Top Story

How Piramal Glass is using an IoT platform and RTMI to revolutionize specialty glass manufacturing

Deploys Microsoft’s Azure IoT platform to digitally transform its manufacturing operations. Improves visibility, quality and efficiency with real-time insights; lowers TCO by 70%. Reduces defect rate by 5%; sees 1% improvement in production efficiency

Think twice the next time you decide to throw away a perfume bottle. You’ve enjoyed the fragrance in it for months and probably did not take a second look at the bottle. But if you learn what goes into bottle manufacturing, you’ll consider it a work of art. The bottle is not made of ordinary commercial glass (like a beer bottle) – it’s made of specialty glass that use exquisite raw materials like lime, dolomite, soda, and cullet (broken glass), in addition to silca sand. It’s made in scorching furnaces that maintain a constant temperature of 1,500 degrees Celsius throughout the year. And it is made in carefully controlled and monitored environments, with precision manufacturing processes. Manufacturers aim to reduce wastage and increase the batch yield. But that’s not easy to do as glass manufacturing is a complex process with many interactive variables. Here’s the story of how Piramal Glass has achieved manufacturing excellence using digitally-enabled processes, with help from Microsoft.

Piramal Glass Private Limited is a global specialist in design, production and decoration of premium glass packaging (flaconnage) equipped with end-to-end glass packaging solutions for Pharmaceutical, Cosmetics & Perfumery, and Specialty Food & Beverage industries. It has a presence in over 50 countries under the globally recognized brand name of “Piramal Glass”. The company is the largest specialty glass player in Asia, and one of the fastest growing companies in the world.

Piramal Glass strives to become the world’s most preferred supplier of glass flaconnage through continuous value addition, superior quality and unmatched service. To achieve this, it has deployed Microsoft’s Azure IoT platform to digitally transform its manufacturing operations. It claims to have recovered the investment in technology in just 8 months.

“Of the top 20 perfume manufacturers in the world, 17 are our customers. Every third bottle of nail polish in the world uses our bottles,” said Vijay Shah, Director – Piramal Glass & Executive Director – Piramal Enterprises Ltd.

Piramal Glass began with pharmaceutical glass packaging and later moved on to cosmetics and perfumery. For the last 20 years it has been manufacturing elegant perfume bottles for brands like Dior, L’Oreal, Yves Rocher, Elizabeth Arden and others. According to Shah, Piramal is one of only four companies in the world that make Type-1 Borosilicate glass, a very high quality glass used for injectables.

With best in class manufacturing facilities and configuration of technology, design, and layout, Piramal Glass strives to meet and exceed its customers’ expectations. The Company is on a mission to become the world’s most preferred supplier of glass flaconnage through continuous value addition, superior quality and unmatched service.

Holistic Digital strategy

In 2017, Piramal realized that the only way to achieve this level of excellence was to embrace digital. But it wanted to do this in a holistic manner and use digital to transform not just manufacturing, but the whole company.

Piramal Glass Manufacturing
IMAGE CREDIT: Piramal Glass

“Around 2017 we decided to have a holistic digital strategy and roadmap. Running a mobile app or having something on the cloud is not digital transformation. We wanted to do it in a strategic manner,” said Poorav Sheth, Chief Digital Officer, Piramal Glass. “The biggest imperative for us was changing the culture of the organisation. And we wanted to educate our people (about digital).”

Sheth and his team created a digital roadmap. They conducted almost 35 roadshows across Piramals facilities, offices and manufacturing plants — to educate people on what is digital and how it would benefit their role and transform their function. Following that, they conducted almost 60 ideation workshops, with cross-function teams. They organized design thinking workshops — to discuss the challenges and how these could be solved with digital. And they identified 65 initiatives and prioritized these.

“We created a digital vision to create an insights driven organisation, led by customer centricity and operational excellence by using digital as a fabric. We are trying to become a change agent and trying to identify a new way of doing things and see how we can transform the entire business, and not just manufacturing,” said Sheth.

Poorav Sheth, Chief Digital Officer, Piramal Glass. IMAGE CREDIT: Microsoft
Poorav Sheth, Chief Digital Officer, Piramal Glass. IMAGE CREDIT: Microsoft

How Microsoft helped

Piramal Glass deployed Microsoft’s Azure IoT platform to digitally transform its manufacturing operations. It claims to have recovered the investment in technology in just 8 months.

An early adopter of the technology, Piramal Glass has currently implemented the solution, Real-Time Manufacturing Insights (RTMI), on 46 production lines across their four plants at Kosamba and Jambusar in Gujarat, India, Sri Lanka and the United States of America. The plants have an overall capacity of 1,375 tons per day, with 12 furnaces and 60 production lines, all of which run on a 24/7 basis.

The Azure IoT platform enabled Piramal Glass to connect and monitor their equipment to gain real-time visibility into operational data that was previously unavailable. The technology integration was designed for fast and easy set-up to rapidly showcase the results and build on its existing sensors, equipment, systems, and data.

Piramal Glass has leveraged IoT to get real-time visibility into its line manufacturing operations and to analyze production line losses at various stages. Using Azure IoT Hub, Microsoft helped Piramal Glass acquire data from sensors on production lines to identify quality parameters at each stage and get insights on line efficiencies in real-time. This resulted in improved production efficiency and cost reduction up to 70% as compared to a glass industry manufacturing execution system (MES).

“We are happy to have collaborated with Microsoft on our journey towards digital transformation and business critical future readiness. Glass manufacturing is a complex process with many interactive variables. Combining digital technologies with precision high-quality glass manufacturing, has helped us fortify our accelerated growth path,” said Shah.

The Azure IoT platform enabled Piramal Glass to connect and monitor their equipment to gain real-time visibility into operational data that was previously unavailable. The technology integration was designed for fast and easy set-up to rapidly showcase the results and build on its existing sensors, equipment, systems, and data.

Sashi Sreedharan, Managing Director, Microsoft India, said, “Microsoft is committed towards the technological advancement of the manufacturing sector in India. We are excited to partner with Piramal Glass as they create a strong foundation for driving transformational change. It is significant that Microsoft technology enabled plant operations to continue as usual during the rollout of the Azure IoT solution, ensuring no disruption to the core manufacturing and deep integration with critical business processes.”

L-R-Poorav Sheth, Vijay Shah, Virendra Chaudhari, Shailendra Miglani
L-R-Poorav Sheth, Vijay Shah, Virendra Chaudhari, Shailendra Miglani

To facilitate this transformation, Precimetrix, a Microsoft partner, brought in its Plant Monitoring System hosted on Microsoft Azure. The sensors on high speed conveyor lines were interfaced with data acquisition devices that record the key metrics, as the bottles move along the production line. This data is aggregated on an edge gateway and then pushed to Precimetrix’s Plant Monitoring System on the cloud.

A custom solution was developed on top of this platform to provide stage-wise losses, production reports, quality control workflows as well as role-specific KPIs on PCs and smartphones of plant personnel. Actionable alerts are sent through SMS, email and push notifications whenever there is an anomaly detected or the production efficiency drops. In summary, RTMI has democratized real-time information availability to all plant stakeholders, enabling them to take faster decisions.

Piramal Glass has progressed rapidly on its Digital Transformation journey and has made substantial investments in IoT as well as other digital technologies. While many of its digital initiatives started as experiments, a number of these have been scaled up, namely, computer vision to improve worker effectiveness, persuasive technologies to drive innovation, bots to enhance employee productivity & AI to create a manufacturing process Digital Twin.

IoT has reached an inflection point and is helping businesses improve operational efficiency and generate new business models from their existing assets and equipment. Microsoft believes that in the coming years, this will be the new normal across all industries and that companies will need to leverage IoT to maintain competitive advantage. Piramal Glass is committed to fast tracking its journey towards Industry 4.0 by leveraging Microsoft’s end-to-end IoT platform & Cognitive Services.

Tags

Brian Pereira

Brian Pereira is an Indian journalist based in Mumbai. He has 25 years of technology journalism experience, and he's well known in the Indian IT industry. He is the former Editor of CHIP and InformationWeek magazines in India and has written technology articles for India's leading newspapers groups such as The Times of India and Indian Express Newspapers. Brian also writes on Aviation, startups and covers topics directed at small and medium businesses. He also has event experience and once put together the conference program for CeBIT and INTEROP events in India. Email: brian9p@gmail.com Twitter: @brian9p Linkedin: https://in.linkedin.com/in/pereirabrian

Related Articles