P&G, Microsoft co-innovate on future of smart manufacturing

P&G is leveraging AI and IIoT to increase quality, efficiency and customer satisfaction with Microsoft – something not seen at this scale in manufacturing

P&G is on a mission, to create the future of digital manufacturing. As part of its business transformation through digital technology, the company is making manufacturing smarter, with a little help from Microsoft.

The consumer goods giant intends to achieve this by enabling scalable predictive quality, predictive maintenance, controlled release, touchless operations and manufacturing sustainability optimisation – something that hasn’t been done at this scale in the manufacturing space to date.

It marks the first time for P&G in digitising and integrating data from more than 100 manufacturing sites around the world and enhancing its AI, machine learning and edge computing services for real-time visibility.

In a first-of-its-kind co-innovation agreement, P&G and Microsoft will digitise and integrate data to increase quality, efficiency and sustainable use of resources, and will leverage the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) to help bring products to consumers faster, increase customer satisfaction and improve productivity to reduce costs.

The new collaboration will:

  • Allow for better utilisatiion of data, AI capabilities and digital twin technology
  • Optimise manufacturing environmental sustainability efforts
  • Increase workforce efficiency and productivity

Along with Microsoft Azure as the foundation, AI and IIoT will also be leveraged to accommodate volatility in the consumer products industry with innovative, agile solutions that can easily scale based on market conditions.

To help accelerate the technology integration, P&G and Microsoft have co-created a Digital Enablement Officer (DEO) staffed by experts from both organisations, and together will deploy the Azure platform. 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.

How P&G is achieving the smartest moves in manufacturing

As part of this collaboration with Microsoft, P&G will be able to reduce downtime, increase sustainability, ensure quality, improve productivity and even predict equipment failure.

1. Advancing operations with IIoT
P&G is already using Azure IoT Hub and IoT Edge to help manufacturing technicians analyse 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 US. The company is making advancements in its diaper manufacturing process to reduce downtime, minimise scrap and lower maintenance expenses by automatically detecting and resolving the largest causes of line stops and rework using ML. The production of diapers involves assembling many layers of material at high speed with great precision to ensure optimal absorbency, superior leak protection and great 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. 

2. Increasing sustainability and predicting equipment failure
To optimise manufacturing sustainability, P&G will use Microsoft's ML and data storage platforms to improve energy utilisation across its paper machines in Family Care. With the efficiency and speed of cloud computing, P&G teams can analyse 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.

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