IIoT, Smart Connected Assets, and the Pulp & Paper Industry
Can you imagine the potential cost savings and operational efficiency to be gained by having a "smart" reel in a 7x24 operation like pulp & paper? In this post, I'll discuss how the the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and Smart Connected Assets are poised to make this a reality.
I've spoken recently about why you should invest in
Smart Connected Assets broadly, and
asset performance management (APM) in both the oil & gas and mining industries more specifically, but this week's post is about the pulp & paper and forest product industry, a sector I've known as intimately as any.
I spent a quarter of my working career directly in the forest product and pulp & paper industry, and have worked with both Weyerhaeuser and Scott Paper Company. I've also spent several years on the vendor side serving the industry, and have seen it weather some very tight economic periods. Science and technology are some of the tools the industry has used to survive in one that is perennially plagued by extremely tight margins, a variable raw material supply chain, the need to run many operations 7x24, and highly capital intensive. This post looks at how the industry can leverage IIoT in general and Smart Connected Assets specifically, to continue to grow despite myriad pressures.
Forest Products and Pulp & Paper Industry Challenges
Forest product and pulp & paper, while often operating elements of a single company, are very different from each other in their very nature with forest products being a discrete manufacturing operation and a supplier to the pulp side of the industry, and pulp & paper being more of a batch or continuous process manufacturing business. They both are asset intensive, albeit on different scales, but have different operating models. Pulp & paper is typically a 7x24 continuous process operation with costly downtime, high volumes, and subject to global commodity pricing. Forest products is typically more shift work with maintenance downtime available and economics tied more to regional construction and building cycles. Both industries operate on narrow margins and cost of production is a key contributor to profitability. One way to gain share in the sector is to provide value-added services that competitors cannot offer.
Taking Smart Connected Assets to a Whole New Level
At LNS Research we have spent a lot of time talking about how Smart Connected Assets enable much higher levels of reliability and hence quality, safety, environmental performance, energy efficiency, and productivity by leveraging APM. In the paper industry Smart Connected Assets takes on a whole new meaning. With IIoT technology you can have a "smart" reel of paper talk to the slitter/winder bringing trim optimization to a whole new level. By knowing the exact profile of the paper on the reel, the sheeting or roll winding operations can produce rolls or pallets targeted to specific buyers based on a specific profile. Likewise, if the data can be subdivided to the roll/unit level and then provided with that unit to the customer it makes further processing that much more efficient and provides a value-add that differentiates the supplier in a highly commoditized market.
With paper having so many quality variables (basis weight, moisture, opacity, brightness, caliper, ash, etc.) being able to have the exact profile enables a printer to produce higher quality pieces or a packaging company to produce better containers. It not only provides differentiation, but the cost of claims drops to almost nothing in this environment as the supplier can invoice based on exactly the conformant material shipped instead of invoicing on bulk amounts and then refunding based on customer-discovered shortfalls.
Traditional Value Propositions Not Trivial
The traditional value propositions of Smart Connected Assets in the pulp & paper industry are not trivial either. Sheet breaks due to equipment performance issues or other quality problems that result from out-of-specification performance are an expensive cost in the industry as well. Smart Connected Assets can improve reliability, which drives quality and regulatory compliance on multiple fronts, all reducing the operational costs. With energy being a major cost factor in many paper production processes, followed by environmental compliance, APM enabled by the IIoT promises to deliver lower costs with higher yields. The IIoT has much to offer the industry, and as equipment replacement or modernization initiatives occur the pulp & paper side of the business should only invest in equipment that is IIoT ready.
Forest Products Companies
Also Beneficiaries of the IIoT
It's safe to say that the forest products side of the industry stands to gain significant cost advantages from the adoption of IIoT related technology. This applies whether we are talking about Smart Connected Assets related to the operation of the fiber harvesting side of the business improving safety and lowering maintenance costs, or the operation of conversion facilities like sawmills or panel plants. With poorly performing machinery, one of the greatest contributors to product quality variation and safety exceptions in the solid wood side of the industry is the ability to operate closer to specification.
Dan Miklovic joined LNS Research in May of 2014 and is now a Principal Analyst with his primary focus being research and development in the Asset and Energy Management practices. Dan has over 40 years of experience in manufacturing IT, R&D, engineering, and sales across several industries.
Getting to Know Your Co-Bots:
Humans' Role in Industry 4.0
Image: PHOTOCREO Michal Bednarek/Shutterstock.com
It's the stuff of science fiction: Smart, super-strong robots infiltrate human homes and workplaces. While we most certainly already live in the future, smart manufacturing - or Industry 4.0 - is creating a climate quite different from that of sci-fi AI terrors.
What Is Industry 4.0?
Call it smart manufacturing, call it
the digital revolution - however it's branded, this sweeping transformation of modern industry leaves manufacturers a simple choice. Jump on board, or be left behind.
The new technologies, networks, data, and smart capabilities available to power today's facilities are creating an entirely new climate for every inch of the manufacturing process.
Working With Robots
But won't this new technology replace human workers?
In a word, no.
As of September 2018, the World Economic Forum forecasted that by 2022, robotics and AI technology will actually be on pace to create over 130 million jobs. In fact, the concept of humans and machines working in symbiotic harmony lies at the heart of Industry 4.0's projected success. Plus, they're kinda cute.
People's Role in the New Workforce
By leveraging the power of smart manufacturing, the workforce is facing a huge opportunity: upskilling. This means that human skills are not under threat. In fact, they are more important than ever. The human worker, freed from more tedious jobs, can now acquire more training, taking on new responsibilities and learning new skills.
Outfitted with infinitely more sophisticated resources, we can now leverage time more effectively and take advantage of new opportunities, new perks, and a whole new quality of life.
here to read the entire article by Nicole Garman.
Nicole Garman is an independent writer who has served as a contributor for Thomas since 2015. She loves getting to the heart of modern industry in her work for Thomas Insights. Based deep in the farming and manufacturing region of Pennsylvania, she pursues work in tourism, marketing, and lifestyle writing in addition to her more technical specialties.
Why 5G will supercharge
We are now reaching the critical stage of the roll-out of Industry 4.0 in the UK. With the announcement of the first 'Made Smarter' pilot scheme in the North West, the pressure to encourage the uptake of digital technology in manufacturing supply chains is being ramped up.
The benefits of Industry 4.0 are clear, but there remain some formidable barriers in the way of networking wider supply chains, both direct and indirect.
In the future, as manufacturing becomes increasingly servitised the ability to offer software and data analytics capability, augmented reality and predictive maintenance through AI, to name just three potential examples, will become more and more important.
Mazak's Worcester HQ, where it is experimenting with 5G enabled preventative and assisted maintenance technique
All of this will require a level of cooperation between suppliers and end-users which is not there at the moment. Specifically, the ability of OEMs to gain access to manufacturer IT networks for the purpose of fault-finding, remote monitoring and assisting with technical support remains limited.
We may talk about the remote monitoring of machinery, but the truth is that many industry leaders I talk to remain deeply reluctant to allow suppliers access to IT networks or the data to enable them to optimise machinery, driving improved productivity and efficiency.
Worries about viruses have morphed into deeper concerns about cyber-security and the potential for hacking. The downside risks of opening up IT networks to suppliers, understandably outweigh the upside in the minds of IT Directors. The capability is there, but the will is lacking.
In the future, I believe that 5G will become
the price of entry for Industry 4.0
At Mazak, we are interested in 5G for a multitude of reasons, but the key one is its security potential.
5G enables 'network slicing', a form of virtual network architecture, with a single network capable of being 'sliced' into multiple virtual networks. Each 'slice' can be customised with further virtual private networks to meet the needs of specific applications, services and devices. When used in combination, 'slicing' and virtual private network technology could enable a machine tool provider to allow customers and other suppliers, such as automation or metrology providers, access to their 'slice' via an app. This would provide a secure area in which information can be stored, shared and analysed.
However, most importantly, each virtual network or 'slice' will be isolated. As such, if cyber-security is breached in one 'slice', the attack is contained and cannot spread.
This in turn will generate a level of confidence amongst manufacturers and, crucially, its IT gatekeepers, which is not there at the moment.
Mazak has been at the forefront of the Worcestershire
LEP's 5G Test Bed, along with QinetiQ and Worcester, Bosch Group; the only test bed in the UK to focus on Industry 4.0.
Our belief is that 5G offers a tantalising glimpse of how one of Industry 4.0's biggest barriers can be broken down. The ultimate goal must be for the security and the platform to be so good that, effectively, the IT Director takes himself out of the decision.
The potential for 5G to unlock servitisation is enormous. In the future, I believe that 5G will become the price of entry for Industry 4.0 with IT Directors waving through network access privileges with the words, "That's fine with me, you're 5G enabled."
5G networks can help breach the last great barrier to Industry 4.0 and accelerate the servitisation of manufacturing writes Marcus Burton, non-executive Director of Yamazaki Mazak UK.
Next-gen sensor and IoT technology from Molex revolutionizes Georgia-Pacific's headquarters
Molex LLC is an official collaborator for Georgia-Pacific's (GP) Atlanta headquarters redesign. Molex innovations will enable the iconic office tower to become smarter, more productive and more efficient, allowing them to achieve optimal integration, functionality, cost, and efficiency among the various systems throughout each floor - lighting, HVAC, audio/visual and room scheduling systems.
Georgia-Pacific selected Molex based on its extensive expertise in digital building transformation capabilities and the versatility of the Molex system as a cornerstone of the iconic building IoT foundation. For example, the use of occupancy sensors and temperature sensors integrated into Molex's connected lighting system are also used by the scheduling system, HVAC, and AV to offer a purposeful automation and user-based response. The interconnected system allows the company to collect accurate, real-time data to better understand how the space is utilized, improve employee productivity and satisfaction, and maximize their real estate investment.
Leading industrial nations invest to try to increase advanced manufacturing and innovation to catch up in a free-market world. One common vision for these investments has been Industry 4.0. In short can this topic be described as the internet moving into the industry. The concept is relatively new and has become one of the most discussed topics during the last couple of years in many manufacturing conferences. However, the industry is so far lacking a clear definition of the concept, and much of the focus is on laboratory experiments rather than industrial applications. The research that has been conducted so far has not involved the process industry, where this thesis will operate.
The purpose of this study is to contribute to the understanding of how Industry 4.0 can be related to the pulp and paper industry by contextualizing the concept, and function as a "door-opener" for further research. Potentials, sustainability aspects and a concrete example has been used to comprehend this. The study has been designed with a qualitative approach through semi-structured interviews at the specific case company Stora Enso, Skoghall. As the concept of Industry 4.0 not yet has an explicit definition the start of the thesis was therefore to create a theoretical framework of the theory to relate to during the rest of the study.
The findings of the research show that Industry 4.0 in the pulp and paper industry focuses on Availability through possibilities of prediction and response improvement. The concept should emphasis on keeping the production ongoing with fever break-downs and increased Quality of the products. Communication improvements will be essential in reaching the new industry level, with connecting the whole plant as a crucial part. The thesis contributes with a first insight to what Industry 4.0 will mean to the pulp and paper industry and how it contextualizes in the sector.
here to access the full case study by
* International Paper reduced fossil fuel use by 40% between 2005 and 2015 in their mills. IP has an excellent corporate energy program with strong support by top management and dedicated funds for cost reduction.
* Graphic Packaging participated in the Department of Energy (DOE) Save Energy Now program and reduced total energy use in their mills by over 25% between 2006 and 2016.
* Several paper mills in Wisconsin have achieved significant energy use reductions with technical assistance and financial incentives from Focus on Energy and DOE. Some paper mills would have shut down without implementing recommended energy reduction projects. Focus on Energy is Wisconsin utilities' statewide energy efficiency and renewable resource program funded by the state's investor-owned energy utilities and participating municipal and electric cooperative utilities.
On the other hand, high energy consumption and cost have been key factors in some paper mills being unable to sustain profitable operation. The fossil fuel energy spike in 2008 resulted some mills seeing steam cost over $15 per 1,000 pounds and elevated electricity rates. One mill evaluated in New England in 2008 was using number 6 fuel oil and steam cost was $25 per 1,000 pounds while electricity cost was $0.15 per kilowatt hour. At the same time, the mill was generating steam very inefficiently and wasting steam and electricity compared to energy best practices. An energy audit team identified annual energy savings opportunities of over $10 million by following energy best practices followed in top performing mills producing similar paper grades. Obviously, this mill could not survive even when energy costs went down. Other paper mills had similar fates due to high energy costs, poor energy contracts, and inefficient use of energy.
Click here to read the complete article written by Dick Reese, Principal Author and Subhash Deoder, Fisher International.
Coming up next month...
California IoT Cybersecurity Bill Signed into Law
Bringing Superior Value To Metals And Paper With The IoT
Beyond Digital Transformation: How Industry 4.0 Benefits Your Customers, Employees, and Culture
and much more
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