Volume 4 Issue 12 December 2022

In this Issue

Welcome to Industree 4.0 for December, 2022, exclusively sponsored by SAP.


By Susan Galer


This Paper Producer Is Turning A Profit And Maintaining Biodiversity

The world was a very different place in the 1970s when Steinbeis Papier launched its factory to recycle used telephone books in Germany. Considered pioneering at the time, recycling has become a mainstay of the circular economy that’s redrawing the future of industries like paper.

Fast forward some 50 years and Steinbeis Papier is a European market leader, having infused economical sustainability across its sourcing and manufacturing operations with impressive results. For example, the company has significantly reduced the amount of materials and resources used in office paper production including wood (100%), energy (72%), and water (83%), while decreasing CO2 emissions by 53%.

“We are producing recycled paper economically and sustainably. At our site in Glückstadt, our own power plant provides 100% of the thermal energy and 50% of electrical energy,” said Ulrich Middelberg, head of IT at Steinbeis Papier. “Now with rising energy costs, it’s a real market differentiator for us.”

Instead of using fossil fuels, Steinbeis Papier uses alternative fuel sources to generate energy for its factory that produces about 300,000 metric tons of printing and copying, offset, digital printing, and label papers each year. For environmentally-friendly energy generation, the company has also invested in solar and wind power. Talking at the SAP International Conference for Forest Products, Paper & Packaging, Middelberg shared his company’s sustainability journey.

Digitalization powers circular economy genius

The World Economic Forum said that paper is one of the most-often recycled materials globally, accounting for half of the materials collected for recycling by weight. The Brussels-based Confederation of European Paper Industries (CEPI) aims to make all paper packaging recyclable by 2025, and reach a recycling rate of 90% by 2030.

But the elephant in the room this winter is the energy crisis that’s making sustainability a must-have for European businesses. Growing fuel shortages and spiking prices are hitting the region particularly hard. In Steinbeis Papier’s home country, the German government has targeted energy reductions of at least 20% that apply community-wide to mitigate gas and electricity shortages.

Steinbeis Papier is well-positioned to meet these challenges because keeping production on track with energy-saving efficiency is baked into its business model. In fact, the entire operation is a microcosm of circular economy genius. After collecting used paper from customers, the company converts it into recycled products by following a series of rigorously sustainable steps from initial water processing through purification and production. Connected data automation helps decision-makers from the factory floor to other company departments monitor production and act fast for flexible efficiencies.

“We decided to centralize our production data using SAP HANA and SAP Analytics Cloud,” said Middelberg. “We can run real-time analytics for reports that correlate sensor-based machine and other data inputs so we can detect anomalies quickly and make more timely decisions.”

With over 25,000 connected sensors streaming more than 50,000 data points per second, Steinbeis Papier can instantly surface patterns that quickly identify the root cause of production anomalies. A dashboard visualizes real-time and historical information on a single screen.

“Maybe someone on the production line changed the steering of a machine from the automatic to manual setting and forgot to put it back after an incident, or there are energy consumption changes in a machine indicating that a part is about to fail,” said Middelberg. “The machine alerts us to these kinds of incidents, helping us identify patterns over time so we can automate incident resolution.”

Digitalization is equally critical to reduce raw material consumption for resource and cost-savings. Steinbeis Papier can capture actual material usage against energy KPIs, helping people act on alerts when numbers exceed certain thresholds. Analytics can also monitor energy usage by paper product, providing data to validate the company’s execution against corporate commitments and compliance with regulations.

Circular economy ends trade-offs between profit and environment

Although used telephone books have faded into the annals of 20th century history, recycling is a potent force for change in the paper industry. Digitalization helps organizations like Steinbeis Papier stay competitive with business models that don’t sacrifice profits for the environment.

Learn how industrial materials companies are creating a more sustainable future by becoming adaptable and resilient.

The Foundation of Control

By Pat Dixon, PE, PMP

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

I have often emphasized that despite the tremendous benefits the 4th industrial era brings to industry, we should not lose sight of the foundation. A castle built on a faulty foundation will crumble.

At a recent industry conference, there was a study presented from approximately 15,000 PID control loops in a variety of industries over the last 5 years. A PID (Proportional Integral Derivative) loop is the fundamental building block of process control in every industrial facility for continuous processes, and is very common in batch and discrete processes. A typical pulp and paper mill has hundreds or thousands of PID loops. This study revealed the following:

·       19% of loops do not operate in the desired mode, meaning they are typically manually operated instead of allowing the PID loop to automatically control

·       49% of loops oscillate, meaning that they do not control in a stable manner that settles to the desired setpoint

·       56% of loop display medium or a high degree of error, meaning they are not performing very well and may actually be causing more deviation from target or introducing disturbances to the process

If this is the first time you have seen statistics like this you might be justifiably alarmed. Many of us in industry have seen similar statistics for many years. It is surprising that such a fundamental component that has been around for 100 years (developed by Minorsky in 1922) that proliferates through every industrial facility is performing so poorly in practice today. There is no shortage of literature, YouTube videos, and webinars instructing industry on how to get better performance through tuning and analysis. I am currently on a committee with ISA known as “5.9 Controller Algorithms and Performance” that intends to produce a comprehensive approach to all aspects of PID performance, analysis, and guidance.

If we are honest about this, we need to recognize we do not have the staffing and expertise to maintain all the PID loops we have at our facilities. Even with all of the help that is available, facilities just don’t have the resources to do it alone. In the 4th industrial era there is great interest in expanding the capabilities of our automation, but doing so without a full understanding of current performance can squander the investment. We cannot expect to improve performance by piling fancy stuff on top of a poor foundation.


Fortunately there are monitoring tools that can watch all of your PID loops to identify those that require attention. Think of this as a CMMS (Computerized Maintenance Management System) for your PID loops. Much like the way a CMMS can automatically monitor motor stop/starts and runtimes, or vibration and process data, to determine when your motor requires maintenance, a loop monitoring tool can do the same. This gives your current staffing time for getting good performance at the foundation of your process control system. Not only can this improve your operation by running in a more stable manner closer to targets, but it also enables advanced controls to optimize your operation and yield big benefits to your bottom line.

To truly achieve the promise of the 4th industrial era, you need a comprehensive understanding. Not only do you need to know where you are going, you need to know where you are now. Loop monitoring can be an important tool to deliver the promise of the 4th industrial era.

(The study referenced in this article was provided by Bob Rice, VP of Engineering for Control Station)

Tactically responding to Strategy

We spend a lot of time in the broadly defined worlds of Industry 4.0, computerization, artificial intelligence and so forth, enamored with execution of tactics.

There is still a large gap between the development of strategy and the execution of tactics, when it comes to automated processes. As we look to the future, there is an opportunity here in many fields.

One place to look for clues is in the area of electrical energy generation, transmission and consumption. Here in the United States, this is playing out daily. The creaky old electrical grid is being tugged at from the generation side and the consumption side while it struggles to reliably transmit in accordance with today's needs.

On the forefront of this matter in the United States is the National Renewable Energy Laboratories in Golden, Colorado. It is instructive to watch how they are tackling these issues for electricity while we simultaneously think about how might apply their approach of converting strategy into tactics in our own industries.

Check them out at www.nrel.gov.

IOT Devices Are Changing the Global Emissions Game

By W. David Stephenson

Manufacturers are under growing pressure to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The Internet of Things—and more specifically, environmental sensors—marks a new frontier to help those reduction strategies succeed.

Read the full article here

Norway's Answer to the Smart City is a "Smart Forest"

By Eric van Rees

Lidar technology from GeoSLAM is being used to map forests as part of the Centre for Research-based Innovation (SFI) SmartForest in Ås, Norway. SFI SmartForest aspires to put the Norwegian forestry sector at the forefront of technological advances and Industry 4.0, resulting in large efficiency gains in the forest sector, increased production, reduced environmental impacts, and significant climate benefits. 

Read the full article here

4 Key Elements of Successful IOT Device Onboarding

By Mary E. Shacklett

Onboarding an IoT device can be a complicated process. Admins must consistently onboard a variety of devices and ensure a secure connection.

Read the full article here

Low-Code Platforms For Building & Automating IOT Networks

By Chintan Jain

By 2025, the number of Internet of Things (IoT) connected devices will reach 30.9 billion units globally. IoT is one of the fastest developing tech trends, slowly becoming a vital part of data-driven businesses desiring to optimize their processes. While the average volume of data varies depending on organization size, connecting to IoT devices generally increases this volume substantially. 

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