PGP Glass (formerly Piramal Glass) has been a front runner in the glass industry in its application of digtal technology within its manufacturing facilities. Its recently appointed Chief Digital & Information Officer, Sudip Mazumder, discusses the company’s future digital plans.

Can you tell us a little more about what the role will entail?

First of all we have changed our name from Piramal Glass to PGP Glass Private Limited after moving into the portfolio of Private Equity firm Blackstone.

The Global CDIO (Chief Digital & Information Officer) role is quite unique. Many companies are keeping the CIO (Chief Information Officer) and CDO (Chief Digital Officer) position separate or ‘D’ role implicitly being added to the CIO role. In PGP Glass, formerly Piramal Glass, we recognise both are important, the role must evolve to an explicitly called out as CDIO. It is a message to the internal employees as well as external stakeholders on our intended transformation towards being digitally enabled next gen organisation. As the name, role has to manage both conventional IT elements with enterprise software, digital estate being built including old and new sets of IT and Digital infrastructure in a secured environment.

Have you ever had a role such as this before? Did you work in the glass industry before this role or are you new to the sector?

Yes I have had such a role of IT, Digital and Innovation combined but not in the glass industry.

Tell us more about some of PGP Glass’s current digital solutions?

PGP Glass has implemented multiple Industry 4.X technologies, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR), Extended Reality (XR), Natural Language Processing robot (NLP BOT), Blockchain across value chain from sales & marketing, procurement, manufacturing, Quality, warehouse & supply chain and HR (Pic 1).

What digital providers has the company worked with in the past?

There are many digital service providers that we at PGP Glass worked with in the past and currently engaged. The providers include some of the global names in digital and consulting domain. We also have a track of working with start-up companies having brilliant solutions and differentiators with boutique solutions.

In the strategy space we worked with Wipro and in Advanced Analytics we worked with McKinsey & Co. Our manufacturing 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR) solution is built on Microsoft Azure and provided by Websym, a startup from India.

How does PGP Glass’s digital offering compare to other industries or companies where you have previously worked?

To be honest, I worked with much larger size companies. Some of them approached digital in a smaller way and some them did keep no stone unturned and were able to publish their internal case studies with reputed publications like Harvard Business School.

PGP Glass initially started pragmatic and small; but on the way gained huge confidence to take it to hyper scale by choosing Advanced Analytics based approach, deploying 100+ Advanced Analytics models at the shop floor, inhouse Data Scientists, Data Engineers, Data Architect, Translators and lastly Citizen Data Scientists. As an early adopter of technology, PGP Glass deployed Microsoft’s Azure IoT platform to digitally transform its manufacturing operations by implementing Real-Time Manufacturing Insights (RTMI) solutions, on its production lines across all four plants at Kosamba and Jambusar in Gujarat, India, Sri Lanka and the United States of America.

Do you believe digital technology can help glass companies achieve manufacturing efficiencies? Can digital technology be also used to improve a company’s environmental output for example?

Without an iota of doubt! The amount of data that glass companies can capture through various sensors, Programmable Logic Controllers (PLC) and Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA), from its end to end manufacturing operations, no wonder we keep improving our manufacturing efficiencies. The digital approach gave us 10X improvement compared to traditional method.

Glass industry, as everyone knows, is a high energy consuming industry. A digital and analytics based approach can certainly reduce energy consumption to a great extent. Culletisation can boost circular economy and enhance the sustainability agenda of the industry. We need to inform the common people that glass is 100% recyclable material.

What was the appeal of this role at PGP Glass? And how have you settled into the job so far?

The first appeal was of course the digital transformation which has been my first choice over the last six years having delivered conventional IT over two decades. However, after becoming a Blackstone portfolio company, I have got a challenge once again, in the conventional IT, but of different flavour i.e. demerging the system, infrastructure, contracts of the entity from the Piramal group which used to own the company.

Can you indicate what your plans are for the company in terms of digital technology? How much further can digital technology be used in a glass factory?

Some plans should be kept under the wrap to retain the competitive edge. However, data driven approach, ROI based investments are key to add value to the company through digital. This helps in breaking the stereotype of ‘IT as a cost centre’ which is unfortunately is still in the minds of many across industries.

There is no limit to do more digitally enabled business in the glass industry. A combination of sensors with video analytics and advanced analytics will open new avenues of improvement. New product development also will bring in multiple technologies from other industries such as healthcare. Nano technologies on glass manufacturing can open up new dimensions.

What will a glass factory look like in, say, five years’ time? Will even more digital technology be integrated into the factory?

Five years down the road it will cleaner, digitalised and more intelligent AI enabled factory, interconnected and a safer place. I am sure that the intelligent glass bottle is not far away which will do wonders for the industry in many ways.

PGP Glass, Mumbai, India