Mars Digital Factory (003)

Source: Accenture

Mars is creating ‘digital twins’ of all its manufacturing facilities globally so it can simulate changes to production processes virtually before committing time and money to tests in the real world.

These virtual representations of the sites – created in collaboration with Accenture – are fed with real-time data and used to “predict and optimise” any tweaks.

Under a two-year agreement, these virtual versions will be applied to Mars’ manufacturing facilities globally. Mars plans to apply them to dozens of use cases within the next three years, it said.

It is expected the move will make production sites “significantly more efficient and address essential sustainability goals such as water stewardship and reducing waste and total greenhouse gas emissions” Mars said.

“Our collaboration with Accenture, combined with our partnership with Microsoft, enables us to scale digital twin technology to reach this goal,” said William Beery, VP and global CIO at Mars Wrigley, “delivering not just significant cost savings and sustainability, but preparing our manufacturing operations for the future of work.”

Accenture and Mars have been trialling digital twins since late 2020. One experiment saw the technology applied to reduce instances of over-filling packages at one of its factories in Illinois, a common problem they were facing. Factory line operators were able to adjust the filling process to successfully counter the issue. The solution was then applied to its factories across the US, as well as its petcare business in Europe and China.

“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, MD at Accenture leading its digital twin work with Mars.

“While many companies are beginning to experiment with digital twins, what sets this project apart is the speed and scaling of the technology across Mars’ operations globally.”