Everybody is currently talking about Industry 4.0, the Internet of Things, and digitalization – Dr. Felder, how did the paper industry manage to adapt to digital change so far?
Heinz Felder: After a phase of getting to grasp with the opportunities and threats of digitalization, the leading companies in our industry have formulated digitalization strategies and performed studies as well as some pilot work on digitalization projects. We would still consider ourselves as digitalization “beginners”.
And although the industry is just embarking on its journey towards the digital age, what will the future digital trends in the paper industry be?
Heinz Felder: There are three areas impacted by digitalization: We will see new business models, and intelligent packaging is a good illustrative example. Secondly, we will see the impact of industrial digitalization on operations in using predictive maintenance and predictive process modeling of our operations. And thirdly, we will see the impact of digitalization on our business processes where for instance robotics and machine learning will drive change in the future.
Are there any obstacles to be overcome in order to cope with this change in the industry – and if so, which ones?
Heinz Felder: I would not say obstacles to be overcome, but rather challenges to be tackled. Digitalization is only an enabler to do things better in sales, operations, and business processes. The challenges are twofold: prioritize digitalization areas where there is a good business case and speed – once you have performed a successful pilot in one area, how do you roll it out fast to the other areas.