Automation in the pulp and paper industry


Currently, the industry is experiencing a growing demand for paper packaging and tissue papers, along with the pressure of rising costs of raw materials. Being a water and energy-intensive industry, the scarcity of these resources has necessitated that paper mills look for change and adapt their production process to meet the conditions of current times. The pandemic has further pushed the industry to a position wherein change has become mandatory.

The pulp and paper industry is over 100 years old. The processes were developed keeping in mind the status quo of resources and technological advancements. With time there has been immense progress made on the technology front and the resource availability has changed. This brings along a need to keep improving and changing the processes as the conditions that drive the industry have been updated.

Integration to Industry 4.0

Having grown and adapted over the years, it is time the pulp and paper industry embraces industry 4.0. Industry 4.0 also encompasses the need for automation of processes in the paper industry and the enabling of AI/ML communication and self-monitoring. It has the potential to transform the entire industry, right from the sourcing of raw materials, to the stage of delivering the end product to the customers. 

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Real-time monitoring and communication between machines will reduce the need for human intervention. Labour hours can be directed towards tasks that are of higher importance and repetitive tasks can be automated. It aids in improving the overall effectiveness of the industry. Data-driven decision-making and actions carried out with the implementation of AI ensure accuracy in decisions and timely action to improve system performance and end-product quality.

How can Automation Support Paper Industry?

Automation can perform several tasks, from controlling critical process parameters and end product quality to carrying on manual tasks of handling cranes, labelling, and stacking products. It can also monitor the system’s health and predict the breaks required to revive it. It not only improves efficiency, but also helps to make the system sustainable. Energy and water consumption are optimized while carbon footprint reduces. It has also facilitated the industry to move towards more renewable sources and recycle resources like water.

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Haber, through its AI-driven device, eLIXA, has aided the pulp and paper industry to take the next step. Real-time sampling, statistical model-driven decision making, and AI-integrated chemical dosing have helped paper mills to drive efficiency and sustainability.

We can thus derive that the paper industry will reap immense benefits by embracing automation. Proactive players will be able to use AI/ML as a differentiating factor and be the change drivers, the advantage of which will enable them to be globally competitive.

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