cargill’s CIO, for example, talked about how the company’s organisational walls came down and subject matter experts rose up in response to the early days of the pandemic. Effectively the right people came together, he says, adding that he was pleasantly surprised that such a large company could be so agile.

Towards true agility

Businesses cannot control incidents that occur across the wider supply chain, but having agility and resilience allows them to adapt quickly. By taking steps to improve yours today, you’ll be well positioned to make the right decisions when issues occur, as well as gather data around long-term trends and patterns that will set you up to be event more agile and resilient in the future.

Technology providers are here to offer guidance, and have the tools to help CPG manufacturers along their digital transformation journeys. A trusted provider can help you discover how digital transformation could improve your business’ agility and resilience, and help you to become better prepared to navigate today’s changeable manufacturing supply chain landscape.

Learn more about how AVEVA transforms the world’s manufacturing and consumer packaged goods companies here.

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