Poorav Sheth was one of the first CDOs appointed in the country. With stints in major manufacturing enterprises, Sheth brings the digital lessons learnt to Godrej & Boyce. In a conversation with DQDeepTech, Sheth, Chief Digital Officer for Godrej & Boyce, breaks down the important use cases across shopfloor, warehouse management achieved with DeepTech and technologies India Inc can lean on for cost effectiveness.
You were one of the first CDOs in the country. Tell us about your major successful projects and the outcomes of those.
At Godrej & Boyce, one of the most successful projects we undertook was a sales and distribution transformation program across the company by leveraging Salesforce and smart solutions for the field force. This has enabled our field force to be more productive and service customers better with actionable insights.
We have built connected, smart products across categories that leverage the power of IoT, cloud & analytics to provide next-level customer experience and better service. With multiple Digital interventions we have grown our D2C (direct-to-consumer) and eCommerce portfolio by personalizing the experience during the customer’s buying journey across channels.
In my earlier stint with Piramal Glass, I successfully scaled up their smart manufacturing capabilities across global operations, resulting in production efficiency and quality improvements. Our team successfully executed an AI-led transformation program resulting in over 10% improvement in profitability.
What is Godrej’s objective with digital? What gaps is it trying to close?
Godrej & Boyce’s digital transformation journey began way before the pandemic. Our entire digital transformation journey is based on four key themes – Customer Centricity, Connected Supply Chain, Operational Efficiency, and Next Generation Workplace.
With constantly evolving consumer demand, we aim to leverage digital to enable the business to become more agile & collaborative, manufacture products efficiently with top quality and delivering the product to the customer on time, thereby providing a superlative customer experience.
How are technologies working behind the scenes to ensure efficient manufacturing, shop floor, and warehouse management?
Technology is an integral part of all processes at Godrej & Boyce. Leveraging new-age technologies aid in raw material procurement, production planning, tracking factory capacities & job-loads, production reporting and asset-level planning to augment production & operational efficiencies.
While humans can deal with 3-4 variables at a time and process data manually, AI can look at dozens of criteria and variables to process the information. This greatly helps a production planner throughout the manufacturing process. We also have an AI engine that forecasts demand thus helping us fulfil the orders faster and maintain optimal inventory.
Our IoT-based Manufacturing System has enabled us to link, monitor, and control complex production systems and data flows. It has guaranteed that production procedures are carried out efficiently and effectively, resulting in increased productivity.
We have also been running predictive maintenance in our machines where we can predict failures beforehand. This has helped in reducing downtime substantially and made our manufacturing processes smarter.
As a result of all the technologies deployed, we have witnessed productivity enhancements of around 15-20%, enhanced quality and better fulfilment rates.
What are the challenges still associated with smart manufacturing and what are the alternatives?
Smart manufacturing has come a long way with rigorous and repetitive manual labour being replaced by smarter processes and robotics, increasing flow of data. With the quantum of incoming data, it is of utmost importance to analyse the data correctly to gain useful insights. With disparate equipment and systems prevalent at manufacturing sites, the challenge is to overcome the data siloes and improving data maturity. Only with rich, consolidated data will manufacturers be able to leverage the full power of AI-based tools that will augment humans on the shopfloor.
Further, with changing consumer behaviour and increasing demands for customizations, manufacturing complexity has increased multi-fold as the traditional bulk production has been replaced by single-piece flows. This has resulted in two key imperatives – dynamic planning and connected systems. Only with real-time visibility & control of the entire value chain will manufacturers be able to meet this dynamic, personalized demand.
Having said that, leveraging the right technology is the key to address all the challenges. For instance, by deploying IoT-enabled tools and systems at Godrej Interio, our customers have the freedom to design their own unique Modular Kitchens at our stores using integrated systems. Intelligent workflow systems works right from providing the pricing & BOQ in real-time to line-up of raw materials to packing & uniquely labelling the packages for dispatch to the customer, all while the timelines & live order status are visible to all in the execution chain. The outcome is a unique, factory-finished Modular Kitchen, that is manufactured with least wastage, utmost efficiency & in the best time possible.
How data and insights derived from it aid the process?
With data from our smart manufacturing systems, we have been able to take real-time corrective actions, improve quality and provide predictive insights to the operator. Our demand planning system helps us study seasonality & trends and forecast demand, helping us in production planning.
With AI optimizers recommending planning schedules to the planner, we are able to dynamically schedule production jobs. With IoT-enabled equipment, we have real-time visibility of efficiency of our machines and predict breakdowns. We are also able to monitor and control our energy utilization based on real-time data.
With intelligent systems, we are able to ensure optimum stock at our warehouses, loading the products on our trucks to ship the products, while the customer has full visibility of where their order is in the supply chain.
We also use the data and insights to understand the consumer sentiments, propensity, buying patterns, and segmentation. As a result, we are better equipped to provide our customers with best-in-class products that serve their needs.
What are some of the learnings from your stint as a CDO at major enterprises?
One of my biggest learning as a CDO has been that while it is imperative to have leadership buy-in, Digital Transformation cannot succeed without business stakeholders being an integral part of the team, jointly owning targets for business impact. The Digital way of working, culture, mindset and technology awareness is key to successful Digital Transformation across the organization.
Hence, at Godrej & Boyce, we have implemented the Digital Champions Program where we upskill our workforce on areas such Demystifying Digital, Technologies 101, Design Thinking, Change management, Data Science and many other meta skills required for the Digital way of working.
What new-age technologies can India Inc apply to enterprises for productivity, customer experience, and cost-effectiveness?
While companies will increasingly deploy new-age technologies like AI for their operations, how they leverage AI will determine their position as a leader. IoT for connected products and shopfloors will change the way companies leverage real-time data to make better products.
Intelligent automation technologies like RPA and Chatbots can streamline and automate processes and remove friction from the value chain.
For B2C companies, technologies that will enable omni-channel experience and personalized experiences will be the biggest differentiator for customer loyalty.
It will be imperative for the businesses to identify the right combination of technologies to be deployed across their business operations to improve manufacturing efficiency, workforce productivity and consumer centricity.