Fiber of the future

Embracing disruption in the pulp and paper industry, Stora Enso builds a digital factory from the ground up in Beihai, China.

Breaking free of silos

When analog offices turned digital, the slide in demand for office paper sent a shockwave through the pulp and paper industry. Forging ahead on its digital journey, Stora Enso has emerged as a game changer in the global fiber industry. We talked to Senior Vice President Investments & Energy and passionate ambassador for Stora Enso’s reinvention, Dr. Heinz Felder, about breaking free of silos – in mindsets, organization, and markets.

What was the key moment that propelled Stora Enso into its digital journey?

We had our wake-up call some 10 years ago. At the time, we thrived in an economy where paper was king. Our organization was siloed and stable. Persistently solid growth rates made us very confident. Then – suddenly – with the shift to digital, demand for paper went into decline. For the first time ever, we found ourselves unprepared. Worse, we became vulnerable as our share price dropped from 15 Euros to a low of 3.


We realized we had to change. And that’s what we did. We explored new business models, kick-started the transformation of our culture and, most importantly, we changed our mindset: In 2006, we saw digitization as a threat, today we know it’s an opportunity.

What are the challenges Stora Enso is facing in their transformation?

Digitization itself is not a challenge, it’s an enabler. It lets us improve sales, operational efficiency, and business processes. The challenge is reshaping our organization. If we want to stay competitive in an increasingly digital arena, we need a very short time to market. Which mean, our organization has to become faster, more agile, and customer-centric. It’s really a work in progress. Right now, we’re still exploring: How do we best prioritize digitization in areas with a strong business case? And, how can we speed up the rollout of successful pilots?

Rethink is not a program. It’s an attitude.
Dr. Heinz Felder, Senior Vice President Investment and Energy

Why did you choose Siemens as a supplier for your first digital factory project?

The short answer? Capability, continuity, and commitment. The long answer? We’re moving from traditional supplier relationships to ecosystems and strategic

partnerships, especially in digitization projects. One outcome of such a close collaboration is the single biggest investment in a growth market in the history of

Stora Enso – our digital factory, the Greenfield Board Mill in Guangxi.


Siemens has been with us from the moment we conceived the idea 10 years

ago, and they’ve been committed and challenging ever since. We talk to a single dedicated contact for the entire project – sales and handling. The Industrial

Internet of Things expertise from automation to process control system is there, and the local setup through Siemens China is strong. And, of course, it help, that

our partner understands what’s driving the fiber industry.

What has the rethink brought Stora Enso?

We are much more open about our markets. Cultivating growing consumer markets, such as Asia and China specifically, is now a priority. And, we’re exploring new growth areas: renewables, packaging, textiles, and – somewhat surprisingly – chemicals. The emerging trends in consumer board and fiber-based food packaging are excellent examples here. Our new digital factory in China will primarily produce liquid packaging board, a high-quality food-grade packaging enjoying fast-growing demand. Our smart factory gives us the flexibility we need to stay ahead of the curve in China and the Asia-Pacific region.

Read the interview with Mikael Hannus of Stora Enso on the new side of lignin.

Read interview in The Magazine


Taking on a complex endeavor

For the Tiger project, six Siemens business units seamlessly merged to achieve a visionary milestone goal – the installation of Stora Enso’s first fully digital factory. The Siemens team took on engineering, commissioning, and installation supervision at the plant site in Beihai, China. The team’s readiness to commit over a 10-year duration became a key factor in mastering the complex endeavor: They contributed strong local know-how and project continuity, from conception to completion.
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Future Makers

Engelbert Schrapp
Key account manager,
Siemens Global
As a key account manager, I am in a unique position. I have the freedom to look at the bigger picture, to be visionary and innovative in finding ways to achieve tangible value for both my customer and Siemens. This holistic mindset puts me on the customer’s side of the table. It allowed me to encourage Stora Enso to embark on their digital journey 10 years ago, and it allows me to be part of that on-going transformation today. The Tiger project let me step away from silos in both my personal and my professional life. I moved my family to Shanghai to more deeply immerse myself in the project. I was the only non-Chinese to cycle to work every day. Who knew riding a bike can be a great way of experiencing globalization.
Riding a bike can be a great way of experiencing globalization
Xu Jiong Yan
Engineering expert and project manager,
Siemens China
I joined the Tiger project as a local expert early in the intense 6-year preparation phase. We had to win the customer over package by package. We took power distribution, turbine, and process electrification. When we caught automation too, one week later, I saw our chance – to unleash the data power of a fully integrated mill-wide automation running on a PCS7 platform. Sometimes, when I look at Greenfield board mill today and picture the streams of data controlling it, I remember the vast stretch of red dirt it was built on, and it hits me: We created this. We set a standard for future digital factories not only in China but everywhere, and I helped make that happen. It’s a great feeling.
We did something, no one ever managed before
Lars Bråten
Project Manager DCS,
Siemens Germany
Our day-to-day work-relationship with Stora Enso was very close. Their confidence in us quite literally shaped the Beihai mill you see today. When we first designed its technical layout, I had a certain automation scope to deliver. At start-up, Stora Enso had substantially expanded their original order, entrusting us with running the entire site from a single process control system. When I see the performance data coming in, there are moments I want to congratulate both the teams of Stora Enso and Siemens all over again on their successful achievement. But in engineering, even a job well done is never over. Our next evolutionary stage now is MindSphere. We are now taking our control performance analytics to the next level – into the cloud.
Taking control performance to the next level

Fibers of a digital factory

Stora Enso’s Greenfield board mill in Beihai, China, is a factory of firsts: the first fully-digital factory in the fiber industry; the first smart factory in China to leverage Siemens’s totally integrated automation system, and Stora Enso’s first milestone digitization investment. The added values created by the turnkey SIPAPER installation by Siemens contribute to Stora Enso‘s move into Asia’s new growth markets for sustainable fiber-based food-grade packaging board.

Customer Centricity

The market demands for smaller lots and faster customer response. Lot size one enables flexibility and customer centricity with just-in-time production.


Building on SIPAPER and PCS7, our concept for remote-operation capability spans a digital space that includes turbine, process, infrastructure, power supply, and the board machine itself.

Safety & security

Totally Integrated Automation (TIA) gives our customers peace of mind: It makes workplaces in manufacturing in the digital age safer and more secure. The integrated safety concept increases the level of work and fail safety. The integrated security concept protects automation system and network, ensures system integrity and prevents breaches.

Cloud analytics

Data analytics – and the option to connect to MindSphere – stand at the heart of this fully-digital board mill. The system currently analyzes and optimizes about half of the 700 control circuits at the Greenfield Board Mill. An on-site team of experts, assembled by the customer specifically for this purpose, handles the integration of data analytics into daily operations at the plant.

Fit for the future with integrated automation

Four elements – turbine, SCADA, process, and drives – form the mill-wide automation system. Implemented during plant installation, the automation system is fully integrated enabling comprehensive and in-depth cloud analytics. It creates a powerful foundation for all future digitization projects at the plant.

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Portfolio overview

Building factories for the future

The first fully digital factory in the fiber industry is the shared success of the strategic partnership of Stora Enso and Siemens. Your real-world challenges spark our creativity in digitalsolution building.