The New Intelligent Pulp Solution!
Stora Enso is a renewable materials company. The company focuses on replacing fossil-based materials with renewable, recyclable, low-carbon solutions made from trees. Per year, Stora Enso produces over nine million tons of pulp, with more than two million tons sold globally.
The motivation behind their most recent endeavor is to reveal the hidden value in the pulp supply chain, especially with the lack of visibility and access to unit level quality data. With the goal of further digitalizing the pulp industry in mind, the New Intelligent Pulp Solution was launched.
Sten Neumann, Sales Director, Industrial Solutions at Stora Enso Intelligent Packaging, in an interview with RFID & Wireless IoT Global.
Head of Sales and Marketing, Intelligent Packaging
Launching the New Intelligent Pulp Solution
As the need for visibility and transparency is increasing, Stora Enso has launched a new solution to digitalize the pulp industry. As Sten Neumann explains, “digitalizing the entire pulp value chain by enabling RFID, and providing services to help clients with installation, testing, and maintenance is a full turn key solution. All three of Stora Enso’s Nordic pulp mills are fully implemented with this new technology.”
Uncovering Hidden Potential
As producers, ports, and consumers are all moving towards RFID solutions to optimize their businesses, Stora Enso Intelligent Packaging is dedicated to fully leverage the value chain of the pulp industry.
As Neumann notes, “the industry is moving towards increasing visibility in the value chain, which has always been a problem in the past”. Clients can achieve full traceability across the entire value chain and unlock values for producers, transporters, warehouse operators, and consumers.
According to Neumann, this solution provides everything from the applicator, to a custom-designed sustainable and repulpable RFID tag, to reader hardware, to a cloud solution that enables demand and invoicing automatization, stores quality data and helps our customers to track their inbound logistics. Stora Enso Intelligent Packaging’s final goals include optimization throughout the value chain, from its own operations, though logistics to the pulp consumers.
The first step of this solution is the application of the ECO Bale RFID tag to the pulp bales. This process is executed by the custom-built Hammer Tag Applicator. The Hammer System is designed for industrial environments because it enables the application to run at high speeds without interrupting the on-going industrial process. The tags are encoded and quality-controlled while potential under-performing tags are instantly removed. It is a remotely managed system with a simple and user-friendly UI, and has standard IoT and industrial interfaces for easy integration in various mill systems over TCP(IP)/XML, IO, or Profinet.
The Hammer System for pulp is equipped with integrated UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply) and also sends comprehensive alarm and error messages directly to the mill system. Once the ECO Bale Tag has been encoded and applied to the pulp bale, a digital twin is constructed. As a result, the unit can be traced and analyzed throughout the entire value chain.
Stora Enso Intelligent Packaging provides designed and tested reading systems with the Sonar RFID Readpoints. At these reading points new and updated information can be retrieved. The Sonar System provides a full installation kit, connectivity modules, RF-cables, RFID readers, RFID antennas with customized mounting brackets, and industrial PCs. In order to ensure a smooth process at all times, Stora Enso Intelligent Packaging provides installations and maintenance throughout the New Intelligent Pulp Solution.
Building a Digital Bridge
The Bridge Middleware controls and collects RFID data and integrates it into the Cloud system. In regards to safety, a Bridge Edge Server functions as a secure gateway between the Bridge Middleware and the Cloud. The Bridge Cloud, built on Microsoft Azure, offers safe data storage, allocation, and global access. As a result, analyzing and optimizing can be conducted in processes such as logistics, production, finance, or warehouse management. Customers can then use the collected data to enhance their production, pulp supply and finance processes, thereby, reducing costs.
Sustainability at the Forefront
Stora Enso Intelligent Packaging introduced the pulp-industry specific tag, ECO Bale in 2018 – a paper-based, fully water-soluble RFID tag which does not interfere with subsequent productions. It is designed for intelligent packaging functionalities in supply chain, retail, and e-commerce applications.
The ECO Bale enables end-to-end traceability until the tag enters the paper production process, where it then dissolves. It is therefore an ecological alternative to traditional plastic tags, resulting in a lower carbon footprint for sustainability. It is used to track items from the source until the manufacturing process. As it is designed for materials that contain moisture, it is compatible for pulping processes and is approved with direct food contact certification.
Beneficial Outcome for All Players in the Supply Chain
First, the solution assists the manufacturers in keeping track of their inventory. Real time information about the product stock level is provided ensuring that the right product is always delivered to the right customer. Additionally, the Solution provides advanced quality information on a product level, making vendor-managed inventory monitoring possible. Thereby, all inventory levels can be tangibly optimized.
Second, benefits for logistics are achieved as well. As visibility and accuracy in shipment is increased, simultaneously, an improved precision in ETA and delivery status is gained. The reduction of transportation costs through increased visibility and optimized production is possible as well.
Third, by applying this solution, automated logging of the incoming pulp and automated invoicing is achieved. Consumers may also automate their stock counting and employ real time inventory levels. There is also the possibility to optimize processes according to the collected pulp quality values.
Finally, the solution offers consumption monitoring, as well as inventory and consumption forecasting. Neumann concludes, “we are starting to see the benefits of integrating the full value chain and therefore look forward to seeing the whole industry move in that direction too.”