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What it takes to realise smart manufacturing and logistics

Nurdianah Md Nur | June 30, 2016
Speakers at the Computerworld Singapore Manufacturing and Logistics Forum 2016 provided tips on digital transformation specific to those two industries.

As for Tetra Pak Group, it began its digital transformation journey by revising its IT strategy to align it at board level to prevent shadow IT, said Fredrik Ohlsson, the company's Director of Enterprise IT Architecture. After deep-dive interviews with its senior leaders, Tetra Pak found that it was missing out on many technology driver business opportunities throughout the value chain. The company thus broke down its IT strategy into three key initiatives.

The first was enabling a connected workforce. "Despite having around 50,000 connected devices, there's little connectivity between them.  [This isn't ideal for] the workforce of the future which needs the right information at their fingertips at all times," said Ohlsson. To counter this, Tetra Pak leveraged a Mobile Connected Platform that integrates data across systems to allow more complex use cases. It also used the Mobile Application platform to simplify the mobile app development.   

The second was using advanced analytics to discover, interpret and communicate meaningful patterns in data to enable improved decision making. The company thus used a joint analytics platform, such as a data lake, to integrate data and develop and host analytics solutions. It also launched an Analytics Centre of Excellence to institutionalise analytics expertise and support business projects centrally, added Ohlsson.

The final initiative was to leverage connected solutions to enhance existing or create new customer solutions by adding digital capabilities to them. Tetra Pak thus deployed a central platform for connected solutions to orchestrate (ie. manage system intelligence) and integrate systems (ie. transfer data across system). Similar to the analytics initiative, a Centre of Excellence for connected solutions was also established to institutionalise expertise and business collaboration.

With all these initiatives in place, Tetra Pak has managed to turn opportunities into its strategic objectives, and its IT team is now a "proactive business partner instead of being a reactive order taker", said Ohlsson.

The final company was ST Logistics. In order to realise its vision to be Singapore's national critical supply chain operations partner of choice, the company had to "keep pace with the evolving supply chain needs in the changing demographics of the nation," said Eric Sim, ST Logistics' Vice President for Strategy and Technology.

As such, the company is looking at using robots to replace manual work. "Aided by cameras, the robots will know what's coming to them so they can configure the amount of strength to apply to the product. Some robots can ensure optimisation too."

The company is also planning to adopt robotic/powered exoskeletons, which are wearable mobile machines that are powered by a system of motor, pneumatics, levers or hydraulics that allow limb movement, increased strength and endurance. Sim said that such technology will enable more senior workers to easily lift heavy products in the warehouse, which is vital as Singapore faces an ageing population.


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