Lighter on the environment with analytics
Paper is a renewable material. Through the use of analytics, we are now minimising the impact our paper production has on the environment.
The interest for paper-based products as a sustainable choice is increasing. This can be seen, for example, in rising e-commerce and environmentally conscious consumers choosing paper over plastics. It is important that we serve this demand and the environment responsibly.
Paper products have been regarded positively for their recyclable nature for many years. On top of this, we are always looking for ways to reduce the environmental impact of the production process. Now we can confidently measure and control areas of production better than ever. In the past, improving the quality of the paper meant improving the quality of the machines. Now as digitalisation has begun to play a part in all areas of Stora Enso’s work, we can apply analytics to make the difference.
The technology for analytics and big data is less costly, and we are able to use it in a way that was previously not possible. Implementing traditional methodology such as “lightweighting” (mass reduction) tied to analytics, we can begin to see some reductions in the use of raw materials.
When lightweighting, we reduce the amount of fibre used in the production process, but at the same time maintain product stiffness and thickness. However, reducing the amount of softwood virgin fibre can affect paper strength (measured by both tensile and tear strength) which is usually derived from the amount of softwood virgin fibre used. As a result, we have to carefully monitor how much we reduce the virgin fibre. In the past, we would produce the product and then adjust these parameters. Now, thanks to analytics, we don’t have to wait for the final product to see when we need to make the adjustments. This enables us to be precise with the quality and use the minimum amount of raw materials.
Using big data analysis, we can monitor and adjust the process online in real time saving time, material and energy. While Stora Enso set on the path to digitisation a number of years ago, it has only been in the past two years that we’ve been able to implement and measure the success of this kind of new methodology in production. We are now able to see real progress, and we believe there could be a reduction of up to 10 percent in the use of softwood virgin fibre in operations.
Big data analytics continues to play a transformative role in our industry. It reveals areas of waste, areas for improvement and is opening up new pathways for change. We must be agile and ready to move with the technology.