109 MANU FAC TUR I NG Optimising oil and gas operations ExxonMobil is partnering with Microsoft to improve its analyses and enhance operational efficiencies at its Permian Basin acreage, making it the largest- ever oil and gas acreage to use cloud technology. The company’s XTO Energy subsidiary is applying Microsoft technologies including Dynamics 365, Microsoft Azure, machine learning and the internet of things, and expects to improve capital efficiency and support Permian production growth by as much as 50,000 oil-equivalent barrels per day by 2025. The partnership includes an integrated cloud environment that securely and reliably collects real-time data from oil field assets spanning hundreds of miles. As well as enabling ExxonMobil to make faster and better decisions, this could also further reduce leak detection and repair response times and strengthen XTO’s voluntary actions to manage methane emissions. Microsoft’s platforms, including Azure Data Lake, will enable ExxonMobil to rapidly incorporate third-party solutions at scale across the Permian. And with the additional layer of intelligent business applications such as Dynamics 365, ExxonMobil and XTO will have a complete, end-to-end view of the Permian operations. Driven by data insights Unilever has shifted from a project-based approach to a platform strategy to become driven by data insights. Digital twins of Unilever factories – enabled by Internet of things (IoT) and intelligent edge services in the Azure IoT platform – have already yielded positive results, from improving control of moisture levels in soap-making to achieving the most efficient batch time for shampoo or detergent. An interconnected system of tools enables support and collaboration between employees and factories. Microsoft Power BI, for instance, allows people to access the data they need, visualise it in whatever way works for them to solve the problem they’re facing, and create their own reports. It has helped to increase productivity by eliminating false or unimportant alerts on production lines. Microsoft PowerApps empowers employees to fix their own issues and build custom apps. And Microsoft 365 and communication tools such as Teams and Yammer enable over 155,000 employees worldwide to connect and share lessons and ideas. Unilever’s digital transformation also helps to support its commitment to sustainability. For example, a dedicated Teams community enables the company’s Dove soap factories to access energy usage data and share best practices for conserving energy. Flipping smart manufacturing upside-down Geesinknorba is one of Europe’s leading providers of refuse collecting vehicles and waste compactors. It has a broad portfolio of products, 99% of which are highly customised to customers’ needs – creating complex manufacturing processes. The company saw an opportunity to match its customer and product needs and intelligently control production. Working with Nimble Institute, Geesinknorba selected Bizagi’s intelligent process automation platform. The Microsoft Azure-native solution enabled the company to design, optimise and automate its processes by building model-driven process applications. The team used Bizagi to flip the Smart Factory concept on its head. Smart Units paired with tablets now navigate themselves through the production process and start different production steps simultaneously, taking into account the supply side, lead-time and capacity. Internet of things (IoT) sensors enable Geesinknorba to monitor processes throughout the factory, while sensing technology improves the efficiency and safety of self-driving vehicles used for material handling. IoT also enables collection vehicles to flag up when they need to come back to the factory for maintenance or if a fault occurs. Geesinknorba can now deliver products faster and meet the changing needs of customers. In just eight months, along with a set of other measures, the company has decreased its lead-time, improved production efficiency by 45% and increased production output by 40%.