Procter & Gamble partners with Microsoft to transform and accelerate digital manufacturing

You are probably familiar with Procter & Gamble, often referred to simply as P&G. The company has been around for almost two centuries and has a wide array of iconic brands that essentially define their markets: Pampers diapers, Tide laundry detergent, Bounty paper towels, Charmin toilet paper, Gilette razors, and more. When you think of P&G, one thing that probably doesn’t immediately come to mind is digital transformation, but P&G is working with Microsoft to transform manufacturing.

Microsoft and P&G

Last week, Microsoft and P&G announced a new multi-year collaborative effort that will leverage the Microsoft Cloud to develop new innovations and create the future of digital manufacturing for P&G.

“Together with Microsoft, P&G intends to make manufacturing smarter by enabling scalable predictive quality, predictive maintenance, controlled release, contactless operations, and manufacturing sustainability optimization – all of which hasn’t been done at this scale in the manufacturing space to date,” said Vittorio Cretella, CIO of P&Gin a joint press release from Microsoft and P&G announcing the relationship.

P&G believes the collaborative effort will make better use of data, AI (artificial intelligence) capabilities and digital twin technology. He expects to optimize manufacturing efforts for environmental sustainability and increase labor efficiency and productivity.

“With Azure as our foundation, our new collaboration will allow us to digitally connect P&G manufacturing sites around the world. We will be able to collect, integrate and analyze machine and sensor data from over 100 sites, build machine learning models and deploy them to the edge to improve the predictive quality of manufacturing and better manage supply chain efficiency and resilience,” Cretella said, in a publish on LinkedIn. “We are leveraging data at a scale never seen before and creating capabilities that haven’t existed before to improve the predictive quality of manufacturing equipment and manage supply chain efficiency. These advancements are constructively disrupting manufacturing standards to transform the way we operate and help us deliver the highest quality, with the greatest consistency, to our consumers.

Microsoft and P&G initially focused on making diapers and paper towels. The joint press release outlines the issues being addressed and how the collaboration between the two will streamline and improve digital manufacturing:

Layers and Data: Quality Control and Process Improvement

P&G is advancing its diaper manufacturing process to reduce manufacturing downtime, minimize scrap, and reduce maintenance expenses by automatically detecting and resolving top causes of line downtime and rework. using machine learning. Diaper production involves joining many layers of material at high speed with great precision to ensure optimal absorbency, superior leak protection and exceptional 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.

Pioneer Hand Towels

In a pilot project with Microsoft, P&G can now better predict the length of finished paper towel sheets, 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 such as advanced algorithms, machine learning and predictive analytics to improve manufacturing efficiency. manufacturing.

The future of digital manufacturing

I had the opportunity to chat with Judson Althoff, Microsoft EVP and Chief Commercial Officer, and April Cielica, SVP of Global Business Services at P&G, about the partnership and the larger vision behind it.

I asked April to share what initially prompted P&G to pursue this project. “At P&G, we strive to understand and solve the issues consumers face in their daily lives. Connecting business strategy to technology opportunities across all dimensions of our business – digitizing the business – is one of the ways we do this. This collaboration with Microsoft is an excellent example.

Cielica continued, “P&G and Microsoft share a passion for data and AI and are working together to find innovative ways to apply these capabilities to transform the work we do together. This new collaboration uses Microsoft Azure data and artificial intelligence solutions to optimize our manufacturing and packaging processes. As a result, we will bring higher quality P&G products to consumers faster.

“Digital labor has accelerated innovation in so many ways,” Althoff explained. “While no business is 100% resilient, we find that those that are bolstered by some level of digital capability are more resilient than others. And that also plays into this notion of perseverance as we look forward through the times we face which are quite uncertain – with rising inflation, and with wars in Europe, and with ever the fear that the pandemic is not over. This notion of investment for innovation is a way to help a company move forward and persevere in times of uncertainty.

Blazing Trails and the Industrial Metaverse

Companies of all sizes and in all industries around the world are currently facing difficult times, but in the area of ​​consumer goods manufacturing, inflationary pressure is even more intense and is putting pressure on the market. Now more than ever, these companies need to find ways to manufacture more efficiently and profitably.

This is where the relationship between Microsoft and P&G opens up a new innovative frontier. Traditionally, everything in the manufacturing process has a cost. This creates a carbon footprint. It produces waste. Even the slightest inefficiency in the manufacturing process or in the company can seriously affect both results and the environment. With Microsoft Cloud, however, P&G can simulate the cloud manufacturing environment, combine measurements and feedback from real-world manufacturing facilities, and allow P&G to model different scenarios or analyze how process changes or system adjustments will take place.

Althoff described it in terms of an industrial metaverse. “If you think about those two things I talked about – the idea of ​​being able to holographically teleport into any environment to help people remotely for training purposes or for remote management and operations, as well that’s this digital twin construct where we can virtually model any process end to end. You bring those two things together in what we call the industrial metaverse. It allows you to leverage those technologies to fully simulate the environments of end-to-end manufacturing and supply chain before building them in the physical realm.

Innovate the future

The collaboration between Microsoft and P&G is still in its early stages, but P&G said it was pleased with the progress made so far. It all started with diapers and paper towels, but P&G makes hundreds of products in facilities around the world, so this is just the start.

Cielica said, “P&G is already innovating and using Azure IoT Hub and IoT Edge to help manufacturing technicians analyze information more quickly and efficiently, creating improvements in the production of our baby care products and paper with ongoing pilot projects in Egypt, India and Japan. and the United States. The goal is to expand these efforts over time as we learn together.

Marjorie N. McClure