Accenture logo on the facade of multinational business management consultant company. WARSAW, POLAND - MAY 31, 2021
Image: OlekAdobe/Adobe Stock

Artificial intelligence, cloud, edge and digital twin technologies have proven to be great additions to modern businesses. As a result, several organizations are not slowing down in adopting these new technologies to revamp and optimize their businesses to meet future demands.

Not ready to be left behind in a world of business that is aggressively driven by these new technologies, Mars, the well-known confectionery, food and pet care products manufacturer, recently announced a partnership with Accenture, a professional services company in digital, cloud and security, to remodel its manufacturing operations.

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The two companies have been working on digital twin technology since 2020 and hope to harness it in manufacturing plants. This technology helps businesses afford digital representation of their products, machines and processes. Through Accenture, Mars hopes to optimize its manufacturing plants by simulating and validating the results of product and factory adjustments before allocating time and resources in the physical space.

Before this partnership announcement, both companies had tested a digital twin to reduce instances of over-filling packages, which the companies saw as a common problem in the food industry.

In conducting the test, sensor data was pulled from the manufacturing machinery and fed into a predictive analytics model. This gave the factory operators a better insight into real-time events for adjusting the filling process. The success recorded after the test led Accenture and Mars to introduce the digital twin solution across the U.S. and also made both companies develop and deploy similar solutions for Mars’ pet care business in Europe and China.

How the partnership will play out

Under this new partnership arrangement, Mars will be tapping into Accenture’s technological innovations in the digital twin, AI, edge and cloud to facilitate its manufacturing facilities worldwide. In addition, it is hoped that the digital twin model provided by Accenture would provide Mars factory operators with real-time insights and analytics into current and predictive performance.

“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, a managing director at Accenture leading its digital twin project with Mars. “While many companies are beginning to experiment with digital twin, what sets this project apart is the speed and scaling of the technology across Mars’ operations globally.”

This new partnership will also see Accenture and Mars create and deploy a new cloud platform for manufacturing applications, data and AI to establish what they call a “factory of the future.” The companies believe that the new platform will provide next-generation robotics, AI and automation capabilities at the edge to make Mars manufacturing operations more efficient. The platform is also expected to help meet essential sustainability goals such as water stewardship and reducing waste and total greenhouse gas emissions.

“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,” said William Beery, vice president and global CIO at Mars.

Where does this partnership leave Mars and Accenture?

Mars has taken significant strides over the years to try and improve its manufacturing processes using innovative technologies.

“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,” explained Thiago Veiga, senior director of digital supply, R&D and procurement at Mars.

In 2021, the company made public its agreement to set up what they tagged “a digital first” agreement with Microsoft and their partners. The move was aimed at expanding a unified cloud and data foundation across Mars’ business operations.

With the global confectionery market projected to grow from $194.37 billion in 2021 to $242.53 billion in 2028 at a CAGR of 3.8%, we may be witnessing a major push from Mars to nudge the key players in the market like The Hershey Company, Nestlé and Mondelez International. Although this might take some time to happen, with Accenture bringing cloud, edge and AI that will boost manufacturing and supply chain capabilities, Mars could be on a journey to gain a good spot in the global confectionery, pet care and food production market share.

With this partnership, Accenture hopes to add to the pool of its growing global partnerships. Earlier this year, the company announced that it would be joining forces with Microsoft and Avanade to tackle climate change. With climate change widely regarded as one of the most critical and urgent challenges facing businesses, Accenture’s partnership with Microsoft and Avanade will provide solutions to help organizations transform their operations, products and services in a way that will help cut greenhouse gas emissions.

Similarly, there have been announcements of collaborations with Toshiba to drive green transformation and the acquisition of Blackcomb Consultants and Stellantis’ World Class Manufacturing Training & Consulting. All of these point to the fact that Accenture is on a business expansion mission. It also suggests that we might continue to witness more collaborations and acquisitions from them in the future.

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