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Accenture Collaborates to Develop ‘Factory of the Future’ Using AI, Cloud, Edge and Digital Twins

Accenture is working with Mars, the global leader in confectionary, food, and pet care products and services, to transform and modernize its global manufacturing operations with artificial intelligence (AI), cloud, edge technology and digital twins.

Accenture and Mars have been trialing digital twins for Mars’ manufacturing operations since late 2020. Digital twins are virtual representations of machines, products, or processes. Fed with real-time data, they can predict and optimize production processes and equipment performance, from reliability to quality to energy efficiency. Applied to its manufacturing plants, digital twins will enable Mars to simulate and validate the results of product and factory adjustments before allocating time and resources in the physical space.

The companies tested a digital twin to reduce instances of over-filling packages, a common problem in the food industry. The digital twin gave Mars a bird’s-eye view of the production lines at one of its factories in Illinois. The twin fed sensor data from manufacturing machinery into a predictive analytics model, which allowed factory line operators to monitor events in real-time and adjust the filling process. After the successful test, Accenture and Mars introduced the solution across the U.S. and developed similar solutions for its pet care business in Europe and China.

Under the new agreement, Accenture and Mars will work together to apply digital twin technology and models to the company’s manufacturing facilities globally. This will give Mars factory line operators real-time insights into current and predictive performance. Mars plans to apply them to dozens of use cases over the next three years.

Over the next two years, Accenture and Mars will create a new cloud platform for manufacturing applications, data and artificial intelligence (AI) to lay the foundation for its vision of the ‘Factory of the Future.’ The new platform will provide next-generation robotics, AI and automation capabilities at the edge to make Mars manufacturing operations significantly more efficient and address essential sustainability goals such as water stewardship and reducing waste and total greenhouse gas emissions.

William Beery, vice president, and global CIO at Mars Wrigley said, “Our collaboration with Accenture, combined with our partnership with Microsoft, enables us to scale digital twin technology to reach this goal, delivering not just significant cost savings and sustainability, but preparing our manufacturing operations for the future of work.”

Larry Thomas, a senior managing director at Accenture and client account lead for Mars adds, “Our work with Mars is about using the power of data, cloud and edge computing to modernize factories, boost business agility in response to change, and put power in the hands of Mars Associates so they can make informed decisions faster.”

Accenture brings cloud, engineering, manufacturing, and supply chain capabilities to the project. It also works closely with Microsoft to leverage the Azure platform and Accenture’s proprietary edge accelerators. Earlier this year, Accenture was named Microsoft’s 2022 Manufacturing & Supply Chain Partner of the Year.

Thiago Veiga, senior director of Digital Supply, R&D & Procurement at Mars Inc., said, “We at Mars are constantly looking for innovative and sustainable ways to create value in our end-to-end supply chain, and digital manufacturing is a key priority.”

Simon Osborne, a managing director at Accenture leading its digital twin work with Mars, said, “The problems we’re solving aren’t new; what’s new is how we use advanced technologies to get real-time data into operators’ hands and apply AI to help them make decisions before problems occur. While many companies are beginning to experiment with digital twins, what sets this project apart is the speed and scaling of the technology across Mars’ operations globally.”

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