Volume 4 Issue 2 February 2022
In this Issue
Welcome to Industree 4.0 for February 2022, exclusively sponsored by SAP.

By Kai Aldinger, Global Lead for Paper and Packaging, SAP
2022 Global Supply Chains: Four Trends That Will Shape the Future of the Pulp & Paper Industry
Do you remember the supply shortages of toilet paper during the last 2 years? For many of us, this was certainly a new and drastic experience that dramatically demonstrated our dependence on functioning supply chains. Suddenly the risks and shortfalls in our global supply chains have been front and center in presidential briefing rooms, company boardrooms, and even family dining rooms. Supply chains are now recognized as central to business survival, success, and growth, rather than an opportunity to just reduce costs. 

After the first few months of 2022, the uncertainties for the next 12 months seem to be getting even bigger rather than smaller. On top of the rapid changes due to the Covid 19 variants, there have been dramatic fluctuations in energy and pulp prices with massive implications for production and logistics costs along the supply chain. This is forcing companies in the paper and packaging industry to pass on their rising costs to their customers or, where this is not possible, to consider cutting production or deliveries in extreme cases. In combination with other factors, this will probably initially lead to further uncertainty before the "new reality" begins to ease.  

For me, it comes down to 4 main themes. Resiliency, Sustainability, Visibility and Technology.

Resiliency – As supply chain risks continue to flare up

For the past 20 months, the word that everybody is using to describe what is needed has been resiliency.

Experts predict continued disruptions in the short term, with challenges around transportation, labor shortages, and supply and demand imbalances. According to a survey from the Wall Street Journal, about 45% of economists believed that it would take until the second half of 2022 for there to be improvement. 

To increase resiliency across global supply chains companies will need to rebalance on-shore, near-shore and off-shore strategies for manufacturing locations. As they’ve been doing for the past two years, they’ll have to keep identifying alternate sourcing strategies to reduce dependencies on individual suppliers.

Inventory optimization strategies will continue to be crucial, helping decision-makers identify key materials, intermediates, and products, and determine how much and where to store them across the supply chain. Organizations will also need to improve collaboration and increase visibility with suppliers, logistics service providers, contract manufacturers and other key trading partners.

Sustainability is the challenge of the 2020s

Climate change, circular economy, ESG and sustainability have all become business priorities over the past few years, and our supply chains sit right in the middle of these challenges, both as a major contributor to the problems, and as a great area of focus where we can take action to address the problems. 

However, there’s a gap between sustainable mission statements and the ability to carry them out. This was a major finding from an Oxford Economics survey of worldwide supply chain decision makers across industries: 88% have either created a clear mission statement around sustainability or they're in the process of writing one, but only 52% have put those words into action and reduced their shipping miles.

What’s more, less than half of those respondents said they had significant visibility into their own sourcing of sustainable products. And only 21% had complete visibility into their supplier sourcing of sustainable products.

As environmental, social and governance (ESG) initiatives continue to be a corporate priority in 2022, companies will look to their supply chains for answers. With major consumer brands reviewing their entire supply chains from a sustainability perspective, this will also have an impact on companies in the paper and packaging industry, but also on low-density products such as tissue.

Visibility drives resiliency and sustainability

The old saying goes, “you can't manage what you can’t measure”. How can we become more resilient to changes across the supply chain, or meet sustainability goals, if we do not have the data to make informed decisions?

In 2022 there will be a major focus on improving visibility to collect, consolidate and consume data and insights in real time from across the supply chain.

In the production of paper and packaging products, huge amounts of data are produced at the operational level. Using this data, people can determine how production and quality are performing, measure carbon emissions, see if they require maintenance, and so much more. Add to this the improved demand and customer data available from sentiment analysis, and social media, and environmental data such as traffic and weather patterns, and we have a real-time, 360-degree view of the supply chain.

Technology provides the data and tools

Industry 4.0 is expected to ramp up in 2022 as machine learning and AI use volumes of IoT-based and social media data from people, devices, assets, products, and vehicles across the supply chain to automate decisions and processes.  

Meantime, predictive analytics will empower employees to make more informed, real-time decisions, and drive new business models.
From smart factories featuring 5G, greater connectivity and enhanced AI solutions, to smart products and assets across the supply chain, Industry 4.0 has a lot to offer companies who have invested in these technologies.

The coming year will bring greater focus on companies using Industry 4.0 within their factories, across the supply chain of smart assets, and into the hands of consumers and customers leveraging the smart products and devices it enables.

Technology will also help alleviate worker shortages and improve retention by improving the productivity and decision making of existing employees and attracting new talent with state-of-the-art tools.

And as the degree of automation increases, it frees up the workforce from repetitive tasks, and allows them to focus on more complexity problems and decisions that required human interactions. The last few months, which have been shaped by COVID, have also shown that this also makes remote working and collaboration feasible.

One thing is clear. Supply chains have had major challenges and been in the spotlight for the past 20 months, and they will continue to do so well into 2022.

To learn more about how organizations can drive resilient and sustainable supply chains in times of disruption, check out this recent Oxford Economics research: The Sustainable Supply Chain Paradox.

Stop calling everything AI
By Pat Dixon, PE, PMP

Vice President of Automation, Pulmac Systems International (pulmac.com)

You see that a lot of my articles reference other articles in IEEE Spectrum magazine. This is another.

In the September 2021 issue, an article caught my eye entitled “Stop Calling Everything AI, Machine-Learning Pioneer Says”. The article is an interview of Michael I Jordan, one of the world’s leading authorities on machine learning (not the basketball player). Jordan says in the article:

  • “People are getting confused about the meaning of AI in discussions of technology trends – that there is some kind of intelligent thought in computers that is responsible for the progress and which is competing with humans. We don’t have that, but people are talking as if we do.”

Jordan says the current state of computing is nowhere near the level of human intelligence. That means that some of the capabilities of technologies in our industry labelled as AI are being oversold and overpromised. Also, concerns that AI will replace human labor are very premature.

This has been an issue I have addressed in my previous articles. There is a concern that many investments in our industry have unreasonable expectations because we have not defined terms and cannot communicate effectively. Terms like AI, machine learning, digital twin, asset management, and MES have been very loosely applied to many offering in industry. Do you actually know what you are getting when you purchase any of these?

Someday AI may have all the capabilities you see in movies. Right now, the AI investments you make are not going to deliver those capabilities. There are clear benefits to applications of these technologies, and they can deliver big returns, but only if the true capabilities are understood.
Robotics Among Us
Servi Robot
Just a couple of weeks ago, Laura and I decided we needed to escape the brutal winter in Atlanta (that's a joke) and go to Florida for a few days. Within walking distance of our hotel in Dunedin, there was a typical breakfast/lunch restaurant.

Benedicts, as it was called, looked normal enough for such an establishment. However, it had a device that caught my eye. There was a serving robot at work alongside the waitstaff. It is a product of a company called Bear Robotics. Called "Servi" it uses Lidar technology (much like Roomba) to move from kitchen to addressable table locations with trays of food, drinks, and so forth. See the image of Servi at the upper right--it is about 120 cm tall. Once it detected that the food had been removed, it automatically goes back to the kitchen for another load. It did this easily and smoothly, dodging waitstaff, patrons and furniture, including chairs which were never in the same place for long. Everyone seemed to interact with it easily and being Florida, this was a geriatric crowd.

Always thinking about the pulp and paper industry, I could see an immediate application bringing small parts and tools from the maintenance shop or storeroom to the paper machine, even in its relatively light weight form designed for restaurants. A more robust version could work alongside maintenance crews in any mill environment.

I have not explored the pricing, but my thinking is that if this can be cost justified in a restaurant, an industrial version should be an easy expenditure for a maintenance force to undertake.
AI Takes Manufacturing Beyond Industry 4.0
By Rob Speigel
Industry 4.0 organized assets on the shop floor and relieved much of the dirty and dangerous physical labor in the plant. Artificial intelligence (AI) is going further. These software systems are beginning to replace some of the human decision-making. The idea is that AI can make decisions based on far more data than a human brain can manage.
Why Top-Down Embracement and Commitment to Industry 4.0 is Necessary
By Bill Boucher
Manufacturers have become technology companies first. The dependency on automation, robotic processes and AI has emerged as the price of entry for the next manufacturer.
Using IoT Sensors to Improve Productivity in Manufacturing
IOT for All
The global IIoT market is estimated to reach $103.38 billion by 2026 as IoT devices are becoming more affordable and more manufacturers are investing in smart factory technology. One of the critical components of a smart factory is the sensors. IoT sensors are paramount for collecting essential information and sending data to the cloud for analysis in manufacturing. By analyzing data compiled from the sensors, businesses can create solutions that improve productivity, avoid costly unplanned downtime, and reduce the expense of manufacturing.
Going beyond buzzwords in the Industrial IoT
IOT.Business News
There is a lot to gain from diving deeper into the Industrial IoT. This huge topic requires some navigation. Avnet provides resources to help engineers find the right solution for their current and future design objectives.

Industree 4.0 is exclusively sponsored by SAP