Dec 15, 2014

Top 10 ways big data is changing the manufacturing landscape forever

3 min
In an article recently published by Forbes, software expert Louis Columbus discusses 10 ways big data is having an impact on the manufacturing sector.
In an article recently published by Forbes, software expert Louis Columbus discusses 10 ways big data is having an impact on the manufacturing sector...

In an article recently published by Forbes, software expert Louis Columbus discusses 10 ways big data is having an impact on the manufacturing sector. Manufacturers are already using advances analytics to increase yields, reduce costs, monitor production and gain operation insights.

However, big data and advanced analytics also have the potential to streamline manufacturing value chains by finding the core determinants of process performance, and then taking action to continually improve them.

How big data is revolutionizing manufacturing

1. Making ‘smart factories’ a reality

Industry 4.0 or Industrie 4.0 is a German government initiative that promotes automation in the manufacturing industry - its ultimate aim being to develop so-called smart factories. Big data is already being used in this regard to optimize production schedules based on supply and demand, machine availability and cost constraints. However, the ultimate smart factory is one that is multifunctional, diverse and lean – big data and advanced analytics will become critical to its success.

2. Better forecasts of product demand and production

Big data and sophisticated analytics can give manufacturers information in real-time about product success and demand. This information can help manufacturers save time and money, while reducing waste.

3. Understanding plant performance across multiple metrics

Performance is not measured on one metric, but multiple indicators and big data, for the first time allows manufacturers to pool all this data in one place and gain genuine overall insights into performance, efficiency and quality control.

4. Providing faster customer service and support

A happy customer is a loyal customer and that translates directly into a healthy bottom line. Big data analytics can help manufacturers respond quickly to customer complaints or queries.

5. Integrating advanced analytics across the Six Sigma DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve and Control) framework to fuel continuous improvement

Big data will give manufacturers greater insight into how each phase of a DMAIC-driven improvement program is working. The use of big data in this way shows great potential to make production workflows more customer-driven than ever before.

6. Greater visibility into supplier quality levels, and greater accuracy in predicting supplier performance over time

Using big data and advanced analytics, manufacturers are able to view product quality and delivery accuracy in real-time. Armed with this information, they can give preference to top suppliers and thus improve quality overtime.

7. Equipment monitoring and preventative maintenance

More and more frequently, manufacturing machines are being fitted with sensors to monitor their activity and performance. These sensors report back activity and can send alerts for preventative maintenance.

8. Measuring compliance and traceability

Using sensors on all machinery in a production center provides operations managers with immediate visibility. Advanced analytics can provide insight into quality, performance and training variances by each machine and its operators. This is invaluable in streamlining workflows in a production center, and is becoming increasingly commonplace.

9. Making quality a top priority

Manufacturers, for a long time, have viewed quality control as a standalone concern, however big data and predictive analytics have helped make it a top-level priority. The use of software and big data means that quality can be integrated throughout the entire supply chain, rather than at the end of the production line. This level of knowledge will increase quality while reducing waste.

10. Financial performance and visibility

Big data and advanced analytics are delivering the missing link that can unify daily production activity to the financial performance of a manufacturer. Being able to know to the machine level if the factory floor is running efficiently, production planners and senior management know how best to scale operations.  By unifying daily production to financial metrics, manufacturers have a greater chance of profitably scaling their operations.

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Mar 14, 2019

Top 10 Fast-Moving Consumer Goods companies

Catherine Sturman
5 min
FMCG companies
10. L’Oréal

10. L’Oréal

Founded in 1919 in France, L’Oréal has grown into a multinational brand with over 82,000 employees, becoming one of the most internationally recognised FMCG companies worldwide.

Registering 498 patents in 2017, the business is focused on innovation and developing strong relationships with suppliers and partners. 100% of its strategically important suppliers will also take part in its sustainable development programme in 2020.

9. Phillip Morris

Despite various campaigns, over a billion people are set to smoke in 2025. Multinational FMCG company, Philip Morris remains a leading tobacco company, expanding its footprint into more than 180 key markets.

With 81,000 employees covering 80 languages in total, the company houses a comprehensive, agricultural supply chain; sourcing 400,000 metric tonnes of tobacco each year in partnership with 350,000+ tobacco farmers. The company has also sought to embrace the manufacture of electronic devices for heated tobacco products and ecigarettes.

8. JBS

Launched in the 1950s, global Brazilian food industry leader JBS is now home to 300 production facilities with over 10 billion-dollar brands under its umbrella., such as Seara, Swift, Friboi, Doriana, Moy Park, Pilgrim’s, Primo and more.

Serving more than 300,000 customers, it is the world’s largest company in the beef sector, with over 235,000 employees. Its Legal Supplier Programme has enabled beef suppliers to adapt to Brazil’s environmental legislation, whilst the Green Light Pact initiative has seen cattle breeding centres in Mato Grosso do Sul, Brazil improve their production practices.

7.  Coca Cola

Coca-Cola’s wide-ranging distribution network, strong portfolio and exceptional marketing capabilities have made it one of the most iconic FMCG companies in the world.

Available in over 200 countries, its products are supplied through one of the world’s largest beverage distribution networks, where suppliers must adhere to its Sustainable Agriculture Guiding Principles (SAGP) and Supplier Engagement Program.

Adopting SmartLabel technology across its manufacturing operations, the business is also leading the way in the identification, implementation and sharing of best practices. Each product now houses a QR code, providing complete transparency. The company is also looking to reduce the emissions from its production processes, where 42% of energy used at its sites is sourced from renewable energy sources.

6. AB InBev

Originally established by combining three big companies: Interbrew, Ambev and Anheuser-Busch, Belgian-Brazilian beverage company AB InBev is officially the world’s largest beverage business.

Selling over 500 beer brands, such as Budweiser, Corona, Leffe and Quilmes in more than 100 countries, the company is acutely aware of its need to frequently adapt and enhance its distribution network.


Partnering with nearly 50,000 farmers, the business is committed to sustainable sourcing, where its flagship platform, SmartBarley has utilised data analytics to support more than 5,000 enrolled farmers improve their productivity and environmental performance. AI and blockchain will also support its manufacturing capabilities.

5. Unilever

Housing some of the most recognisable everyday brands, Unilever’s aggressive acquisition strategy and strong brand presence has seen it become a household name across 190 countries worldwide. Its R&D centres have sought to fully bolster its manufacturing operations and vast distribution network, where the business has maintained its zero non-hazardous waste-to- landfill agenda since 2017.

Additionally, a number of its initiatives have provided employment opportunities to those in rural areas. Unilever’s Sustainable Living Plan (USLP) has enabled half of the company’s agricultural raw materials, such as palm oil to become sustainably sourced. Not only that, 26 sustainable living brands are now situated under the company’s umbrella.

4. PepsiCo

The main rival to Coca-Cola, PepsiCo’s beverages, as well as its food products continue to grow in popularity and demand.

Harnessing significant brand awareness, the Fortune 500 company is one of the most admired companies in the world. Its six global divisions form part of its aim to transform its products which are delivered through its extensive distribution network to meet the ever-evolving needs of customers.

3. Procter & Gamble

Following from its acquisition of personal care company Gillette in 2005, Procter & Gamble has become one the largest FMCG companies, with operations in up to 70 countries.

Providing a range of personal and consumer health products to five billion customers, the company’s recent plans to acquire the consumer health division of Merck Group, as well as implementing a new simplified management structure will form part of its 2020 vision.

2. Johnson & Johnson

A firm family favourite, Johnson & Johnson remains one of the most influential FMCG companies. With products in three categories, Consumer Healthcare, Medical Devices and Pharmaceuticals, the business has grown at a considerate pace, with up to 250 subsidiaries under its umbrella.

The company’s complex, global distribution network and diverse supplier base has seen the business embrace new technologies across its network, as it continues to thrive in its role in delivering quality products and services at affordable prices for consumers.

1. Nestle AG

Undertaking a number of corporate acquisitions, Swiss food and beverage company, Nestle has become the largest in the world, with more than 2000 brands available in 189 countries.

Home to the world’s largest private food and nutrition research organisation, the company invested US$1.7bn in its research capabilities in 2017 alone, supporting its 30 R&D facilities worldwide. Its recent partnership with Starbucks will see the business bolster its complex distribution network.

Additionally, in alignment with UN Sustainable Development Goals, Nestle is striving for zero environmental impact across its operations. Providing clear labels across its manufacturing lines, the company provides nutritional knowledge as well as supporting local farmers who provide high quality ingredients within its sustainable sourcing efforts.

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