Digitalisation in pulp and paper to exceed US$3.6 billion: report

Monday, 24 January, 2022

Digitalisation in pulp and paper to exceed US$3.6 billion: report

Pulp and paper producers face twin challenges. First, the gigantic machines converting wood pulp into paper-based products are a single point of failure. Second, the industry is embracing sustainability through the difficult task of incorporating recycled paper into production while retaining the required quality levels. These challenges are fuelling investment in process control software and data analytics to avoid unplanned downtime. ABI Research has recently released a report that finds this adoption will grow by a 7% CAGR between 2021 and 2030 and result in a US$3.6 billion spend at the end of the decade.

“Paper usage is changing, with demand for newsprint and printed paper on the decline while sales of tissues and paper-based medical products are rising rapidly,” said Michael Larner, Industrial and Manufacturing Principal Analyst at ABI Research. “Technology suppliers can help mills plan for adjustments and retain overall equipment effectiveness.”

Overall ABI Research forecasts that pulp and paper mills will be spending US$3.6 billion on digital technologies in 2030. Spending on IoT devices and the supporting platforms that, for example, support efforts to prevent unplanned downtime will be worth US$1 billion in 2030, with spend on data analytics to evaluate and optimise the production processes forecast to be worth US$370 million. The foundations for the upswing in the flow of data will be investments in connectivity (forecast to reach US$450 million in 2030) and network services (US$30 million in 2030). All technology investments need to be underpinned by robust cybersecurity, which is forecast to be the highest-growing spending area (CAGR 8.7%), being worth US$120 million at the end of the decade.

Technology providers helping mills extract and make sense of data from their machines include AspenTech, Seeq and Senseye, while companies like Emerson and Honeywell look to help mills design their operations.

“Paper needs to be smooth and of a consistent thickness to meet customer requirements. In addition, pulp and paper mills can be crippled by unplanned downtime as dust blocks up machines’ filters or the paper breaks as its being rolled or moves through the machine. The size of the machinery and speed of production provide important test cases for technology suppliers. To meet these challenges, production facilities will increasingly look to predictive maintenance and quality automation,” Larner concluded.

The findings are from ABI Research’s ‘Digitalization in the Pulp and Paper Industry’ application analysis report.

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