News & Events

Monday 12 October, 2015

Technology alone cannot deliver the fourth industrial revolution

Ron Lewis, our Senior Vice President of Supply Chain, discusses the fourth industrial revolution following his participation in a panel discussion at the Financial Times’ Future of Manufacturing event last week. 

In the last few years, digital technologies such as big data, analytics, wireless communications and the Internet of Things have started to dramatically transform industrial processes – with the potential to drive what many are calling a “fourth industrial revolution.” And it’s true; every day, manufacturing companies in multiple sectors are using digital solutions to improve productivity, flexibility, sustainability and efficiency in their operations.  

So with digital offering huge potential for the sector, what does manufacturing 4.0 look like? 

Industry 4.0 is not just about technology, it’s about people 

Many people will say that this revolution, like those before it, will be technologically driven.  But while digital will help power change, I firmly believe that it is people that will make this revolution successful.  Without the skill, engagement and passion of our people, dynamic change will not be possible. 

Getting the right people into our business and keeping them is critical.  And that’s why we work so hard at CCE to ensure our workforce has the right mix of gender, age, ethnicity, culture – and also why we’re so passionate about attracting more young people into manufacturing careers. 

And the people outside our factories are just as important as those within the walls of our operations.  A sustainable future for the manufacturing sector will depend on how successfully we fit into the communities in which we exist, and whether or not we can help make a positive difference for them.

The factory of the future will be sustainable

The future of manufacturing will also be heavily dependent on its ability to be environmentally positive. Business has long been reliant on a plentiful supply of inexpensive natural resources, yet current consumption patterns are unsustainable as resource extraction now far exceeds the regenerative capacity of our planet. 

For manufacturing businesses like ours, this means the risk of higher commodity prices, increased volatility and greater concern over security of supply. We know that we must address these issues if we are to survive and prosper in the future.

It’s widely recognised that game-changing digital technologies will help deliver the sustainable factory of the future. 

Big data and the Internet of things (IOT) will help the manufacturing sector become more efficient, cost effective and responsive to customer preferences. Similarly, processes like additive manufacturing and further development of advanced robotics can be transformative.

Digital technologies will support new ways of working

Collaboration will become even more critical and I believe we will see more symbiotic relationships between companies and their supply chains. We used to live in a world where information was power.  Today, information has become commoditised – collaboration is power. 

For example, we established a joint venture called Infineo in France with PlastiPak. The project aims to improve the capacity for plastics reprocessing and to ensure that the increasing demand for recycled PET can be met. Indeed, when it comes to supporting a circular economy and developing a fully recyclable product, it is vital to look at your entire value chain. Today, this collaborative approach has boosted the capacity of PlastiPak’s existing reprocessing facility by 70% and the plant now recycles 20,000 additional tonnes of plastics annually.    

Resilience, the ability to adapt to change, will be key to future decision-making and in bringing disruptive technologies to life. The vast majority of sustainable projects involve an incremental cost to businesses. Being adaptable and persistent in finding new ways to create value both for the business and society is critical. 

So what will the factory of the future look like? It will be sustainable, digitally enabled and, most importantly, run by skilled and passionate people who are not afraid to do things differently. The journey towards sustainable manufacturing will require radical and disruptive thinking, building on the lean manufacturing focus of the past few generations.

Ron Lewis

Senior Vice President Supply Chain

Ron Lewis currently holds the position of Senior Vice President, Supply Chain at Coca-Cola Enterprises, Inc and is responsible in this capacity for leading their end-to-end Supply Chain of more than 6,000 employees across 17 manufacturing facilities in 7 European countries.

Prior to his current role, Ron held the position of Vice President, Procurement and Chief Procurement Officer of The Coca-Cola Company and was responsible for stewarding in excess of $38 billion in external spending across The Coca-Cola System.

In the past, Ron held the position of Senior Vice President, Coca-Cola Refreshments, leading their 7,000 employees across the Southeast Region in the US and prior to that was Vice President, Supply Chain for Coca-Cola Enterprises in the US.  He was also Vice President and Chief Procurement Officer for Coca-Cola Enterprises as well as President and CEO for Coca-Cola Bottlers’ Sales and Services LLC. Prior to these roles, he held various supply chain and procurement roles at Coca-Cola Enterprises in the United States and Europe. 

He has served as a Director of ZICO (a coconut water beverage company) Southeastern Container (a plastic bottle manufacturing company), Coca-Cola Supply (a shared supply chain services company) and Coca-Cola Bottlers Sales & Services (a sales, customer service and supply chain company).

In the community, he has represented Coca-Cola on the Board of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce and served as Director on the Board of the C5 Georgia Youth Foundation, a nonprofit organization that strives to support and inspire high-potential youth from risk-filled environments. 

Before starting his career with the Coca-Cola system, he was employed by Mars Inc. and Cargill Inc. in various supply chain, procurement, trading and risk management capacities.

Mr. Lewis received a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering from Montana State University and a Master of Business Administration from the J.L. Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University. Ron is married to Leanne, and they have three children.

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