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AI is integrated in our DnA i.e. Digital n Analytics Strategy and Roadmap: Sudip Mazumder, Global Chief Digital & Information Officer at PGP Glass

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In an exclusive interview, Sudip Mazumder, Global Chief Digital & Information Officer at PGP Glass, shares insights into the company’s recent digital and technology initiatives, their impact on the industry, and the strategic roadmap for integrating AI into the organisation’s IT infrastructure. Additionally, Mazumder sheds light on the traction for generative AI in the industry and provides a glimpse into the upcoming digital initiatives planned for the next six months to one year. Join us as we delve into the future of glass manufacturing and the transformative role of technology in shaping it.

Can you share some of the recent important digital or technology initiatives that your company has undertaken and their impact?

PGP Glass is the global leader when it comes to design, engineering, manufacturing and delivery of high-quality glass containers used in food & beverages, cosmetics and perfumeries, pharma bottles and vials. Being a digital and IT leader, the industry position gives me more internal challenges to live up to the expectations of internal stakeholders as well as the market.

We keep identifying initiatives and experimenting with new technologies or deploying the technologies in newer ways to solve business problems, returns as a common denominator, which will move the needle of capability, skills and experience towards the positive side.

We’ve embarked on several key initiatives to drive innovation and efficiency within our operations. Firstly, we’re harnessing the power of AI and machine learning to analyse data and optimise various aspects of our processes, such as productivity, energy usage, loading capacity, and packaging efficiency. Additionally, we’re committed to sustainable practices with a significant push towards green manufacturing, achieved through the digitalisation of over 400 shopfloor logbooks. Furthermore, we’re expanding our capabilities in computer vision technology to enhance our operational insights and decision-making. To ensure our infrastructure is ready for the future, we’re modernising our IT network and switches to accommodate the anticipated surge in digital data flow reliably. Finally, cybersecurity remains a top priority, with a focus on IT/OT security measures and network segmentation to safeguard our operations against potential threats. These initiatives collectively underscore our dedication to innovation, sustainability, and operational excellence.

How do you foresee AI impacting the glass manufacturing industry?

AI is a broad term. It has turned the world upside down in the last 5-6 years. We started with advanced analytics and ML models and now we have graduated to GenAI & LLM models and started talking about AGI. Companies across the world are finding their own ways of adopting AI in different areas of businesses.

Within the realm of container glass manufacturing, a subset of the broader glass manufacturing sector, I perceive numerous opportunities to make significant impacts, many of which resonate with the challenges faced by organisations like PGP. Firstly, there’s immense potential for design innovation, with generative AI poised to revolutionise the creation of never-before-seen designs. Secondly, enhancing manufacturing efficiency remains a focal point, encompassing areas such as planning, energy optimisation, defect reduction, and maximising throughput, all of which are pivotal in AI and machine learning implementations across industries. Thirdly, optimising supply chain efficiency presents various opportunities, including intelligent procurement, route optimisation, and understanding green channels, with generative AI leveraging core systems of records to drive improvements. Moreover, GenAI stands to elevate employee efficiency significantly, surpassing previous technological advancements and meeting expectations more effectively. Lastly, AI’s capability to differentiate products holds promise for enhancing product differentiation, thereby adding value and fostering trust among OEM manufacturers. These avenues collectively underscore the transformative potential AI brings to container glass manufacturing and beyond.

How do you plan to integrate AI strategically into the organisation’s IT roadmap, and what challenges do you foresee in this implementation?

Fortunately, AI is being pursued since 2020, in our organisation, creating multi-million USD equivalent savings, year on year. It is integrated in our DnA i.e. Digital n Analytics strategy and roadmap. I am glad to mention that our CEO took time out exclusively to understand the DigIT roadmap 2023-25 and emphasises the cutting-edge digital technology needs for the industries, especially manufacturing. I am certainly not trying to position the power of the CEO but the power of intent, the words and the contagion effect that position can create is more important. Honestly, the challenge is balancing our ambition, skills and hunger across functions. Everyone wants to be high on digital. Skills i.e. the do-ability and hunger i.e. sense of urgency that make one company differentiate from another and stamps itself as a Digital Leader.

How do you see the traction for GenAI in the industry?

Already mentioned in a way in one of your questions. GenAI will be everywhere. We have implemented Microsoft CoPilot as an Early Adopter Program. CoPilot is nothing but transforming the way we used to create, format, modulate, review, find answers, collate, summarise, collaborate and so on. We encourage all to go to AI engines for images and create images for presentation or documentation. We are doing prompt engineering to do market research. Along with Microsoft, we are coaching and hand holding our employees to use copilot effectively to unlock productive time. These are a few examples of AI tsunami in the industry. The more I mention the more will be copied by presentation. Therefore, the challenge of AI will be how we protect IP’s in future, not necessarily in the form of documents but also embedded once in our culture, skills, processes and retain leadership in business and technology.

In the next six months to one year, what are some of the new digital or technology initiatives planned?

Very interesting question and I need to be careful in divulging my strategy, at the same time, protecting it. Migration to cloud was part of our journey in 2020-21 when we made ourselves cloud native. System of records, led by SAP S4 HANA, migrated to cloud and digital / IoT / analytics workloads were already on it. As we know that SAP itself is thrusting itself into modernity, we are assessing if to RISE with them to leverage the future of SAP. This reminded me of the advert of one of top consumer goods brands ‘Samay ke saath chalo’. This is not certainly going to be just a migration but also how to build on SAP Generative AI story.

Another area of strategic focus will be Databricks Delta Late Architecture that we are migrating right now on Azure. The new architecture, capability of Delta Lake will be key to our next trajectory of our effort for AI use cases. Last, but the most important, is GenAI BOTs democratisation across functions to be able to extend it to our customers, suppliers, partners and employees. Latter is an ongoing process and has been deployed with mixed success.

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