P&G, Microsoft co-innovate digital manufacturing

  • June 13, 2022
  • William Payne

Procter & Gamble and Microsoft have embarked on a multiyear collaboration that will employ the Microsoft Cloud to build future digital manufacturing at P&G.

The two companies will co-innovate to accelerate and expand P&G’s digital manufacturing platform and leverage 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 optimisation — 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 digitise and integrate data to increase quality, efficiency and sustainable use of resources to help deliver those superior experiences.”

The new collaboration will be the first time that P&G can digitise 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 analyse production data and leverage artificial intelligence to make decisions immediately to drive improvement.

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 utilisation of data, AI capabilities and digital twins technology
  • Optimise 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.”

P&G is already innovating and 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 United States.

P&G is making advancements in its diaper manufacturing process to reduce manufacturing downtime, minimise 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.

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 such as advanced algorithms, machine learning and predictive analytics so it can improve manufacturing efficiencies.

To optimise manufacturing sustainability, P&G will use Microsoft’s machine learning 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.

To accelerate technology integration and support pilot programmes, Microsoft and P&G have co-created a Digital Enablement Office (DEO) staffed by experts from both organisations. 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.