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P&G ties up with Microsoft to build the future of digital manufacturing

The Procter & Gamble Company and Microsoft Corp. announced a new multiyear collaboration that will leverage the Microsoft Cloud to help create the future of digital manufacturing at P&G.

The two companies will co-innovate to accelerate and expand P&G’s digital manufacturing platform and leverage the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) to bring products to consumers faster, increase customer satisfaction and improve productivity to reduce costs.

“Together with Microsoft, P&G intends to make manufacturing smarter by enabling scalable predictive quality, predictive maintenance, controlled release, touchless operations and manufacturing sustainability optimization — which has not been done at this scale in the manufacturing space to date,” said P&G CIO Vittorio Cretella. “At P&G, data and technology are at the heart of our business strategy and are helping create superior consumer experiences. This first-of-its-kind co-innovation agreement will digitize and integrate data to increase quality, efficiency and sustainable use of resources to help deliver those superior experiences.”

With Microsoft Azure as the foundation, the new collaboration marks the first time that P&G can digitize and integrate data from more than 100 manufacturing sites around the world and enhance its AI, machine learning and edge computing services for real-time visibility. This will enable P&G employees to analyze production data and leverage artificial intelligence to immediately make decisions that drive improvement and exponential impact. Accessing this level of data, at scale, is rare within the consumer goods industry.

P&G selected Microsoft as its preferred cloud provider to build the future of digital manufacturing based on a four-year history of successfully working together on data and AI. The new collaborative effort will:

  • Allow for better utilization of data, AI capabilities and digital twins technology.
  • Optimize manufacturing environmental sustainability efforts.
  • Increase workforce efficiency and productivity.

“We are excited to help P&G accelerate its digital manufacturing platform using Microsoft Azure, AI and IIoT to accommodate volatility in the consumer products industry with innovative, agile solutions that can easily scale based on market conditions,” said Judson Althoff, Microsoft’s chief commercial officer. “Our partnership will further P&G’s growth and business transformation through digital technology that seamlessly connects people, assets, workflow and business processes that promote resiliency.”

Empowering technicians and advancing operations with IIoT

P&G is already innovating and using Azure IoT Hub and IoT Edge to help manufacturing technicians analyze insights with greater speed and efficiency, creating improvements in the production of its baby care and paper products with pilot projects happening in Egypt, India, Japan and the United States.

Diapers and data: Quality control and process improvements

P&G is making advancements in its diaper manufacturing process to reduce manufacturing downtime, minimize scrap and lower maintenance expenses by automatically detecting and resolving the largest causes of line stops and rework using machine learning. The production of diapers involves assembling many layers of material at high speed with great precision to ensure optimal absorbency, superior leak protection and outstanding comfort. The new IIoT platform uses machine telemetry and high-speed analytics to continuously monitor production lines to provide early detection and prevention of potential issues in the material flow. This improves cycle time, reduces rework losses and ensures quality, while simultaneously improving operator productivity.

Pioneering paper towels

In a pilot with Microsoft, P&G can now better predict finished paper towel sheet lengths, improving the ability to deliver the right amount of product to the consumer. With the new IIoT platform, P&G can collect data from sensors on the manufacturing line and use technologies like advanced algorithms, machine learning and predictive analytics so it can improve manufacturing efficiencies.

Increasing sustainability and predicting equipment failure

To optimize manufacturing sustainability, P&G will use Microsoft’s machine learning and data storage platforms to improve energy utilization across its paper machines in Family Care. With the efficiency and speed of cloud computing, P&G teams can analyze large volumes of holistic data sets and pinpoint energy efficiency and machine maintenance opportunities across the manufacturing process. The Azure platform will allow P&G to easily integrate event summary data — such as production runs, downtime, changeovers and more — along with historical data.

Co-innovation with a new Digital Enablement Office and incubator

To accelerate technology integration and support pilot programs, Microsoft and P&G have co-created a Digital Enablement Office (DEO) staffed by experts from both organizations. They will jointly deploy the Azure platform, and the DEO also intends to serve as an incubator to create high-priority business scenarios in the areas of product manufacturing and packaging processes that can be implemented across P&G.

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