How Neural Manufacturing for Process Industries Fosters Intelligent Business Process Automation

By Mark Sen Gupta

  Summary

ARC Advisory Group recently met with Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) to discuss its new family of services for Neural Manufacturingprocess manufacturers called “Neural Manufacturing for Process.” TCS defines Neural Manufacturing as manufacturing where the value chains are responsive, adaptive, and resilient. According to the company, Neural Manufacturing is a thought leadership framework that enables an organization and its ecosystems to become connected, cognitive, and collaborative. Its purpose is to enable agility and exponential growth, providing an intelligent edge. Technology plays a foundational role in building the future enterprise, allowing businesses to redefine their operations, services, products, and customer experiences with agility and market alignment.

Key findings include:

  • Neural Manufacturing allows clients to address the business in a holistic manner including closing the gaps between “silos.”
  • Clients usually start with a problem statement and can scale as needed.
  • TCS’ breadth of experience in multiple industries and across the enterprise, from shop floor to C-suite, allows clients to benefit from solutions that address many different layers of the business and specific industry dynamics.

Outpacing the Speed of Change

TCS shared that the pace of technological change continues to accelerate due to globalized supply chains, lean Neural Manufacturingmethodologies, and digitalization of processes and products. Process manufacturers must continue to transform from one cycle of technology adoption to the next. The need for changes in operating models and rapid shifts in business models force process manufacturers to consider more agile and flexible business models.

The past two years highlighted the intense quickness with which manufacturers had to react. Within a couple of months, life as usual stopped due to a global pandemic. Supply chains were disrupted and continue to suffer the ripple effects. New opportunities popped up overnight, like mask production and pharmaceutical demands, and now those industries need to pivot again as world moves from pandemic to endemic.

Corporations have also seen a marked shift in government and market expectations with respect to environmental issues. The push to become a better corporate citizen is stronger than ever with several agencies rating companies regarding their environmental, social, and governance (ESG) strategy. The importance of this score appears to be increasing as investment firms and banks adjust the supply of capital proportionately. Governments, particularly in the European Union, have also pushed corporations to improve their impact on the environment.

Dominant Themes Shape Service Offerings

Using Neural Manufacturing, TCS has identified seven dominant industry themes it helps manufacturers address: Neural Manufacturingsustainability, smart plant operations, ecosystem models, mergers & acquisitions, enterprise transformation, resilient supply chain, and omnichannel customer experience. It identified these through Voice-of-the-Customer exercises.

In the area of sustainability, TCS sees companies working to redesign products and/or platforms. It also sees customers focus on net-zero emissions/waste in operations. Manufacturers are under pressure to recycle and/or remanufacture their goods for resource circularity, as well.

TCS sees manufacturers focused on “smart” manufacturing. Industry 4.0 has been discussed for several years now, and companies are coming to grips with what that means for their organizations and processes. Struggles in this area include the proper use of artificial intelligence and in what way do robots and drones make sense.

TCS also sees significant opportunities as manufacturers look to create ecosystems that span, not only the enterprise, but across industries too. This same ecosystem approach feeds into outsourcing models and joint ventures. This ecosystem approach can feed an enterprise transformation. The adoption of cloud technologies for infrastructure, data storage, and hosted applications are becoming widely accepted. The new technologies allow organizations to adopt agile methodologies and DevOps practices across its value chain. This adoption includes manufacturing execution and product lifecycle management disciplines.

With regard to resiliency in the supply chain, TCS has witnessed the need for logistic optimization and end-to-end visibility. Another need is more optimal procurement processes to manage expenses and ensure on time delivery of product. Lastly, TCS sees interest in integration and fostering collaboration across various company channels to interact with customers and create a consistent brand experience. This integration includes offline and online channels to market and has a goal of customized outreach.

Neural Manufacturing Provides Context and Answers

TCS believes its investments in virtual formulations, digital farming and forestry, sustainability, GHG management and bioremediation, digital twin and golden batch, etc. align to help process manufacturing businesses rapidly redefine customers’ operating and business models to gain a competitive advantage in the race for sustaining market dominance. It has formulated a fairly comprehensive digital transformation roadmap for process clients that can accommodate sales and marketing, supply chain, manufacturing, research & development, and sustainability. It does this using its 3-dimensional engagement model of consulting services that allow it to identify what areas to focus on to meet the customers’ desired outcomes.

The first area is Enterprise Consulting. This involves an evaluation of how things like enterprise resource management (ERM), customer relationship management (CRM), product lifecycle management (PLM), and manufacturing execution systems (MES) are currently used versus the customers’ goals. A second area is Business Consulting, which involves evaluating a company’s environmental, health, and safety program (EHS), customer experience management programs (CEM), supply chain management programs (SCM), etc. The third area is Technology Consulting which involves evaluating a company’s use of cloud, its various data platforms and integration and use of such.

Success Stories

TCS shared several success stories with ARC, as well. One involved a global adhesive and paper manufacturer who needed to reduce energy costs significantly and gain an enterprise view at the plant level. It also needed to achieve sustainability goals on energy conservation with a key KPI being energy intensity. Using a solution branded “TCS Clever Energy” to identify energy waste in real time, the customer achieved its goals and reduced its energy bill by $14 million. Energy consumption dropped between 7 and 10 percent.

In the area of supply chain optimization, TCS helped a large chemical manufacturer with improved order fulfillment and better customer experience. The solution consisted of improved visibility of the fulfillment process, identification of bottlenecks, and an improved customer experience. As a result, the company was able to improve its perfect order fulfillment rate to 85 percent while reducing working capital by 15 percent.

A material science client wanted to reverse the trends from the uncertainties arising from the pandemic to improve its top-line and transform its experience for its business customers. TCS was engaged by the client to transform the ecommerce platform to provide a consistent digital experience across all sales channels. TCS brought its process industry domain consultants, UI, UX, Design, Content, Automation and Web technology teams together to create a blueprint for the new system. Input from the customer stakeholders came through a design workshop. The outcome led to a roadmap to transform lead generation, digital order creation, self-service of orders, and remote digital assistance for its complaint resolution. This resulted in doubling online sales and reduced the order creation lead time by four hours.

Conclusion

Technology adoption has dramatically increased competitive pressures and placed intense demands on the organization to become intelligent, agile, and insight driven. The corresponding digitalization of businesses involves products, customer engagement, distribution channels, enterprise core systems, and nearly all business processes. The future for process manufacturing enterprises and their ecosystems will be connected, cognitive, and collaborative to demonstrate resilience, adaptability, and purpose-driven behaviors. Digital transformation addresses the business processes retarding enterprise growth by leveraging technology. History shows that change is difficult for many companies – particularly process industries with hard, complex, and big assets. They often have difficulty with industry dynamics driven by software technology adoption.

With many good case stories, TCS has successfully demonstrated the benefits of neural ecosystems in the process industries. Several process manufacturing companies have implemented IIoT, cloud, analytics, and augmented reality to achieve end-to-end visibility, quality, and productivity improvements during the manufacturing process. Additionally, TCS is actively participating in developing data monetization approaches for manufacturing companies. The case studies show that companies can start with manageable projects to digitally transform aspects of their businesses and then build on that success.

TCS is in an interesting position to help manufacturing clients with technology-driven business improvements due to its technical breadth across the business spectrum, from shop floor to C-suite. This allows TCS to pull experienced resources to address its clients’ specifics needs.

 

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Keywords: Neural Manufacturing, Environmental Social and Governance (ESG), Process Industries, Supply Chain, Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), IIoT, Cloud, Digital Transformation, ARC Advisory Group.

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