Breaking free of silosWhen 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 helps, 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.
Taking on a complex endeavorFor 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.
Fibers of a digital factoryStora 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.
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.
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.