A big leap towards genuine user-friendliness

Elomatic assists Stora Enso in automating factory reporting

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Stora Enso and Elomatic have closely collaborated in developing the reporting system at the Heinola factory. The cooperation has yielded much-needed results: monitoring production data is now easier and faster. Employees can not only observe process deviations but also examine longer-term trends.

Digitalization brings significant opportunities. However, technology alone is insufficient for change; it requires people, and ultimately, it involves a controlled shift in work culture. The right tools and processes facilitate everyday efficiency.

Stora Enso sought to automate reporting at the Heinola cardboard factory, which was largely manual and causing a growing workload for the factory’s staff. It was evident that the existing tools did not meet modern requirements.

“The information was scattered across different complex systems, and it was challenging to understand where the numbers were coming from or what they meant,” explains Stora Enso Project Manager Sampo Luukkainen.

Choosing a versatile partner

The goal of the overhaul was to enable the examination of reporting figures on a weekly or even daily basis, making monthly reporting easier and providing tools for daily management and investment decision-making.

To execute this task, Stora Enso chose Elomatic’s Intelligent Industry Data Solutions (IIDS) team. In their discussions, the companies quickly found a common goal, with user-friendliness taking a central place.

“Elomatic had expertise in the tools we desired, as well as experience in factory reporting and visualizations. They could take on a more versatile role than a traditional IT company and assist, for example, in mass flow balance,” tells Luukkainen.

Utilizing open source code in the solution

Elomatic’s experts and key personnel from the factory began exploring solution options in the fall of 2021.

“In the implementation, technologies proven effective in Heinola were employed, but Stora Enso also had the willingness to broaden its perspective and consider our proposals for different methods,” explains Elomatic Lead Data Scientist Ville Ottelin.

The solution’s user interface was ultimately implemented using Grafana, with an existing PostgreSQL database chosen as the data source. The calculation of figures is based on Python, enabling calculations without technological limitations.

“The process was flexible and transparent from the start, bringing significant development steps for both parties. The open-source-based solution opens up many possibilities for us in the future,” adds Luukkainen.

The new system provides understandable information

The developed solution was put into production in spring 2023. Preliminary results indicate that the system has been reliable and able to meet the needs created by previous challenges.

“Even complex equations are now calculated automatically, and employees know where the numbers come from. They can also examine the mass flow balance, the calculation method of which has been made understandable,” notes Luukkainen.

The system’s flexible graphical user interface has received special praise, allowing users to obtain information in the format they need. Stora Enso has expressed broader interest in such data visualization.

Supporting sustainable development

With the new system, deviations in various process aspects, such as fiber, water, or energy quantities, can be identified. In problem situations, employees can compare the situation to previous ones, aiding in determining how to address the issue.

Thanks to the solution, users can also examine longer-term development trends, which helps them to understand how to improve resource efficiency, for example. Additionally, the system provides relief in regulatory reporting.

“Our goal is to minimize all material and waste. Now we have the necessary metrics even for situations that require a quick response to changes. In those cases, we cannot rely on a single metric; we need balance sheet calculations enabled by reporting,” explains Luukkainen.

Continuing collaboration

Luukkainen emphasizes that at the moment, they are implementing the solution, and ongoing collaboration with production is needed to fully benefit from the modernization of reporting. The main objective is to achieve quick responses to process and balance changes and gain an understanding of the causes of changes and how to influence them.

“We have now automated several hundred metrics and built a functional foundation to continue the work. Next, we will enhance visualization and continue exploring the figures,” outlines Luukkainen regarding future plans.

“We benefit greatly from having found a good partner. We can trust that we will continue to receive the expertise we need from Elomatic,” he concludes.

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