Volume 5 Issue 5 May 2023

In this Issue

Welcome to Industree 4.0 for May, 2023, exclusively sponsored by SAP.


By Douglas DeLuca and Kai Aldinger


Four Reasons Why Paper Companies Need Logistics Visibility

Logistics visibility is the ability to track an order or movement of goods, products, and materials for a clearer view of status and progress along a process or route. With real-time order and shipment tracking, businesses can be more agile to avoid disruption and more resilient to manage disruption when it happens. This agility and resilience make paper companies better able to maintain production efficiency as well as predict and maintain customer promise dates. Competitive companies achieve this type of agility and resilience through highly transparent, comprehensive shipping and logistics processes, from tendering and pickup to last-mile delivery. Access to precise shipment location information combined with external risk data, all in the context of order fulfilment processes, combine to make logistics visibility a strategic imperative for supply chain resilience and customer satisfaction.

Logistics visibility is a key capability to successfully address the following challenges:

1. Responding to volatile business conditions in an agile way

Recent years have shown that nothing in business can be taken for granted. In fact, the only certainty is that we should expect change and prepare for the unexpected. Our best planning efforts aim to mitigate unexpected shipment and delivery delays, but businesses continue to experience increasingly frequent supply chain issues with significant impacts on productivity, customer satisfaction, and bottom-line profits. The key is to develop a supply chain that’s resilient enough to function effectively in turbulent markets and in the face of fast-moving events such as natural disasters, political conflicts, or labor issues. The answer to volatility begins with visibility.  Proper logistics visibility with real-time insights can help you monitor shipment status in the context of your business and order status. Logistics visibility enables you to understand where the issues are to move in a more agile way to avoid problems and mitigate risk.

2. Managing and collaborating with logistics partners

It can be difficult to keep up with what’s going on in your own organization – let alone managing or monitoring processes where you are dependent on your business partners and suppliers. Nevertheless, if you outsource inventory management, warehousing, fulfilment, or transportation to a third-party company, staying in sync with your partners and suppliers is critical. While logistics visibility is essential to achieving agility and supply chain resilience, it’s the collaboration with your partners that makes logistics visibility possible when you outsource critical business processes. Supply chain transparency can be challenging when logistics are in house, but transparency is essential when supply chains are global across an ecosystem of partners. In addition to the sometimes difficult and costly direct connection of partners in logistics, solutions from companies such as Descartes or Project44 can also be used to easily achieve multimodal supply chain visibility. The visibility that makes supply chains more agile and resilient is a team activity. Logistics visibility is essential when your success depends on your partner’s performance.

3. Driving out costs and increasing value in your supply chains

If you want to maintain your target margins, you must keep logistics costs in check. Keeping logistics costs on target means that logistics performance must go as planned. When your product goes out for delivery, it’s the riskiest time for margin erosion. Extra handling, possibly due to unexpected disruption, can only add time and cost. Real-time logistics visibility gives you insights that help you reduce warehousing and inventory costs through more efficient processes and performance that get goods to where they need to be on time and in full. With accurate information about shipment locations, risks, and impacts, you can plan, act, and react more effectively to improve overall delivery performance. You can also reduce miles travelled and dwell time and optimize loads and fuel consumption to help operationalize your sustainability objectives.

4. Meeting heightened customer expectations

There was a time when customers may have been happy with an update to let them know that their order was out for delivery. However, today’s customers expect increasingly detailed information about the shipping status and precise location of their order as well as reliable projected timing of arrival. Much of today’s heightened customer expectations are set by consumer online buying. B2B and industrial suppliers are feeling the pressure to keep up with shipment tracking that is on par with consumer e-commerce. To help you stay relevant in competitive markets, logistics visibility is more than the key to delivering optimal customer experiences, it’s vital to help you meet even the base expectations of today’s customers.

Consequently, this information can then be integrated into a customer portal, which provides the customer with information about the product, such as quality certificates, as well as transparency about the current status of the order and the estimates time of arrival.

If you are interested in gaining appropriate supply chain visibility, you can request a demo of SAP Global Track and Trace here

Building I4: Level 1, Logic

By Pat Dixon, PE, PMP

Vice President of Automation, Pulmac Systems International (pulmac.com)

Last month we covered the capabilities of controllers that enable I4. There is more to cover here.

Controllers must be deterministic. Interlocks, alarms, PID loops, and other functionality at the field level cannot not work in the cloud. As much as we hear about the benefits of the cloud, you do not get determinism when you are reliant on remote servers and internet communication.  

Because of the deterministic nature of functionality at this level, working at this level is a bit like surgery. The impact of a mistake at this level can be immediate and severe. I have seen a running paper machine brought to its knees by someone that made an improper logic change. I have also seen a pulping operation go blind, where the process graphics in the user interface have all values with question marks and flashing red, because someone doing remote engineering downloaded a bunch of changes that occupied the processor to the extent that it could not respond to the user interface. 


In I4, we use internet communication to enable remote engineering. Following COVID, this has become a necessity. This means that people outside the building must have credentials to make logic changes, and these changes might occur while the process is running. 


This puts a priority on security. Properly designing a control network for remote engineering includes segmentation and authentication.


Segmentation means that we do not have a single cable connecting all controllers to the business resources. The business network and the controller network are connected in I4, but there are differing levels of communication. At Level 1, we have network segments that enable deterministic communication between devices. Such a segment can be isolated to a particular process area and specific controllers. This enables high speed and deterministic protocols to be deployed where it is needed. At higher levels, different segments can be designed to enable communication that is still used for automation, yet does not require the same speed. As we go up to the business level, the determinism requirements diminish and the access can be restricted differently. Each level of segmentation can have different access levels to ensure the right people have the right capabilities.


Authentication means we need to know who has access to what. People doing financial work at the business level should not have access to control logic, and vice versa. Today’s systems have central administration of accounts, typically in a domain controller. In I4, these accounts are enterprise wide. In I3, we would have accounts created on a particular computer or device that is locally administered. Today when we have remote engineering and too many computers and accounts to manage individually, authentication is centrally administered. 


There is also more capability today to centrally manage control logic. Software revision control has always been important, and now control systems have this capability for control logic. This ensures that there is documentation of what change was made, who made it, and when. If a change causes a problem, the change can be rolled back to known logic that works. Having the logic managed in a central location that can be accesses by the properly credentialed people inside and outside of the building makes this a system that works in the I4 era.


At this stage we have addressed the capabilities of controllers at Level 1 for the foundation of an I4 system. Next month we are going to address the challenges of control loops that can be better managed in I4.

Logistics is the New Frontier

There is likely as much opportunity in logistics these days are there are in any other part of the manufacturing business. Perhaps even more so.

We talk about controlling our process "inside the fence" but outside the fence is still almost as challenging as it has ever been.

I have two inbound stories that may shed some light on the challenges.

A number of years ago, a friend of mine was operating a small chemical plant near Baton Rouge, Louisiana. I called him up, told him I was in the area and ask if I could stop by. He told me, "Sure, but we are down." When I arrived, he showed me why they were down.

Just outside their fence, on a railroad siding, stood a tank car full of a chemical he needed in order to start up. It had been delayed in transit and had finally arrived.

But it was outside the fence. I asked, "What's the problem (besides what is obvious)?"

Apparently, the way the trains operated, a certain engine brought it to the point where it was sitting and another engine, due to railroad rules, was required to push it the last five hundred feet. It was supposed to arrive "in a couple of days."

In another case, a couple of decades before this one, I was sitting in my office in the mill one day and got a call from a truck driver. He was on the road, about two miles from our mill and broken down.

His load was a very heavy press roll. It was in a box, but the load was offset inside the box. It was a huge box, took up the whole truck. The offset weight had put an overload on one side and he had blown the four tires on the trailer on that side. He had already had a terrible trip of three weeks from the Port of New Orleans to us.

Then the tires blew and he was getting little help from his company (the cartage company). He was sitting on the rims on that side.

Since this roll was for a project I was working on, I went back to the mill and talked to my boss. I wanted to off load him (we had cranes and heavy duty trucks on site, it would have been a relatively easy thing to do). My boss said, "No. the vendor is responsible for getting it through our gate."

I went back down to the truck and told the driver the bad news. I didn't mention this was before cell phones. This highway was literally out in the woods.

As I drove down the road to the mill the next morning, there was a big gouge in the highway. After dark, the driver put the truck in creeper gear and dragged his load up to the mill.

In both these cases, I can think of about a dozen ways that modern communications, computers and software could have eased the pain.

When it Comes to Edge, Don't Overlook the Little Things

By Jason Shepard

Software continues to eat the world, with the value of software-defined products and services evolving over their cumulative lifespan. It’s a business imperative that organizations move from waterfall software development to an agile model leveraging continuous delivery and integration. The power and elasticity of the cloud have been a massive accelerator for innovation over the past ten years, however, the sheer volume of devices and data – an estimated 1 trillion connected devices by 2030 – are driving a necessary shift towards a distributed computing model. 

Read the full article here

Plant Documentation 4.0: An 'essential enabler' for Industry 4.0

By Mark Allinson

Specialist articles on Industry 4.0 generally emphasise the feasibility of consistent, intelligent networking of machines, processes and personnel.

Read the full article here

How to forge a clear path to Industry 4.0

By Beth Stackpole

Why It Matters

Sensor technologies, advanced analytics, artificial intelligence, and machine learning are poised to remake manufacturing. Don't let a legacy mindset derail progress.

Read the full article here

Prevent ISP tracking with a Virtual Private Network

By IoT Business News

Internet service providers (ISPs) have access to your online activity. Even when browsing in private mode, this applies to your browsing history, the content you consume, and the websites you visit. ISPs can monitor and keep this data for up to two years in most nations. The information is utilized for targeted advertising, government enforcement, and bandwidth throttling.

Read the full article here
Industree 4.0 is exclusively sponsored by SAP