Every company wants to improve margins on the products it sells. At the same time, it’s important to satisfy customers and keep a high reputation by selling quality products. This is just as true in the paper, packaging, and forest products industries as any other industry. Fortunately, technology such as the Internet of Things (IoT) are giving new ways to create quality products that give better margins. It’s a win for customers and companies.
How can paper, packaging, and forest products companies use IoT to connect innovative products and improve margins?
Using IoT to connect smart products
Through IoT, products are becoming smarter and interconnected. Companies can track products and processes to learn valuable data and make improvements. This helps create benefits like safer practices and more efficient processes. For example, a project in Japan involves sensors bringing together information from buses and drivers, as well as weather and traffic, with the goal of creating safer driving conditions. The consumption of goods like toilet paper and paper towels can be measured and even predicted by deploying sensors that count people entering bathroom areas of sporting arena or other huge buildings.
A major benefit for this industry is innovative products that create improved margins. An IDC white paper, “The IoT Imperative for Energy and Natural Resource Companies,” explained that IoT can work to achieve this goal by improving supply chain integration, process automation, and other measures that cut costs and provide better margins.
With IoT, companies can keep or even improve quality while also improving margins. Making use of IoT-related technology or processes allows them to streamline processes to ensure quality while finding ways to save. Using IoT for predictive maintenance can support reduce unplanned downtime and increase throughput by making best use of available assets.
Industry examples of IoT benefits
There are many current examples of paper, packaging, and forest product companies using IoT to gain benefits.
Companies in these industries can use sensors to make their products more intelligent. For example, putting sensors in or on paper-based packaging to indicate storage conditions or the position of an item such as keeping the package upright or within a certain temperature range. Mark Langridge explained in Packaging Digest that smart sensors provide a range of benefits.
Customizing products is one important way paper companies differentiate their offerings. IoT can help by minimizing costs to achieve the desired quality at the lowest cost. Companies can use predictive quality to give customers the exact level of quality they expect for the paper roll – at the lowest cost. Instead of giving the customer more than they need, companies can cut down on costs by orchestrating the production process to produce exactly the right quality.
For example, an article in Packaging Strategies talked about how digital printing gives the capacity for levels of customization in packaging that was never possible before. For example, each folding carton of a large series could carry its own specific design, such as a unique QR code on each unit.
There are many additional ways this industry can use smart products with IoT. For example, the IDC white paper gave the example of a mill that saved millions of dollars a year by optimizing energy with utility grids when performing high-energy processes. This kind of tactic can improve asset efficiency and streamline energy use, which cuts costs.
The paper, packaging, and forest products industry is moving in the direction of using IoT and smart products to improve processes and boost margins. LNS conducted a study recently of digital transformation in the paper and packaging industry. The research found that paper 20 % of paper company respondents had already started an IoT initiative and 30% said they were starting in IoT initiative within the next year.
Learn how to bring new technologies and services together to power digital transformation by downloading “The IoT Imperative for Energy and Natural Resource Companies.” Explore how to bring Industry 4.0 insights into your business today by reading “Industry 4.0: What’s Next?”