Mars extends its engagement with Microsoft to digitally enhance manufacturing systems

The Mars group has expanded its relationship with Microsoft through using the tech corporation’s Azure platform in a bid to optimise its operational speed and intelligent manufacturing supply chains, writes Neill Barston.

As the confectionery and food group explained, the companies are working to integrate transparent and responsible data, AI and digital technologies into its global businesses.

According to the company, the move will allow a greater level of personalised customer engagement, and provide advanced manufacturing solutions for the company. The company’s move follows other industry examples of engaging with Azure to deliver digital efficiencies, including Swiss-based equipment and systems firm Bühler engaging with the platform over the past couple of years.

As for Mars, working with Accenture as a partner to Microsoft, the companies are further expanding a unified cloud and data foundation across all Mars businesses on Microsoft Azure, helping Mars achieve its “cloud-first” strategy and significantly fast-tracking its cloud journey as well as delivering business growth.

This digital infrastructure is providing Mars with the business insights needed to accelerate growth, profitability, speed, resiliency, sustainability and, most importantly, build and develop trust with customers and consumers by offering more responsible, transparent and compelling experiences.

“Our relationship with Microsoft is helping transform how data and technology are used to continue ensuring compliant customer solutions and build trusted brand and consumer experiences. It will change the relationship between our brands and consumers, deliver hyper-relevant consumer experiences that include content and media, and fulfil needs and expectations across every touchpoint in the consumer’s journey,” said Sandeep Dadlani, Chief Digital Officer, Mars.

Microsoft Azure’s AI and IoT solutions provide Mars with the tools and capabilities to digitise its supply chain at scale — including manufacturing (which could impact on core lines such as Mars bar production, below)  — while enhancing the collective digital skills of Mars Associates globally. Mars has already made progress to enable this digitisation, working with digital manufacturing and operations experts from Accenture’s Industry X group to deploy the Azure Digital Twins IoT platform in its manufacturing facilities. Using Digital Twins to optimise production will help Mars improve margins and reduce waste, and empower on-site associates to make real-time decisions.

Based on this use case, Mars will be able to quickly scale to use similar IoT technologies for optimising manufacturing across its business segments, including food segments, providing process control, consistency and uniformity across product lines and helping to give the company a competitive advantage by increasing speed and capacity, and reducing operational costs.

In the future, Mars plans to use digital technologies to introduce even more intelligence into the end-to-end supply-chain processes, including identifying the optimal way to create products through digital simulations that take into account climate and other situational considerations, as well as creating greater transparency and visibility into its supply chain from the point of origin all the way to the consumer.

“Through our expanded relationship, we’re harnessing the expertise and insights Mars has gained from more than a century of producing some of the world’s most loved brands to create a layer of intelligence that will drive reimagined experiences for Associates and consumers,” said Judson Althoff, Executive Vice President of Microsoft’s Worldwide Commercial Business. “Together, we will create a foundation for cloud, data and AI that will allow Mars to grow faster and transform how work gets done.”

Mars, Accenture and Microsoft share similar ambitions around sustainability, which was a key decision-making factor for Mars choosing Azure.  As the company continues to migrate key infrastructure and workloads to the new platform, Microsoft’s commitment to 100% renewable energy in its data centres by 2025 will help Mars reach its own goal to reduce its total greenhouse gas emissions across its value chain by 67% by 2050.

The relationship is also helping Mars make progress toward its other sustainability goals around environmental impact by implementing technology solutions for reducing the waste of energy, raw materials and water across its production facilities around the world.

Mars has always been considered a forward-looking and modern workplace, ranked fifth in the 2020 Fortune’s Global Best Places to Work List.



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