The Intelligent Enterprise for Paper and Packaging
Part 4: Producing for Purpose
Part 3 of the Intelligent Enterprise for Paper and Packaging series we talked about how digital technology
is being used by thought leading paper and packaging companies to run smart factories and digital networks. By 2025, a substantial part of paper and packaging companies' value, reputation, and differentiation will come from services. These services will be delivered around highly customized products, enriched by digital information. To get there, paper and packaging companies need to focus on five strategic priorities:
Offering small lot sizes and individualization
Running smart factories and digital networks
Supporting value-added services and new business models
Producing for purpose
Part 4 goes into detail on strategic priority 5: Producing for Purpose.
We are moving toward a purpose-driven global economy. A mind shift is happening among consumers, employees, suppliers, and investors that is inspiring companies to more strongly define and deliver on their purpose.
To succeed in the future, paper and packaging companies will, of course, still need to deliver financial performance -but they will also need to show how they are making a positive contribution to society and helping in solving some of the world's greatest challenges. With the planet's limited natural resources, people have an increased awareness of the ecological footprint of a product. To attract the right talent, paper and packaging companies need to make sure that theirs is a place at which young people want to work. While worker safety is commonly taken care of, the consumption of wood, water, and energy should be as low as possible. The wood should originate from sustainable plantations, and companies must take care of the needs of affected local communities.
In 2025 paper and packaging companies will be able to offer best-in-class worker safety even in remote locations. They will avoid using material from illegal logging, and they will be able to prove the origin of their products at all stages. Companies will run their business profitably, but also focus on product recyclability during design. They will support recycling, establish lower energy requirements, and reduce material consumption. They will strive for fair labor
conditions, and they will engage with local communities - for example, in reducing the impact of cutting down trees during periods of harvesting field crops.
Paper and packaging companies start toward this goal by improving production processes so that they have lower energy consumption and improved labor conditions. This is achieved through process insight based on sensor data, real-time analytics, and IoT concepts. They can collaborate with business partners to lower transportation effort, and then decide to produce locally to lower transportation volumes. Finally, they will use 3D positioning of workers to predict and avoid hazardous situations, and replace an increasing number of products with environmentally friendly material. Total transparency throughout the value chain will allow them to track the origin of any product at any stage and ensure that only fiber from certified forestry is used.
Differentiation in products is difficult in the paper and packaging business. As this is an energy-intensive, water-consuming industry, society has a close look at how goods are manufactured in this business. But there are concepts in place to reduce energy consumption and emissions significantly. Some paper plants produce green energy and can even supply to the grid. While paper is a recyclable product, there is still a need for sourcing fresh fiber from the forests. Digital capabilities allow for testifying and tracking he origin of fiber, and growing wood is done while taking care of the needs of local communities.
Example scenario: Health and Safety
In many companies today, health and safety administrators have limited insight into the root causes of incidents and their implications and into organization-level compliance for EHS. Incidents are often captured in a variety of disconnected applications in different mills. It takes time and multiple reports to monitor and analyze environmental compliance across the organization in a timely and meaningful way. In the end there is no easy way to identify risks or prevent risks.
A new world using technology
Modern technology also helps organizations keep employees safer and mitigate environment, health, and safety (EHS) risks by providing the functionality to perform risk assessments, efficiently measure and report emissions, manage incidents, and communicate safe work practices to all employees. In addition, companies can:
Support health and safety administrators through advanced analytics, simplified EHS processes, and dedicated applications, enabling them to act in the moment
Use sophisticated analytics to analyze incidents, near misses, and other safety information supported by spatial data
Monitor environmental data records graphically for different compliance scenarios with applicable compliance limits
Approve, replace, or invalidate the recorded values of environmental data records. Use dedicated applications to manage chemicals with all the relevant details
Simplify the process to identify risks and assign relevant safety measures for risk mitigation
Enable proactive warnings for workers to avoid incidents - using IoT technology
I learned at an early age that I am not a skilled prognosticator. My ability to predict is more dependent on mathematical models than intuition. Despite this limitation, I will make a prediction in this article; human labor will not be entirely replaced by machines.
The pertinence of this matter is apparent as Industry 4.0 becomes a more common subject in popular culture. The concern that human workers are being replaced by machines and that automation has led to proposals such as Universal Basic Income and other policies which intend to ensure humans will continue to maintain subsistence without a means to generate income. The rise of Artificial Intelligence has raised well publicized concerns about the threat that intelligent machines present, such as the ongoing debate between Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg. Since our profession is one that provides and/or uses automation, we are inherently in the same debate and are prime decision makers in the outcome.
Among those in this domain, Ray Kurzweil stands out as a leading authority on technology and its impact on our world. In 2005, he wrote "The Singularity is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology". This book is recognized as a seminal work on this topic and is commonly referenced by those addressing potential threats of automation. In his book, Kurzweil predicts that by 2045 machines will become capable of the full range of human intelligence, which could mean humans would be obsolete as a labor source. This point in time is called "The Singularity".
This can sound rather scary, especially to those outside of our profession. How do we respond when frightened people ask us why we are building and installing automation systems for our production facilities?
A short answer is that these systems make us safer, cleaner, and more sustainable. I believe this can be clearly demonstrated, but such a response does not appease the fears of the future Singularity. Below, I will present a logical argument that may suffice.
I begin with a premise: our world has and always will have problems. We are imperfect, mistakes happen, and there need to be ways to avoid and fix mistakes. While nature may not make mistakes, it does present earthquakes, viruses, fires, and other calamities. Resources are finite and human demand for them can be competitive and lead to scarcity. In a wide variety of ways, our world is full of problems.
The logical corollary is that there will always be a demand for solutions. There are opportunities for entrepreneurs to solve these problems and the market will always be open for business.
The next premise is that not every problem has a pre-defined solution. We can toss a boatload of data into a machine and get answers, but some problems don't have answers that can be derived from an algorithm. There are machine algorithms today that can adapt and improve, but they are generally used for a single purpose and not able to generalize intelligence. At the point of the Singularity, machines can learn as we do and figure things out without being programmed to solve a specific problem. However, in the mathematical field of optimization there is the concept of local solutions. This is the case where an algorithm can achieve what it believes is an optimal solution, but the entire range of solutions has not been evaluated. In our multi-dimensional world, the solution space to some of our problems can seem intractable to evaluate. Therefore, we cannot assume the correct or best solution to a problem can be programmed. Whether human or robot, the problem solver needs to be creative. Being creative means to create; to make something new that did not exist before. Being able to go outside the box to consider different approaches that haven't been considered before is part of the creative process. Without this, the solution may elude the problem solver.
The final premise will be the most difficult one to prove and is critical to the argument. The premise is that humans are the ideal creative machine. In other words, if you wanted to create the most creative machine, you would have a baby. In "Algorithms to Live By", authors Christian and Griffiths show that many of the algorithms we use in industrial automation and elsewhere do not work until some human creativity is incorporated. Artificial Intelligence attempts to model our biological brains and capture our creativity, but as model accuracy is asymptotic it may continually approach but never quite reach what it is attempting to model. We are the optimal creative machine.
To make the argument more concise:
Corollary 1: There will always be a demand for solutions to problems
Premise 1: There will always be problems to solve
Premise 2: Some problems require creativity
Premise 3: Humans are the ideal creative machine
Thesis (Corollary 1 + Premise 2 + Premise 3) = Machines will not entirely replace human labor
The empirical evidence shows that as technology has evolved, some skills have been displaced but other grow in demand and the overall unemployment does not grow. There was a time when everyone needed a horse. A horse provided transportation, power, and other needs. An industry was built around the horse; people produced wagons, saddles, horseshoes, and tamed these animals. Along came cars. Today there is still demand for skills in the horse industry, but it is a small fraction of what it was. That did not lead to mass unemployment. New industries required new skills and workers met that demand.
Today, the demand for people in our field of automation is huge, not to mention general purpose artificial intelligence. It is hard to imagine what the skill-set of the future will be, but humans seem well suited to fill the demand. While Singularity machines will have a growing role and will likely offload much of our problem solving, history suggests the human role will be indispensable.
Taken together, the empirical evidence and logical argument suggest humans have a bright future in the labor force.
There are legitimate concerns over the future impact of technology, and those concerned about these matters are being logical. If we recognize that our logic is a subset of our capability, we may find that creativity is our greatest and most important asset and will never be obsolete.
Pat Dixon is Southwest Region Engineering Manager for Global Process Automation (GPA), a controls system integration firm.
Digital twins - precise, virtual copies of machines or systems - are revolutionizing industry. Driven by data collected from sensors in real time, these sophisticated computer models mirror almost every facet of a product, process or service. Many major companies already use digital twins to spot problems and increase efficiency. Half of all corporations might be using them by 2021, one analyst predicts.
For instance, NASA uses digital copies to monitor the status of its spacecraft. Energy companies General Electric (GE) and Chevron use them to track the operations of wind turbines. Singapore is developing a digital copy of the entire city to monitor and improve utilities. Machine intelligence and cloud computing will boost such models' power.
What is the total operating cost of your
IIoT network? Beyond the initial purchase expenditure, what ongoing costs have you overlooked?
8% of IT budgets are earmarked for IIoT over the next three years, with businesses expecting an ROI including a 10% reduction in costs and a 5% lift in turnover within this period, an
Inmarsat research paper revealed. The 2018 report identified costs associated with connectivity, data, security, and skills.
ZDNet points out that as with any new technology, there is limited cost and budget history associated with IIoT, and companies "are only now beginning to collect data that can tell them how long it will take to recoup their initial IIoT investments".
To recoup your investment more quickly and simplify the integration process, here are six tricks to lowering your IIoT costs:
Optimized use of fibre raw materials and higher production consistency
Voith's OnEfficiency concept increases plant efficiency and at the same time improves product and process quality. One of the companies to use this application in its production is Metsä Board, a Finnish manufacturer of premium paperboards. At a total of eight production facilities, the company produces two million tons of paperboard annually, including folding boxboard, food service board and white kraftliner. Metsä Board's pure and safe paperboards are made of fresh fibres and they provide an ideal solution for consumer goods, retail and food packaging. Metsä Board's development focus is on lightweight boards that have the stiffness and the quality consistency to run smoothly and reliably in all production processes.
The enterprise is now home to billions of Internet of Things (IoT) devices, including everything from security cameras and office printers to lighting and heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems. Industries ranging from health care to manufacturing are embracing the IoT in order to increase efficiency, reduce costs, and gain or maintain a competitive edge.
This can lead to some very complex networking problems.
Cisco reports that almost three-quarters of all IoT projects ultimately end up failing. One of the leading causes of failure is the near-impossibility of managing thousands or even millions of individual IoT sensors for solutions that don't necessarily interoperate or use the same protocols.
So how can enterprises solve this problem and get their IoT and edge projects off the ground and running smoothly? Through orchestration.
20 Surprising IoT Statistics You Don't Already Know
The Internet of Things (IoT) has been a hot topic for decades- ever since a few Carnegie Mellon University graduate students decided to use ARPANET (the precursor to the modern Internet) and a sensory board to monitor the temperature and availability of a Coca-Cola machine's products in the 1980s. But where is the IoT industry headed? Looking at some of the highlights from the industry's top IoT statistics helps to shed some light on the growth of the industry that has taken computers from being machines that once required entire rooms of space and revolutionized them into ones that can be worn on your wrist.
The fourth industrial revolution (4IR) is making a significant impact in our world and how we do business. Nowadays, it seems like everything is connected to the internet. Manufacturing equipment, thermostats, refrigerators, wristwatches, baby monitors, automobiles, medical devices - even door locks. (Yeah, we don't think all of these are particularly smart, either, considering the insecurities that plague IoT devices - but, hey, whatever floats people's boats.) But the forward momentum doesn't stop there. Companies are continually striving to make virtually everything connected - regardless of whether everyone is on the same page about such an increasing level of connectivity.