Webinar: The Future of Industrial Networks in FMCG Companies

Updated: Feb 26

This was the first of our Q4-2020 webinar series: A vision on the future of FMCG companies from a global perspective, and how IIoT helps to address business goals.


Thursday, 26th of November. 16:00 to 18:00. Online Event.



The schedule for the day was:


  • IIoT Introduction: Julian Smith. How to achieve IIoT in the FMCG industry from Polestar's perspective, with a focus on cybersecurity. Avoiding downtime, preventing cyber-attacks, and embracing automation.

  • Cisco on IoT: Stephen Goodman. What Cisco brings with their comprehensive IoT and Cybersecurity solutions.

  • FANUC Europe: Craig Taylor. Maintaining production in and avoiding downtime from plant failures. Workforce automation for FMCG companies.

  • Whisky Tasting: Once Upon a Whisky. Enjoy a break while improving your whisky tasting skills and getting to know more about the whisky industry in the U.K.


Here you can see the full video of our webinar:


IIoT in the Fast Moving Consumer Goods Industry


There are many challenges we've had to overcome when integrating and controlling industrial environments such as the ones FMCG use to manufacture, not talking only about technologies but also people and processes.


In the industrial data space, the manufacturing vertical has shown the biggest increase in demand for new technologies, which turns it also into one of the most complex industries for IoT implementations, as the number of assets in a single factory can range from hundreds to thousands co-located in a very small physical area.


Industrial IT also presents a huge range of technologies. Some of these promise to deliver visibility across your entire production system. Still, if your IT | OT teams know where to start implementing them, it's not always going to be a smooth journey.


For managers, it becomes hard to realize the benefit of that new technology across operations, innovations and end-customer experience. Most manufacturers realize that they need to compete with the likes of Amazon who are moving through the supply chain from logistics into manufacturing themselves.


On the other side, FMCG customers are becoming more sophisticated in their buying habits and have higher expectations from the products they consume. So manufacturers need to step up to the challenge and build up their competencies in industrial digital technologies, investing in factory upgrades, and building new factories to keep efficient and competitive.


This is not a decision to ever be taken lightly, as there will be years before that return on investment is realized. Our approach is that companies should always remember that security plays a key role on guaranteeing connectivity, hence quality and efficiency; and that this is a process and not a product. It should be built in from the ground up.

We have some good examples and great success stories in the FMCG industry. We have supported major global brands into turning Industry 4.0 leaders. Reckitt Benckiser (a world's leading FMCG producer, with Dettol as their most iconic brand) is one of them. Together we planned and implemented an important IoT project, part of a global program to standardize their manufacturing environments to gain more visibility into production performance and improve quality whilst reducing logistics risks.


Massive amounts of data and insights from production were needed to achieve these objectives, but they also needed to improve security and resilience to deal with the increasing threats occurring everyday in internet connected environments.


Therefore, we brought in a specialist team to deploy Internet of Things focused solutions and Cyber-security systems. We designed the network architecture considering several of Cisco's security products to maximize RB's return on investment.


When it comes to putting the IT and OT worlds together, organizations usually, if not always, need assistance. Both areas typically have very different demands that has been placed upon them by managers. For instance, the OT area can have a target of 100M pounds in annual savings from costs, but the IT area might be looking for heavy investment do deply virtualization technologies. This was the case for RB. At the end of their process, and by the hand of Polestar, they managed to standardise 25 factories into 1 unified integrated supply chain for their global production system.


This also enabled them to put down their software stack. Instead of having over 400 software applications, they got down to under 50 apps.


The journey to achieve IIoT in manufacturing isn't plug and play just yet, and probably will be this way for a while. Organizations have got significant opportunities to get more productive and achieve less downtime through the use of insightful data coming from existing equipment, but typically their existing setups doesn't allow the monitoring of assets' availability in the factory floor.


This is due to internal OT and systems not being securely connected, they literally can't talk to each other to share critical production information. Another challenge is that quite often customers simply do not connect their assets externally, hoping that with no connectivity there will be no threats. Whereas nowadays, we know ho essential connectivity is to collect and transmit relevant data.


When they do, is often done in a very vulnerable way, because security risks haven't been understood or the systems were designed to be secure only from a general architecture perspective. Cyber attacks and ransomware demands on production services are becoming extremely common.



Several Fast Moving Consumer Goods manufacturers face these issues not only on the factory floor but also into the boardroom. Polestar have detected three primary challenges when implementing IIoT projects, which are Leadership & Governance, Upskilling, and Adoption.


  1. Leadership & Governance: Unless the business has a very clear operational technology strategy which has been clearly communicated to all the stakeholders, digital transformation projects may not be successful. We work with all key departments to make it happen and establish clear governance leadership and governance policies; we work with the automation. OT, IT, security and management teams, including directors, managers, engineers and operators to make the IIoT implementation project successful.

  2. Upskilling: We know developing new skills need to be led by existing teams is not an easy task. However, we believe that training makes the system easy to use and understand, while also reducing the perception of complexity. At the end, digitization doesn't occur without collaboration. We build the foundations for teams to work together in order to make operational technology work. We set up virtual teams consisting of departmental stakeholders, and recommend peers.

  3. Adoption: Lack of the right standards and too many superfluous standards across the business units, creates paralysis and prevents the adoption of Industrial Digital Technologies. And the great thing about standards - there are so many to choose from… One of the biggest barriers to adoption that we hear in talking with customers is concerns over Cyber Security although frameworks like IEC62443 and NIST directive now go a long way to providing guidance.


Companies can take advantage of all 3 of these solutions we offer to the primary challenges to implement their Industry 4.0 initiatives successfully. Nevertheless, you need to do it in the right order to realize that fully automated future. It's not easy to introduce control systems further down the line, or later on in the process. So you need to think of Industry 4.0 almost as if it's a closed loop process. For that, our IIoT Strategy consultancy will help your FMCG company walk through the IIoT journey in a seamless fashion.


Learn more about IIoT Strategy here.



Cisco on IIoT

(Coming soon...)


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