October 4, 2022
Accenture has announced it is working with Mars, Inc. (maker of Snickers, M&M’s, etc.), to transform and modernize its global manufacturing operations with a combination of artificial intelligence, cloud, edge technology and digital twins.
The two companies have been trialing digital twins – virtual representations of machines, products and processes – for Mars’ manufacturing operations since late 2020. Fed with real-time data, the digital twins can predict and optimize production processes and equipment performance, from reliability to quality to energy efficiency. When 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, Accenture said.
For example, the two 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.
With the new agreement, the two companies will apply digital twin technology and models to Mars’ manufacturing facilities globally, giving line operators more insights into current and predictive performance. Mars said it plans to apply them to dozens of use cases over the next three years.
Over the next two years, Accenture and Mars said they will create a new cloud platform for manufacturing applications, data and AI to lay the foundation for its vision of the “Factory of the Future, which includes next-generation robotics, AI and automation capabilities at the edge. The goals are to achieve more efficient operations and also address sustainability goals, such as water stewardship and reducing waste and greenhouse gas emissions.
“Our collaboration with Accenture, combined with our partnership with Microsoft, enables us to scale digital twin to reach this goal, delivering not just significant cost savings and sustainability, but preparing our manufacturing operations for the future of work,” said William Beery, vice president and global CIO at Mars Wrigley.
“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,” said Simon Osborne, managing director at Accenture. “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.”