Wireless IoT is Crucial in Reaching the Zero Accidents Goal in Operations

By Marko Yli-Pietilä, Head of Smart Operations, Stora Enso

Marko Yli-Pietilä, Head of Smart Operations, Stora Enso

Stora Enso is a renewable materials company. We believe that everything that can be made with fossil-based materials today can be made from a tree tomorrow. Safety is of paramount importance to us and we want everybody to get home safely from work every day. Our ambitious, but a reachable goal, is zero accidents in all operations. Wireless IoT is one of the crucial contributors to reach the goal.

Wireless IoT means that a device with software has a unique identifier and is connected to the cloud via the Internet with wireless technology. In industrial operations, wireline has traditionally been the prevailing mean to connect things within sites and even to the cloud. Cybersecurity has been one of the main reasons to prefer wireline. But wireline also poses problems when you need a very large number of connected devices, or you need to collect data from mobile things. Making large manufacturing sites safe requires both - many connected devices of which at least some are mobile.

At Stora Enso, we successfully use wireless IoT in solutions to improve safety in our manufacturing sites. We have defined a clear reference architecture for connectivity, which we require all solution providers to comply with. The architecture includes cybersecurity considerations as well as how data is collected, transmitted and stored for reporting and analysis. With this approach, we can manage the risks related to wireless IoT in a systematic way, even if the number of wireless IoT solutions grows in the future and we are working with many solution providers.

"We successfully use wireless IoT in solutions to improve safety in our manufacturing sites. We have defined a clear reference architecture for connectivity, which we require all solution providers to comply with"

We are using several wireless IoT safety solutions in our operations today. One of the early ones was the Employee Emergency Tracking Solution for pulp mills. In rare emergency situations, we might need to evacuate people from parts of a pulp mill. To do this fast we need to know where people are and if they can reach assigned assembly locations. We use the last detected point for tracking. Tracking is based on RFID tags and RFID readers in key locations e.g. at doors and gates at the mill. In some places, we complement RFID with WiFi to get full coverage in the whole mill area.

The second solution worth mentioning is our Retrofit IoT Angle Sensor for Hand Valves. This co-developed solution enables us to add position sensors to hand valves in a cost-efficient manner. The sensors are easy and fast to install and maintain e.g. their battery life is years. There are wireline sensor solutions available, but it is expensive to install them. We need hundreds or even thousands of such sensors in our large mills. Wireless IoT provides a viable and low-cost alternative to the traditional approach.

Wireless IoT comprises one of the crucial factors for improving safety in large manufacturing sites. There are challenges of course, but they can be overcome with the right approach to architecture and good partners. At Stora Enso we have used wireless IoT successfully in many safety solutions and we are adding capabilities all the time - even to some existing solutions that are not connected to the Internet or cloud now. One such example is our Warehouse Anti-Collision Solution which we want to start collecting data from by using wireless IoT. The solution has increased safety at warehouses without data collection by helping people and vehicles avoid collisions in a challenging operating environment. Collecting and analysing data from moving things will help us increase safety further.

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